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Fighting climate change can make superheroes of us all

“Saving the world isn’t just for the movies.” Or to put it another way, we all have a part to play in the fight to tackle climate change – it might sound like a cliché but a new national campaign launched on Friday by the Scottish Government aims to find the superhero in us all.

Iain Gulland | 1 Feb 16

By taking simple steps – such as washing our clothes at a lower temperature, avoiding and recycling our food waste, leaving the car at home for short journeys or turning down the thermostat, we can all make a difference,.

It comes after recent surveys revealed that around half of people living in Scotland acknowledge that climate change is an immediate and urgent problem – and eight in ten could do more to care for the environment.

When I look at what the campaign asks of us all as individuals, it reaffirms to me the vital importance of what Zero Waste Scotland is doing in the context of climate change.

Two out of the four asks in the campaign are key to the behaviour change messages which we are constantly promoting to Scots - look after your clothes, and avoid and recycle food waste. We have done research in both areas which demonstrates their sizeable carbon impact. For example, extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints. Tackling the huge amount of food waste we waste nationally could save 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 a year, the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.

Their importance is signified by the fact that we deliver key consumer-facing campaigns on each of these issues – Love Your Clothes and Love Food, Hate Waste.

These are just the two of the most visible aspects of our work which can help reduce hazardous levels of climate changing emissions.

Our report, Carbon Impacts of the Circular Economy is one of the first studies to model the impact of circular economy strategies at a national level on greenhouse gas emissions. It found that material consumption is responsible for over two-thirds of Scotland’s emissions, and that a more circular economy could reduce territorial emissions by 11 million tonnes CO2e per year by 2050, compared to business as usual, while providing continued economic growth.

It applies Zero Waste Scotland’s ground-breaking Carbon Metric, comparing a 2012 baseline with four different scenarios for 2050.

The results highlight the substantial carbon impacts of Scotland’s material consumption as well as providing strong evidence that moving towards a more circular economy could significantly reduce Scotland’s global carbon footprint while still providing long-term economic growth.

Much of our work is about helping groups, businesses and individuals in Scotland adopt circular actions that can have a real impact. Seemingly simple things like action on clothing and food waste are a key part of that.

You and I really can help to save the world.  

To find out more about the campaign, and to accept the mission, visit the Greener Scotland website.

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