Laura on Small Changes Making a Big Impact

Laura shares simple ways young people can tackle climate change.

Small Changes, Big Impact

Climate change is one of the biggest issues affecting the entire world.

If we all make a couple of small changes to our lives, there will be changes on a much bigger scale across the world. You can reduce your own carbon footprint by making smart environmental choices in something you do naturally. Plus, you can encourage family and friends to follow your lead and fight climate change as a community.

If climate change can’t be stopped, what will happen to the next generation? It’s a question young people should be asking themselves. After all, young people today are the future and will lay foundations for generations to come.

So what can I do?

It goes without saying that you should recycle as much as possible and make single-use plastics a thing of the past. But it doesn’t have to end there.

You see, there are lots of simple switches you can make which can make a huge difference, things like;

  • Buy a metal straw instead of using plastic straws
  • Use cloth handkerchiefs and napkins rather than paper
  • Switch off the lights when you leave a room

The list of small yet effective changes everyone can make is endless. Think about your lifestyle and what you can do to help save the environment.

But you see smart environmental decisions do not (and should not) need to be something we can only do at home. If you attend school, university, college or are employed, there are many environmentally friendly things you can do.

Where possible, try walking to school, college or work. If walking is not an option, try to use public transport or get together with friends and see if you can car share.

Use both sides of the paper before throwing it away (into a recycling bin). Think before printing. Do you really need a paper copy of something? Are you able to use a computer or tablet instead? It's great to see some schools allowing pupils to use technological devices for their learning and to complete their schoolwork.

Take a reusable water bottle and fill it up during the school day. Buy a lunch box or bag instead of taking your lunch in a plastic bag.

If tackling climate change is something you are passionate about and you would like to encourage others to do the same, why not ask if this is something you can take forward in your school? Talk to your head teacher about some of your ideas and think about what your school could do. For example, if your school doesn’t have an eco-committee why not ask if you can start one and recruit some other pupils to join?

TVs, Computers and Mobile Phones

Handy as they are, mobile phones, laptops and tablets use a lot of energy and can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of correctly.

If you have an old phone, computer or tablet you no longer want please don’t just throw it in the bin. Instead, try to sell it, give it away, donate it to charity or have it disposed of responsibly. Some local authorities or mobile phone shops offer recycling schemes for mobile phones and computers.

Only charge devices when you need to and remember to unplug the charger properly at the wall. Like mobile phones and computers, TVs use a lot of energy. When you have finished watching TV, switch it off properly. Merely leaving the TV on standby means the TV is still running and using electricity.

What about when I am shopping?

Plastic bags take hundreds of years to decompose and are a threat to animals and wildlife who could become trapped or mistake them for food. Reuse the plastic bags (I’m sure every house has a collection of them piled up in a cupboard) or better still, purchase a reusable cloth bag.

Globally, up to 40% of food produced is wasted and here in the UK 70% of food waste comes from households. Younger age groups like 18-34 year olds and households with children under 18 are more likely to have higher levels of food waste. The solution is quite simple really - buy only what you need. Create a meal plan and work out precisely what you need to buy. Some people actually take photos of inside their fridge (also known as a ‘shelfie’) to remind them of what is already there before they go shopping.

Find another purpose for things you no longer need rather than disposing of them. Rather than throwing away old clothes, books, CDs etc why not give them away to family or friends? You could even consider donating them to a local charity. This way you are giving items a second life and benefiting someone else.

Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing this generation. Thankfully, there are lots of really simple ways for everyone to play their part. Everyone can make a difference.

Read other environmental blogs or visit our COP26 page to find out more about climate change, the climate crisis and the environment.

Young Scot supports young people to share their own voices, views and opinions and works with partner organisations and professionals who are experts in different topics. The views expressed in this blog are those of the young people, organisations and/or individuals who have taken part in the blog, not necessarily the views of Young Scot.