What can i do Myself?

Making your impact count

The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today are the result of billions of individual decisions made by each person on the planet. We are each a powerful part of the solution to climate change.

Most of us can make choices overnight to change our behaviour – for example, to stop eating meat or to fly less. This has a much faster impact than changing energy systems.

When determining whether to pay the extra money for energy efficient appliances, water tanks, solar panels, changing to renewable power, or electric or hybrid vehicles, many consider the payback period – the amount of time until you get back the money you spent. This could be years, or not at all.

Climate action requires us to make a mindset shift – from seeing climate action as a cost, to seeing it as an investment in a safe and healthy future.

The following are actions that you can take to cut your carbon emissions. They are listed in order of highest impact to lowest, informed by research conducted by Lund University in Sweden. We hope this enables you to invest your time and money wisely to make the biggest impact you can.

Use one of the carbon calculators on our Tools page to find out what aspects of your lifestyle contribute the most to greenhouse gas emissions.

Highest impact actions

These actions reduce an individual’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 800kg CO2 equivalent per year

Eat a plant-based diet. 15 percent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from farming, and more than half come from beef and sheep products. Avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the biggest ways to reduce your environmental impact.

Fly less. The rise of online video calls and conferencing has reduced the need for some interstate or international travel for business needs. For other travel, public transport and sustainable approaches to car use can help avoid excess emissions. Support the movement for 100% renewable energy powered high-speed rail.

Buy a more efficient car. If having a car is a must for you, then get one that’s more efficient than the one you currently have (see a comparison table here), share it, and drive as little as possible. Uptake of electric cars has increased by over the last 3 years. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is funding the roll-out of Ultrafast EV Charging Infrastructure Network by Evie Networks. Corporate and Fleet procurement of electric vehicles is predicted to increase with the help of EV procurement tools for fleet managers.

Minimise car use or live car free. Not only are cars bad for the planet, but they aren’t very good for our hip pocket either – the average Australian metropolitan household spends about 13 per cent of its income (about $17,000) on road transport each year. Here are some useful tips to make the transition to living car free.

Buy green energy or generate your own. Certified GreenPower is offered by most Australian electricity retailers. According to the independent Green Electricity Guide, Australia’s greenest electricity retailer is Powershop. In addition / alternatively, you can install a rooftop solar system, with or without battery storage. Visit the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme to see if you are eligible for a rebate. When choosing an installer, check company reviews and ratings on an independent comparison website, such as Solar Quotes or Solar Choice. A recent article on the Federal and State government solar subsidies/rebates for households describes the current state of play in 2020. Read it here

If planning a family, consider having one less child. Scientists estimate that not having a baby saves as much carbon annually as 73 people going vegetarian or 24 people not driving a car for a year.

Medium impact actions

These actions reduce an individual’s greenhouse gas emissions by 200-800kg CO2 equivalent per year

Wash clothes in cold water and hang dry clothes. It’s an easy way to save energy and will make your clothes last longer.

Recycle and waste less. the average Australian produces 7 tonnes of waste each year. Here are some ways to reduce waste and recycle more each day:

    1. Water (use bucket in shower, greywater on lawn and water tank for gardens and car washing)
    2. food (buy local and in season, buy less, throw out less, compost food scraps)
    3. power (turn off anything when not in use),
    4. plastic (reuse bags, recycle soft plastics, store food in reusable containers or beeswax wraps),
    5. clothing (buy less, buy second hand, buy higher quality garments or items made from recycled materials, repair damaged garments instead of throwing away)

Visit Planet Ark’s RecyclingNearYou website to find out about what you can and can’t recycle in your household recycling services and to find out where you can recycle your electronic waste, batteries, printer cartridges, whitegoods, furniture and more.

Lower (but still important) actions

These actions reduce an individual’s greenhouse gas emissions by less than 200kg CO2 equivalent per year

Upgrade appliances. Choose the highest energy ratings you can, replace inefficient with efficient eg normal lights with LED’s

Heat and cool less. Insulate your home, keep the house cool with blinds in summer and warm by opening them in winter, Set your air conditioner to 24 in summer and 22 in winter when absolutely needed.

A comparison of emissions reductions from various individual actions.

Credit: Lund University

Switch to a fossil-free bank and superannuation fund. Consider changing your superannuation to one that invests in ethical companies. This provides capital and stability to organisations that are reducing their carbon emissions (and often these super funds perform better too). See whether your bank and super funds are investing in fossil fuels by using SuperSwitch and the Market Forces Bank Table. This information does not constitute financial advice and should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.