Take action

Action on climate change begins, perhaps, with just talking to your neighbour. Yes, the complexity and scale of the problem can seem overwhelming. But that also means there is essentially unlimited scope for action at every level – from personal to global. Our thought is: it feels better to do something than nothing, but don’t expect to be able to do everything. Choose an action you feel comfortable with, and try it.

There’s lots of information available to help you, including from these organisations:

We have started with the personal things you can do, because that can feel like the easiest starting point – but we are also very clear that climate chage is a challenge of collective action rather than an individual issue. That is why Zero West exists, and we invite you to join us.

We recognise that there are not easy answers, that many ‘sustainable’ things can have adverse impacts, and that doing your best and raising awareness is more important than doing everything perfectly, and much better than feeling bad. We also recognise that cost can be prohibitive, and encourage you do what you can afford.

If you would like to suggest something to add to this list, or want to tell us about your experience trying any of the following, please contact us.

Personal

Talk to friends and family about climate change. This really helps – we all put most value on information from people we trust.

Get informed so you can talk convincingly. See our Resources page for places to begin.

Use a carbon calculator to start to understand the impact of your lifestyle.

At home – energy

Switch to LED lights. Easy! You just go to a hardware store… Here’s why it’s worth doing.

Switch your energy supplier to support green power generation. Not all green energy suppliers are equally green, but Green Energy, Good Energy, and Bristol Energy (green tarriff) are especially worth a look.

Use your heating sensible and minimally.

Take a meter reading each month (gas and electricity). Once you know how much you are using, you can try and reduce it.

Consider a split rate electricity tariff. Energy suppliers pay more for energy at peak times, and consumers no longer have to pay a fixed rate. You could save a lot of money if you can mostly use your electricity in the day. Green Energy is one of the suppliers to now offer this.

Do you own your house? Investigate how to make it more efficient. Start here.

One of the ways we are most dependent on fossil fuels is at ‘peak times’, especially early evenings. Here, demand exceeds what can be supplied by renewables, especially in winter. Avoid using big appliances like washing machines at this time, and put your fridge/freezer on a timer (turning it off for a few hours isn’t a problem).

Combined with energy efficiency measures, the right combination of solar panels, battery storage, heat pumps and hot water storage could allow you to effectively decarbonise your heating and electricity, and save a lot of money. Look into what would work best for your home. These local installers are a great place to start.

At home – food

Explore options to buy more local food:

Support shops selling local organic food, and avoid supermarkets.

Eat meat as a treat, if at all.

Or go vegan. Drop dairy, eggs, and fish as well as meat. Learn about the ecological impact of your food as meat alternatives are not all great either.

If you have a garden, what about growing your own food? Or look into an allotment? The mental and physical health benefits might be more than you thought too.

Get involved in permaculture and join the Bristol Permaculture Group email list

Think about joining or setting up a buying cooperative, to get good value and minimal packaging.

At home – stuff

Recycle as much as you can, and avoid buying things in un-recyclable packaging (or buying things altogether!)

Drop fast fashion – buy clothes and other consumables that are durable and can last for many years. Some innovative local examples include:

Buy second hand – freecycle, vintage, charity shops etc. Set up a clothes swap with some friends. There is more than an enough stuff in the world to go around already.

Imported goods are responsible for a huge portion of our carbon footprint – do you need that new item, or do you want it?

Switch to ethical banking. If you or your employer invest in a pension, find out their policy on fossil fuel assets.

Encourage your pension fund to go zero carbon.

Home – getting around

Clean up that bike, and check out local cycle routes: there may be more than you think.

If you work for yourself, consider whether you can use video conferencing instead of travelling for meetings. Skype is free of course, and there are excellent higher quality Freemium services like Zoom.

Use public transport wherever possible.

If you drive, consider saving all costly licensing, servicing and insurance and join a car club for easy access for short trips. Local availability varies, but check out:

For those that already own a car think about car sharing clubs or sharing a journey. This also can save a lot in fuel money.

If you really need a car, buy electric if you can afford it. See here for how this might be more affordable than you think.

Consider whether you really need to travel by air. There are many other options, for example:

Local

Talk to your MP and councillors about climate change. Many want to act, but don’t hear enough support for change. There’s lots of help on how to do this from Hope for the Future.

Join the Bristol Green Capital Partnership

Respond to local consultations. Plans and strategies currently open for comment include:

  • Travel West on (logically enough) future transport options in the region.
  • Bristol’s One City Plan (not a formal consultation, but an evolving set of goals for the city).
  • Long-term plans for Bristol Airport in North Somerset (which envisage doubling flights to 20m a year). Some details here.

Join Extinction Rebellion in Bristol, Bath, or Weston-super-Mare and other local places, and take direct action to press for Government response to environmental crisis.

Join your local Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth.

Support (or join!) the school strikes for climate action.

Sign up to the Bristol Clean Air Pledge.

Regional

Join Zero West!

Join or setup a tree planting initiative – look out for more on this from us soon!

Look out for share offers from your local community energy company. (See our resources page)

If you work for an SME, community organisation or public sector organisation, check out the Low Carbon Challenge Fund

If you are a business, join Future Economy Network.

National

Support campaigns for more constructive government policies on renewable energy, especially onshore wind, and solar

Support campaigns resisting new fossil fuel and nuclear infrastructure.

Find out who is taking direct action, and join in to avert climate change. If there’s a reason you can’t do this, support these organisations financially instead.

Support disinvestment from fossil fuels (local campaigns also available!).

Engage with fossil fuel companies as a shareholder (with help!) Start here.

Sign up to Mission Life Force.