- Category: Strategies, plans and policies
- Last Updated: 25 August 2015
- The global picture.
- Locally in Ryedale.
- What can I do to make my lifestyle more sustainable?.
In 1983 the United Nations Secretary General asked Gro Harlem Bruntland (ex Norweigan Prime Minister) to create an organisation independent of the UN to focus on environmental and developmental problems and solutions. The Brundtland Commission (or World Commission on Environment and Development) was formed.
In 1987, the Brundtland Commission published a report ('Our Common Future'), which contained the most commonly used definition of sustainable development:
"development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
The Commission's work strongly influenced the world's first Earth Summit (United Nations Conference on Development and the Environment), in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which was a milestone in raising environmental awareness. Subsequent conferences have been held in New York (1997), Johannesburg (2002) and back in Rio de Janeiro (2012).
Agenda 21 (ie. an agenda for the 21st Century) is a global action plan for sustainable development, drawn up and endorsed at the 1992 Earth Summit by the United Kingdom and over 170 other nations. It aims to improve quality of life and environments across the world.
Local Agenda (or Action) 21 is the involvement of communities in sustainable development at grass roots level. The most important objectives of LA 21 are to involve members of the public in decisions affecting the environment, and to encourage individuals and communities to take responsibility for their local environment.
The support of local authorities is crucial to the success of Agenda 21, since they can assist in implementing up to two-thirds of the action plan towards sustainable development. Local authorities, such as Ryedale District Council work in partnership with other organisations in order to achieve such an aim. The Council has a strategy, entitled 'Imagine Ryedale', which addresses many of these issues.
The aim of the strategy is to consider economic, social and environmental issues equally together, rather than independently of each other. The aim is to ensure people have the means to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life, while living within environmental limits.
By consuming less, producing things differently and reducing environmental impacts, householders and local businesses can make a difference.
Make a start by calculating your carbon footprint which measures the total amount of carbon dioxide created through lifestyle choices, and products and activities, consumed daily. By understanding your footprint you can take steps to reduce it.
Below are some simple 'top tips'.
- Switch off appliances (TV's, DVD's, stereos, play stations, PCs, printers etc) when not in use. Leaving unused appliances on standby means they're still using energy. It costs nothing to switch things off!
- Boil only as much water as you need in a kettle.
- Set the hot water cylinder thermostat at 60°C/140°F - fine for most uses.
- Reduce central heating thermostat by 1°C. If you have a programmer, set heating and hot water to come on when required rather than all the time.
- Use thermostatic radiator valves to control temperatures in different rooms.
- Double glazing and heavy lined curtains minimise heat loss from windows.
- Loft insulation is the most cost-effective and energy efficient measure to reduce heat loss and is easy to install. Check walls to see if cavity insulation (or dry lining for solid walls) has been put. Also, look to see if draught proofing can be improved.
- Turn off lights when leaving a room. It's always cheaper to switch off lights however short the period!
- A 40°C washing machine cycle uses far less electricity than a 60°C cycle.
- Hang wet clothes out to dry if possible and minimise using a tumble dryer.
- Use a lid on a pan when cooking.
- Use low energy compact fluorescent (cfl) or light emitting diode (led) lighting, where possible. These lamps last a lot longer than ordinary bulbs and will save you money.
- There are often grants or funding available for energy efficiency measures. Visit the Yorkshire Energy Partnership and the Energy Saving Trust websites.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Recycling eases demands on natural resources and saves energy. Try not to waste food. See more tips on how to reduce your waste.
- Use water wisely. Have more showers instead of baths. Install water butts for garden use/car washing and limit use of hosepipes. Check out your water footprint here.
- When buying a car have a look at fuel efficiency figures and emissions (gCO2 /km).
- Reduce the number of short trips you make in the car and try walking or cycling.
- Use public transport, where possible.
- Try car sharing or cycling to work, even if it is just one day a week.
- Try to adopt a smoother driving style. Harsh acceleration and heavy braking uses more fuel, as well as increasing wear of tyres and other parts.
- Keep to speed limits. Excessive speed usually results in poor fuel efficiency in most cars.
- Regularly check tyre pressures. Under inflated tyres can be dangerous, they wear out more quickly and can increase fuel consumption.
- Regular servicing will ensure the engine runs efficiently, saving fuel.
- Unnecessary idling wastes fuel, causes rapid engine wear and affects air quality, particularly in built up areas. If you are stuck in a traffic jam, switch off. Some modern cars are designed to do this automatically.
To remain competitive all businesses need to review costs regularly.
Waste, water, energy and transport fuel costs are all becoming a significantly increasing element of overall costs to businesses. This is likely to remain the case for the long term, so a simple audit is a good place to start. You may be surprised how much can be saved through good housekeeping measures. The Carbon Trust has a footprint calculator which may help.
Also, have a look at low cost modern technology innovations such as passive infra-red sensors to control lighting, trackers in vehicles (if logistics are a significant part of the business) or renewable energy solutions (if you are a high energy user).
There is a lot of information out there but a good place to start is the Ryedale Route Map, showing which organisation is best able to help you with your specific need.