29 November 2021
We recently conducted research which revealed that despite a high awareness and concern about climate change and it being important to us to be seen as environmentally friendly, the link between how we want to be seen and the actions we are prepared to take is tenuous. Our research identifies that there is a significant Intention – Action Gap when it comes to being more sustainable in our everyday lives, and you can check out more about our Reflecting Ireland research here. We’ve teamed up with Behavioural Scientist Claire Cogan of BehaviourWise to support our customers in living a more climate-friendly lifestyle with tips from behavioural science, supported by permanent tsb.
The way we live today contributes to rising levels greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. Two in particular stem from human activity: carbon dioxide and methane. According to a recent report, behaviour change plays a role in almost two thirds of greenhouse gas emission reductions (1). Ireland is unusual among EU countries in that households emit more CO2 than industry (2). Each one of us can help reduce levels of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere by making choices about how we live.
When asked what are the most pressing issues facing Ireland today, 53% of Irish people say the cost of living. The good news is that living a climate-friendly lifestyle can save us money. It also means less waste, and it’s good for our health. Creating your own climate-friendly footprint is easy to do - just follow these steps. Small changes can make a real difference.
Approximately 60% of the energy used in our homes goes towards heating (2), so there are real benefits in being as heat-efficient as possible, both for our pockets and the climate. The best way to improve your energy efficiency is to upgrade your heating system. There are also small steps you can take that will make a real difference.
MINIMISE FOOD WASTE:
Did you know that we waste an estimated 1 million tonnes of food annually in Ireland (5), and that food waste generates methane and is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions globally (6)? We know that 6 out of 10 of us (57%) have made a conscious effort to minimise food waste over the past 3 months. By reducing food waste we save ourselves money, and we reduce levels of methane in the atmosphere. The average Irish household could save €700 a year on food bills by minimising food waste (7).
Visit www.stopfoodwaste.ie for information about how to reduce food waste.
GO MEAT-FREE MORE OFTEN:
You don’t have to eliminate meat from your diet altogether, simply opt for plant-based or meat-free main meals a little more often. This adds variety to your diet and helps reduce methane in the atmosphere.
Visit www.bordbia.ie for vegetarian and vegan recipe ideas.
TIPS TO HELP YOU MAKE THE CHANGE –
BASED ON BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCE
We know from behavioural science that people generally want to do the right thing, but often life just gets in the way. We may have every intention of living a more climate-friendly lifestyle, but our habits are hard to break. In behavioural science we design 'nudges' to help people change their behaviour. You can design your own ‘nudges’ to remind you to make the changes you want to make. They should be noticeable, and timely, to act as a trigger.
If you have children in your household, get them involved in designing ‘nudges’ to encourage the family to make these lifestyle changes. Children are great ‘nudgers’! Ask them to leave notes or drawings where they think people will see them, for example an ‘eat me up’ note in the fridge reminding everyone to eat up food that’s nearing its ‘use by’ date. Children are learning about climate change at school and through social media, and some may feel anxious about it. Getting the whole family to work together to live a more climate-friendly lifestyle will encourage children, and ease anxious feelings that they or the adults around them may have about climate change.
In behavioural science, we use defaults to make decision-making easier. Smart technology such as smart meters or thermostats allow us to set our own defaults. Smart gas and electricity meters are currently being rolled out across Ireland. They help us manage our use of gas or electricity by providing accurate information on our usage levels, making us aware of how much energy we’re using, and removing the need for us to submit manual readings (4). In trials, Irish consumers reduced usage levels of electricity by up to 3% and peak demand by 8% (10) saving money, time and energy.
How we feel is both a cause and a consequence of our behaviour. Living a climate-friendly lifestyle is good for our mental health. We feel better when we waste less, spend more time in nature and eat well. We may not be able to control how the world reacts to climate change, but we can control how we react to it. Taking proactive steps to play our part in addressing it gives us a sense of control which helps alleviate anxiety and is good for our mental health.
REAP THE REWARDS!
Living a climate friendly lifestyle is rewarding in lots of ways. We save money, waste less, are healthier, and benefit from the ‘feel good factor’ of knowing that we are doing the right thing for the future of our planet. Small changes can make a real difference.
The content of this blog does not constitute advice and is for general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice before relying on anything stated in the blog. Some of the links above bring you to external websites. Your use of an external website is subject to the terms of that site.