Do you speak carbon?
By Melissa Hobson
With the COP26 climate conference currently taking place in Glasgow, the nation is homing in on finding solutions. But does this leave you wondering what this all means for you?
If you’re keen to learn more about what you can do, you might be interested in a Carbon Literacy programme. Carbon literacy is “an awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions,” according to the Carbon Literacy Project. That is, helping individuals, communities and organisations learn about climate change and the impact our everyday actions have on the planet as well as the positive changes we can make to reduce our impact and emissions.
We recently became the first Welsh National Park to undertake carbon literacy training. The nine members of our staff who took part learned about how to reduce their carbon footprint: as an individual, with their community and through their work with the National Park. A vital part of this is our work with local schools and communities, showing them how they can play a part.
Education Officer Hayley Sharp said: “We want to make people aware of climate issues as well as the work the National Park has been doing for the last 20 years. For example, our projects to protect peatlands, restore biodiversity and our use of solar, electric vehicles and more. Our education team is focused on getting kids involved to help them feel positive about the future. We’re running a Climate Action programme which asks schools, young people and their families to pledge to take control and do something positive. This could be committing to waste-free lunches, passing on used uniforms rather than throwing them away, walking to school, or even growing a garden or a vegetable patch.”
Her colleague Eleri Thomas added “Everybody can do something small. And if everybody does something, that will make a difference. It’s also a way of giving people hope that there are solutions to the climate crisis, which can sometimes feel overwhelming.”
When it comes to the climate, the team has found that many children already have high levels of awareness of the importance of protecting the planet: “To be honest, I think the children are more switched on than many older people,” commented Hayley.
“That’s why we’re focusing on empowering climate action,” Eleri said: “It’s gone too far now to keep on talking. We want kids and families to come away inspired that they can do something to make a difference. It might just be a simple swap to start with – such as swapping your shampoo bottle for a shampoo bar – but we need these changes to carry on and become habits. It’s so easy to go back to that bottle of shampoo! But this is all about taking responsibility and caring for the planet and for each other.”
So, what can you do in your community? Here are a few ideas of simple ways you can reduce your impact on our planet:
- Walk or take public transport instead of driving
- Reduce your plastic use and recycle wherever possible
- Plant a garden, vegetable plot or a tree
- When your children grow out of their clothes, pass it onto others or give it to charity
- Switch to a renewable electricity supplier
“We’ve seen so many people taking great steps to tread more lightly on the planet,” concludes Eleri. “We want to celebrate the amazing steps people are already taking as well as giving communities access to other ideas of things they could do. We’re all part of this delicate ecosystem and we need to keep a healthy balance for the future of our children and future generations.”