Think about what you eat

A meat-rich diet adds to greenhouse gas emissions, because raising animals such as cattle adds a lot of methane to the atmosphere. Some of the meat that we buy is imported from far away, which uses fossil fuels and increases emissions. Some of it comes from places where rain forest has been cleared to provide grazing land for beef cattle. It has been calculated that every mouthful of beef that we eat represents the emission of 6,800 times its own weight in greenhouse gases.

TURN IT DowN

Central heating is controlled by a thermostat, which switches it off when the room warms up. Turning down the thermostat by just 1.8°F (1°C) saves 518 lb (235 kg) of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Have a family discussion about it. Aim for 61-64°F (16-18°C); if you're a bit cold, wear more clothes.

RE-USE AND RECYCLE Our habit of throwing things away contributes to climate change by adding to methane-generating landfill. It also encourages us to buy new things that have been made using processes that emit greenhouse gases. Try to use things for as long as possible, getting them repaired if necessary. If they cannot be repaired, try to get them recycled rather than simply dumping them. This applies to everything from bottles and shopping bags to broken computers and TVs.

Recycling bins take all kinds of waste

Recycling bins take all kinds of waste

BUY LOCAL

Get your family to support your local stores and markets, by making shopping expeditions on foot or by local bus rather than in the car. Avoid buying foods that have traveled halfway around the globe, if there are perfectly good alternatives from local sources. There is nothing wrong with a few exotic treats, but there is no point in buying air-freighted fruit when the same crop is being harvested locally. Get into the habit of checking the "country of origin" labels—and avoid buying things that come with a lot of packaging.

TAKE THE TRAIN

Avoid short-haul flights. A flight from London to Paris releases 538 lb (244 kg) of carbon dioxide per passenger, but a high-speed train trip between the same cities releases 48 lb (22 kg) per passenger. This particular trip is also quicker by train from downtown to downtown. If you are traveling further, you may have to take a flight, but ask your family to investigate"carbon offsetting" schemes, which aim to balance the plane's emissions by saving greenhouse gases elsewhere.

GROW A TREE

If you get the opportunity, plant a tree—preferably a native one that will provide a home for local wildlife. Even more importantly, make sure the tree keeps growing. Plant it in a place where it can grow to full maturity, and keep it watered when it is young. It will take a long time to grow big enough to absorb a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but even a single tree could offset a lot of the greenhouse gases you will produce in your lifetime. If you cannot grow your own tree, support a forest charity that will grow one for you.

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