Jenny Howell - Down to Earth

Jenny Howell - Down to Earth

COLUMN Down to Earth: Six steps to take personal climate action

What you choose to do today matters, says Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society’s Jenny Howell

With events in Ukraine consuming the news, you may well have missed the latest International panel on climate change (IPCC) report that came out recently.

If you keep up on this stuff, it won’t be surprising; but if you were hoping to hear that things are getting better and the future is rosy then you’ll be disappointed.

What it actually says is that climate breakdown is happening faster and getting worse than previous predictions, everyone will be affected and the window to make drastic cuts to carbon emissions is now just a few years. António Guterres, the UN Director General, described the report as an “atlas of human suffering”.

In a world that is seemingly ever more chaotic, psychologists suggest you can make yourself feel better and less helpless by taking small positive actions.

The Jump, a grassroots climate movement, has paired with academics at Leeds University to come up with six actions that if everyone in wealthier countries took would reduce overall emissions by 25-27 per cent.

I’m often a bit dubious about such approaches being the ‘answer to climate change’ since there is no way that everyone will commit to making these changes (and even if they did, it’s just 25 per cent of the answer) and it puts the responsibility back on individuals when so many changes needed are large-scale political and industrial ones.

However, the Jump recognizes this and explains it as an ‘all hands on deck’ approach, with individual actions considered just part of the overall climate solution. With that caveat, a guide with specific goals to aim for seems helpful, rather than the looser ‘reduce consumption’ message which means something very different to each person.

So here are the ‘steps’ from the Jump- you can sign up and ‘take the pledge’ if so inclined (

End clutter- keep electronic gadgets for at least seven years. Thirteen per cent of an iPhone 11’s lifetime emissions are down to its use; the rest comes from its production, transport and end-of-life processing.

Travel Fresh (get rid of vehicles). Not happening yet in the Cariboo. But more people are choosing electric vehicles and hybrids or smaller, more fuel-efficient cars or keeping old vehicles longer. Reducing trips is certainly incentivized by recent high gas prices.

Buy Retro. Buy no more than three new things a year, and when you do buy new, buy high quality so clothes will last.

Eat Green. Or as Michael Pollan once wisely said; eat food, not too much, mostly plants. (Over 50 per cent of edible food gets thrown away in Canadian households).

Holiday local (no more than one flight in three years, eight years for long haul). The eight years long haul is unlikely for those of us with international roots and family, but there is the carbon offsets option, (opening another whole can of controversial worms- a good topic for another article)

Change the system. This one is the most grey, but suggests a ‘life shift to nudge the system’ such as using green energy, investing ‘green’, become politically involved etc.

For more information on Water Wise or Waste Wise and any of our school and community programs, contact the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society at or visit the website at

Read more: DOWN TO EARTH: The power of numbers

Read more: DOWN TO EARTH: A New Year has me questioning what future will look like

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(Editor’s note: bikepacking and bicycle travel is a growing and rewarding travel option made more accessible with e-bikes)

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