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An ever-increasing human population and industrialization are having a huge impact on our planet. We can make a positive difference by changing our lifestyle choices, without having to give up all the things we love. The biggest sources of our ecological footprint are energy and food.

Our planet, our responsibility
What we know about the human footprint on the planet is quite scary. So, what can we all do to save our home, the planet we share with almost 8 billion people, and incredible plants and species?

The first thing is to consider your own personal footprint, which is the indicator of human pressure on nature. Everything we do makes a demand on nature – the food we eat, the clothes we buy, the way we choose to travel.

The demands made by each and every one of us are too much for our planet. Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and eight months to regenerate what we use in a year. A good start towards lightening your load on our planet is to understand the extent of your own impact. Here are few more tips and suggestions:
1. Change what you eat
One of the best things you can do for our planet is to change what you eat.  Eating a healthy and balanced diet with a larger proportion and a wider variety of plant-based foods, only buying meat and fish from sustainable sources, and not wasting food, all help to protect our planet.
  • Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods and ensure they make up a large proportion of your diet
  • Choose seafood from sustainable resources (search for sustainability certificates) and avoid eating types of fish which are over-harvested
  • Opt for sustainably produced meat – if you can't find a trusted certification ask your supplier if they know where the meat you buy comes from
  • Never buy more than you will eat; in restaurants, take your leftovers home with you for the next meal.
2. Be energy efficient
The most important thing we can do for our planet is to drastically reduce our CO2 emissions. As a start, be energy efficient!
You can do it in a few very simple steps, which include:
  • Turn off the tv, computers, and other electronics when they're not in use. They use 10-60% of power even when on ‘stand by’.
  • Install energy-efficient light bulbs. And, of course, like all electrical items, switch off the lights when they're not in use.
  • Wash economically. Use your washing machine or dishwasher only when you have a full load, and select economy programmes and/or the lowest possible temperature.
  • Set the temperature on your heating system a little lower to save energy. Sometimes putting on an extra sweater is more effective and it saves you money on heating bills.
3. Use your consumer power
It is very important and yet so simple to be an informed and selective shopper. If you choose environmentally friendly food and goods instead of the ones produced in an unsustainable manner, companies will have to change their practices.
In particular:
  • Watch your soaps and cosmetics
  • Choose good paper and wood products – search for the FSC logo. If it doesn’t have this label, it may well have come from illegal or controversial sources and so have harmed forests, wildlife and local communities.
  • Look for ecolabels – they indicate better produced products
4. Don’t flush forests down the toilet
Wherever you are – at work, on vacation, shopping or at home – always apply this mantra: save water and paper!
  • Save water: public water systems require a lot of energy to purify and distribute water to households – so saving water can lower greenhouse gas emissions. Also make sure the water thermostat isn’t set above 60°C, and take short showers.
  • Save paper: around the world we use 1 million tonnes of paper every day. Too much of this paper usage is wasteful and unnecessary and puts huge pressure on the environment. Follow a few golden rules: think before you print; use both sides of the sheet of paper and reduce your paper consumption by 50%; avoid printing out emails or unnecessary copies of documents; and recycle the paper you have and ask for recycled paper products.
5. Make better travel choices
Whether it's getting to work, going on vacation, or just doing the grocery shopping, how you move about – and what you do at your destination – can have a big impact on the planet.