Animals: meat and dairy production contribute more to climate change than the entire global transport sector. Most of the recent destruction of the irreplaceably diverse and beautiful Amazon rainforest has been for beef farming (the
Banking: our money is powerful. We can make sure it is not used to invest in destroying Indonesian rainforests for paper or mining operations that devastate local eco-systems. The Co-operative bank (and insurance companies) have an impressive ethical policy that serves its customers well too (see www.goodwithmoney.co.uk) Their
Books: Greyfriars’ Bookshop and St Andrew’s,
Cars: transport accounts for about one quarter of the
Church: ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it’ (Psalm 24:1) – what is your church doing about it? See www.ecocongregation.org.uk, www.arocha.org, www.ctbi.org.uk/375, www.ccow.org.uk, www.greeningstjohns.blogspot.com (as well as those cited under activism), for ideas and resources to help your church respond.
Compost: plants, food waste and paper in landfill produce methane (which is 20 times worse than CO² as a greenhouse gas). See Reading Borough Council’s website for advice on composting and for special offers for residents on compost bins and green cones (the latter are for cooked food waste that might otherwise attract rats).
Dirt: conventional cleaning products for our bodies, homes and clothes are, or have recently been, commonly tested on animals. They contain various substances that damage water eco-systems and are hard to process at water treatment works (requiring greater energy and water input). All you really need can be bought at RISC,
Electricity: the single biggest thing you can do to reduce your individual direct carbon emissions is change to a genuinely green electricity supplier (don’t be fooled by the ‘greenwash’ of the major energy companies and their ‘green tariffs’). Ecotricity guarantee to charge the same as the Big Six local electricity suppliers but invest over £400 per customer in wind generation (www.ecotricity.co.uk, mention Christian Aid when you switch and they’ll get £25 too. Check the website to decide if you want their 100% green tariff)
Food: Half of all the food produced on British farms is thrown away. At least 1 in 8 people on the planet are undernourished. A similar number are obese. Yet simple, home-cooked food can be one of the deep pleasures of life, echoing sacred meals under the oaks of Mamre or in a house at
Use your LOAF: Locally produced, Organically grown, Animal Friendly, Fairly traded .
Where to buy it?
Reading Farmers’ Market: every 1st and 3rd Saturday, 8.30-12, The Cattle Market,
The True Food Co-op: every 2nd and 4th Saturday 1-4, RISC, London Street and venues throughout Reading the rest of the week (see www.truefood.coop) for organic (often fairtrade or vegan) wholefoods, fruit and veg, green cleaning etc at low prices with minimal packaging in a relaxed atmosphere
Veg boxes are local and guarantee our farmers a fair price. For very local, see www.tolhurstorganic.co.uk, or (if you want to be able to choose what arrives and have a wider variety, never air-freighted and 22% cheaper than supermarket organics) www.riverfordnorton.co.uk.
These are all also much more enjoyable ways to shop than supermarkets.
Support your local Co-operative shops too: they’re officially the ‘greenest supermarket’.
If your church does not have a Traidcraft stall, it’s time to set one up (www.traidcraft.co.uk).
Grow your own: whether it’s sprouting seeds on the kitchen window or working a whole allotment, most people find such creative acts good for their relationship with the Creator. They can also reduce food miles and make for a better understanding of the planet. Caversham, Tilehurst, Woodley and Earley/East Reading all have horticultural associations that give support (talks, visits etc) and have trading sheds for competitively priced essentials. (See Reading library website for details of the first three, ring 0118 9861909 for the last). B&Q sell peat free organic compost and growbags.
Heating: a typical home wastes one third of the heat produced by its central heating system through the roof and walls.
Living Lightly: Inspired by Psalm 24, A Rocha have set up an online community to encourage Christians to live more sustainably by committing to make one lifestyle change every three months. Even if you don’t join them, the website is full of useful tips: www.livinglightly24-1.org.uk.
Paper: forest loss caused by paper production is a bigger cause of climate change than flying (it’s also driving the orang-utan to extinction). The True Food Co-op (see above, Food) sell recycled printer paper. Along with RISC and the Co-operative they also sell recycled paper goods like toilet rolls. To cancel unaddressed mail, write to Door to Door Opt Out, Royal Mail, Kingsmead House, Oxpens Road, Oxford, OX1 1RX; to cancel addressed junk mail, ring the Mailing Preference Service on 0845 7034599; to cancel free papers, find their phone numbers inside; put up a note for the menu deliverers. Re-think your buying of magazines etc. Re-use as much as possible, then compost.
Travel: join Reading Cycle Campaign to help make cycling safer and for discounts at cycle shops (www.readingcyclecampaign.org.uk). www.seat61.com gives advice on alternative travel arrangements to avoid flying to many destinations. Network or Family&Friends Railcards make for significantly cheaper train travel (as does booking in advance). The Travel Office in Broad Street Mall sells smartcards for cheaper travel on Reading Buses (see www.reading-buses.co.uk/smartcard).