The scale of the challenge
Consumption-based emissions include greenhouse gases emitted during the production of food, clothes and textiles, as well as emissions from building infrastructure, aviation, private transport manufacturing, and the production of electronic equipment and household appliances. Aether estimated that consumption-based emissions in Merton are over 3.5 times higher than all the direct emissions combined (i.e. emissions from energy use and transport in the borough). Reducing our consumption-based emissions will therefore be an important part of getting to net-zero carbon.
By 2050, all individuals, businesses and organisations will need to reduce their carbon footprint to net-zero through lifestyle and product choices. This section of the Climate Strategy and Action Plan considers actions which reduce emissions from the things we buy and sell by changing what we eat, how we use products and services, and how we avoid waste through prevention, recycling and re-use.
What you can do
Step 1 - Choose products and services which are low carbon and sustainable, and reduce waste
- Reduce waste – There are carbon emissions associated with the production, transportation and disposal of everything we buy. You can reduce your carbon footprint by keeping those resources in use for longer and reducing the amount of waste you generate.
Food – It takes a lot of energy and water to produce, package and transport the food we buy. Making a change to our diets is one of the simplest and most effective ways to decrease our individual carbon footprints. It can also save us money and improve our health and wellbeing.
- Say no to single use items and re-use.
- Care and repair for the things you buy to make them last longer.
- For one off or short term projects, consider renting things through Morden's Library of Things.
- When you do generate waste, recycle all you can at home and on-the-go.
- Pass on unwanted items to friends and family, through swap events or via charity shops.
- Become a Waste Warrior, and check out Sustainable Merton's other waste campaigns for more ideas of how you can help.
Clothes & Textiles - 11 million items of clothing go to landfill in the UK every week. Check out the LoveNotLandfill website for ideas on how you can reduce your fashion footprint.
- Eat more plants and less meat and dairy - moving from a high-meat diet to a low-meat diet could reduce your dietary emissions by 35%.
- Eat seasonally and locally – look at the labels to find out where your food has come from, and how far it has travelled. Check out Abundance Wimbledon to find out how you can access local fruit. Eat Seasonably have a helpful guide to UK produce.
- Grow your own food – you can find out more about community gardening in Merton here and more information on getting an allotment here.
- Reduce food waste by planning and shopping smart, and storing food properly – You can find lots of tips at Love Food Hate Waste and #FoodSavvy. As well as saving carbon, reducing food waste can save you money. If you do have excess food, consider donating to Merton's community fridge or your local food bank. If it's past the point of being shared, make sure you compost.
- Check out Sustainable Merton's food campaigns for more ideas of how you can help.
Plastics – Plastic pollution has lasting impacts on the environment. Check out Sustainable Merton's #PlasticFreeMerton campaign for ideas on how you can help.
- Buy fewer, better quality clothes that you love.
- Re-use and repair your clothes – you can make clothes last longer by washing them with care and making small repairs.
- Share or swap your clothes – if your clothes are still wearable, give them to a charity shop or swap them at a clothes exchange event. Check out SwopItUp, a local clothes sharing initiative in schools.
- Rent clothes – if you need an item of clothing for a one off event or for the short term, consider renting it.
- Recycle – if your clothes have reached the end of their life, don't put them in with your general waste. Look up your collection days to find out if you have a textiles collection: it will be listed as a separate service. If you do, put textiles and shoes in one tied plastic carrier bag beside or on top of your bins or boxes. Otherwise, take them to a textile bank so that they can be recycled.
- Carry reusable shopping bags
- Say no to flimsy plastic produce bags – use a reusable net bag to buy loose fruit and vegetables
- Avoid plastic-wrapped fruits and vegetables
- Avoid bottled water – drink tap water and carry a refillable bottle when out. Find out more about Refill Merton here.
- Use re-usable cups when you're on-the-go.
- Try local markets or zero waste shops
- Recycle whenever you can – find out more about what you can recycle here.
Businesses and organisations can also help to build a low carbon economy in Merton, by:
- Working with their supply chains to reduce emissions.
- Providing local, sustainable and healthy products.
- Minimising waste and single-use products.
- Avoiding investment in/ procuring companies which produce high emissions.
- Providing information on the carbon footprint of their products and services.
- Encouraging low carbon behaviour in their staff and clients.
- Joining Sustainable Merton's Business Network for Climate Action.
Step 2 - Get involved in our Climate Action Group
The Green Economy sub-group will be looking at how we can reduce consumption-based emissions in Merton.
Step 3 - Spread the word
In order to become a net-zero carbon borough, everyone working or living in Merton is going to need to play their part. You can help spread the word to get your friends, family and co-workers thinking about how they can reduce their carbon footprint.
What we will do
- Encourage sustainable consumption, waste reduction and low carbon behaviours via our climate communications.
- Support and deliver local initiatives which promote a low carbon economy such as the Morden Library of Things.
- Encourage waste reduction and recycling through our waste strategy.
- Encourage and support community action via our Climate Action Group.
- Encourage and support sustainable behaviours in businesses through Merton's Best Business Awards.
- Participate in pan-London discussions to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy, and maximise opportunities to promote a green recovery from Covid-19.