It’s easy to look at the issues facing our environment and feel like they’re simply too big!
The reality is that together, we can make a difference. This time last year school kids around the country went on strike and headed to the streets to call for global action on climate change. With the pandemic keeping many of us indoors and avoiding mass gatherings, public outdoor protests aren’t possible this year. But there are still a number of simple changes you can make to minimise your footprint. And, if everyone in New Zealand did the same, the net impact would be huge!
Here are five things you can do that will help our environment the most:
1. Go electric
Carbon emissions from the energy sector make up 41% of NZ’s total emissions. Within the energy sector, emissions from transport make up 43.5% of total emissions in the energy sector (17.6% of New Zealand's total emissions). Much of our energy comes from renewable resources, so swapping petrol for electricity is a great way to reduce your carbon emissions.
The great news? Electric cars are becoming more and more affordable, and their range is extending. For example, the Nissan Leaf’s battery, when charged on a fast-charger, can go from 50 to 85 per cent capacity in 15 minutes. This extends the battery performance from 100 to 200 kilometres in about as long as you’d have spent at the petrol station filling up, getting a coffee and nipping to the loo. These fast-charging stations are popping up at main centres and highways all over the country. You can keep up to date with New Zealand’s move towards electric vehicles here.
Read more about EV travel in our story here
2. Reduce air travel and Food Miles
Air travel is a big one when it comes to greenhouse gasses, so minimising how much you fly is an easy way to tread more lightly on the earth. You might also like to think more carefully about the food you buy – if the product or its ingredients were produced overseas, it will almost certainly have been shipped by plane – so when you buy these products you’re contributing to air travel without realising it.
3. Plant some trees
We’re lucky in New Zealand – here our forests offset nearly 30% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Trees ‘breathe in’ carbon dioxide and expel oxygen, so a native forest can remove more than 8 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
That means natives planted in your garden won’t just look beautiful, they’ll also reduce your footprint! For more information check out Trees that Count
4. Buy fewer things
Everything you buy took energy to produce, some more than others. Your cheap t-shirt was probably made from cotton grown in India, with huge quantities of pesticides and water, manufactured in China using coal energy, packaged in plastics and shipped across the world using fossil fuels. A pair of jeans, for example, is responsible for the same amount of carbon dioxide as driving 125 kilometres! If you have to buy new, get the best quality you can, so it will last. If you’re buying online, choose normal freight, rather than urgent delivery. The best option is to buy second-hand, or simply to not buy at all.
5. Go Solar
While much of NZ’s energy is renewable, coal is still being burned in power stations around the country. If instead of building new plants to replace the coal-burning ones (at an estimated cost of $20 billion!), every householder had solar panels installed, we’d easily achieve the government’s target to be 100% renewable energy by 2030.
solarZero makes it really easy and affordable to switch to solar energy. Instead of buying solar panels and paying to install them, you simply pay a fixed monthly fee with the system installed and maintained by solarZero. End result? You enjoy cheaper power that’s kinder to the environment.
Ready to get started? Click here to learn more about solarZero.