Caring for Our Common Home: reflecting on making personal change and influencing wider society

Andy is a campaigns and parish volunteer for CAFOD

Andy Wansbury is a CAFOD volunteer in Bexleyheath. As well as sharing thoughts on personal actions, he asks how do we challenge our wide society to take action on climate change?

Climate Change is the big issue we all have to face and rightly we are all asked what can we do to reduce our carbon emissions. We are asked to use public transport and not drive unnecessarily, to use green electricity, and to insulate our homes to a higher standard. This is a starting point for many of us. We can look further at our own lives: are there other things we can do? As an example, 75 -80% of clothing’s carbon footprint comes after purchase and predominantly comes from washing and drying. The average household does 270 laundry washes per year (source We can reduce the carbon footprint of our clothes in several easy ways: making sure that we don’t do a wash until we have a full load for the machine; using lower temperatures i.e. 30O and not 40O as 90% of the energy used to wash clothes is used to heat the water; washing clothes less often; and where we have suitable outdoor spaces hanging clothes outside to dry rather than use a tumble dryer or a heated drying rack. It isn’t always possible to do all these things every time but each action helps. Take our Carbon Footprint Quiz and find out more about how you can cut your carbon emissions:

These are personal actions that we can take. We should also look around society and challenge all sectors to reduce their CO2 emissions.

F1 on race track

As a follower of sport, I asked myself what the world of sport can do to reduce its carbon emissions. Look at Formula 1 motor racing. They race 20 cars (at approximately 6 mpg) for 190 miles or 2hrs (whichever comes first) round a closed circuit ending up exactly where they started, then fly the teams and cars around the world to a different country just to do the same thing again 2 weeks later. Formula 1 motor produces approximately 256,551 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Formula 1 is just one of the many motor racing competitions held every week.

Should we not challenge motor sport to reduce their carbon emissions, maybe by going electric? Football and Rugby spend their seasons crisscrossing Britain and Europe just to compete; could there be more regional based competitions? Both these sports have large numbers of fans who travel to away games, but should we have away fans? Cricket used to be a daytime only sport, but with the advent of floodlighting it is increasingly playing evening and night games under lights, which increases CO2 emissions. Should we have less floodlight cricket to cut carbon emissions? Sports like tennis and golf and athletics rely on globally based tournaments which require international travel international travel for those who compete. These a just a few examples of sports that create carbon emissions that can be challenged. Not just these sports but all sports should look their carbon footprints and see how they can reduce their emissions. These are just some examples; I am not saying that this is what should happen in specific cases, but they are important questions we should ask.

Sport is not the only industry that creates carbon in the name of entertainment. The television industry also needs to be examined. As a simple example, weather forecasts used to be broadcast from the TV studios but now on Breakfast TV the weather forecast is delivered from many different locations around the country; this is in response to viewers requests. Would returning to studio-based weather forecasts reduce the broadcaster’s footprint? We are the viewers, so we can make these requests for change.

You can raise awareness of climate change and fundraise for CAFOD by taking on a carbon neutral sporting challenge:

CAFOD offer us the opportunity to influence government wider society through campaigning and advocating for those living in poverty who are experiencing the worst impacts of climate change. Take part in our Reclaim Our Common Home campaign and join us in urging Rishi Sunak to show climate leadership ahead of the COP26 climate talks in November. We must prevent communities who’ve done the least to cause the climate crisis from paying the biggest cost.

So, as well as seeing what we can change in our own lives, we can also make a difference by calling for changes in wider society.

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