Throughout 2020, scientists, climate activists and individuals who care have shared their knowledge and views about the impact climate change is having on Bermuda. Our island is under threat from rising temperatures, rising seas, stronger storms and increasing levels of pollution. Climate change is no longer something to worry about in the future. It is impacting us now and each one of us can make changes or choices that could help.
For 2021, make your New Year’s resolutions all about saving Bermuda’s beautiful environment for future generations as well as preparing for what is to come. Here are some ideas for how you can do this:
Reduce Your Meat Consumption
According to the United Nations Environment Programme meat production contributes significantly to climate change beyond just the methane gas produced by cows and sheep.
This is because it takes around 1,695 litres of water to produce just one quarter-pounder burger, and cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in every Amazon nation, accounting for 80 percent of total clearance. Raising animals also takes up around 80 percent of agricultural land, but only contributes to 18 percent of the world’s calories.
However, if you want to make a difference, you don’t have to go from chomping carnivore on December 31st to virtuous vegan by January 1st. That is a strategy doomed to failure. Start by reducing your meat consumption, especially lamb and beef, by one day a week or try replacing red meat with chicken or fish.
For meat-free meal inspiration follow Nutritional Therapist Sarah Wight on Instagram at #swnutrition or www.swnutrition.bm or try foodie “Clean Eat Kates” recipes on thebermudian.com or her Instagram page, #cleaneatkates.
Do you have an idea about how to help preserve Bermuda’s natural environment but worry no one will listen? Discover your inner activist and try a petition. Change.org is a good place to start and fossil fuels a good issue to start with.
Burning fossil fuels is one of the leading causes of climate change. One way to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is to increase our island’s reliance on renewable energy sources. Stratton Hatfield, Eco-warrior and Director of Development at Be Solar, gave us this petition suggestion: “Currently, less than 2 percent of Bermuda’s electricity is produced with renewable resources, a small amount is produced by incinerating waste and the rest by burning imported foreign fuel. There are currently no legislated renewable energy targets. Our New Year’s wish is that the Government of Bermuda and the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda enact legislation to require that 95 percent of our electricity is produced with renewable energy sources by 2040.”
Buy Local, Seasonal Food
By buying local, seasonal food from Bermuda’s farmers or fishermen you’re not just helping to create a healthy environment by reducing polluting “food miles,” you are also creating a healthier you.
There was a time, when you could only get certain types of fruits and vegetables at certain times of the year, but now we can get anything we want whenever we want (except bananas!)—or can we? Taste a freshly picked strawberry bought from the farmers’ market and then taste an imported offering from a supermarket. They are not the same.
Because of the time they have to travel, imported fruit and vegetables are often picked before they ripen and then locked in cargo holds and shipping containers for days, which has a detrimental impact on their nutritional value.
Change your food-buying habits in 2021 to focus on seasonal, locally grown fruit and vegetables as well as Bermudian chicken and locally caught fish.
Even before the carbon dioxide emissions have come through the exhaust pipe, petroleum products have already caused significant harm to the environment through the extraction and shipping process. The motor vehicles we drive also have a direct impact on Bermuda’s eco-system as Dr Jamie Bacon, education officer and research associate at the Bermuda Zoological Society, explained in The Bermudian’s summer issue. Used motor oil and petrol fumes are running off into ponds causing deformities in toads, killifish and red-eared slider terrapins.
Help eliminate these pollutants in 2021 by going electric. Evolution Motors has two electric car options available: A B Class “Zuojun – z60” and an E Class “LEVDEO – i5” which can go for up to 200km and 255km respectively when fully charged.
World Distributors has a variety of electric motorbikes or scooters the equivalent of either 50cc or 125cc, which can travel between 80km and 170 km when fully charged.
If you happen to have solar panels installed at home, the benefit is all the greater because when charging your electric vehicle, you will not only be reducing your reliance on fossil fuels, but you will be reducing your BELCO bills too.
In the Summer 2020 issue of The Bermudian, Kyla Smith, science education officer at BIOS and a member of the Bermuda Marine Debris Taskforce, explained how plastic pollution was damaging marine life around Bermuda.
This isn’t the only way plastic is damaging our natural world. According to a study by the Centre for International Environmental Law, the production and incineration of plastic was expected to add over 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Make 2021 the year you reduce your reliance on plastic and pick some, or all, of these ideas to achieve this:
• Take a reusable shopping bag everywhere you go.
• Invest in a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, smoothie cup, reusable straw and/or bento box to reduce take-out packaging; get in the habit of always keeping these handy such as in your car or desk.
• When buying packaged products, choose glass or aluminium containers instead of plastic, which can’t be recycled in Bermuda.
• Use bars of soap instead of shower gels or cleansers which come in plastic bottles.
• Frequent shops committed to sustainability such as Salt & Cedar, which specialise in bathroom products with minimal packaging including “soap bar” shampoo which can be kept in bamboo boxes; bamboo toothbrushes and refilling stations.
• If your home coffee machine doesn’t use recyclable “pods,” use a cafetière instead.
• Help clean up the plastic waste that litters our parks and beaches by taking a reusable bag on your walks for all the litter and washed-up plastic you are likely to see or join a Keep Bermuda Beautiful clean-up.
Buy Less “Stuff”
The manufacturing process can be devastating to our environment. One of the biggest culprits is the fast fashion industry. It’s hard to see a shop selling jeans for $20 a pair and not buy five pairs, but there’s a reason they are cheap and, chances are, they won’t last. Also, did you really need them in the first place or did you just buy them because they were cheap?
Consider investing in quality not quantity in 2021. Do your research about a brand. A pair of jeans might cost four times more than you would usually spend, but they might last eight times longer. A good research source for local shops and brands is Danielle Paynter’s The Nab App—www.nab.bm.
For other “stuff” in general, give the gift of an experience to those you care about instead. A restaurant outing, a day out on the water, a Dockyard experience, Kristin White’s bicycle tours in St. George’s. The options are endless. Instead of a physical gift, my five-year-old was taken to Portofino for lunch by her godfather for her birthday. Three months later, she still talks about it!
Prepare for the Hurricane before Hurricane Season
When my husband and I were wiring our rotting shutters together in advance of Hurricane Humberto in 2019, we said, “We really must get these replaced before the next hurricane season.”
When we were, once again, wiring them together in advance of hurricanes Paulette and Teddy, giving each other worried glances as bits of shutter came off in our hands, we once again said, “We really MUST get these replaced NOW’.
In The Bermudian’s fall issue, Dr Mark Guishard explained that stronger hurricanes are here to stay and, chances are, Bermuda will be impacted by a strong Category 4 storm in the near future. A warmer climate means warmer seas, which means stronger storms. Don’t be like me! Start preparing your home for 2021’s hurricane season in January!