At Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) we’re making great strides in understanding how we tackle marine plastics that impact Galapagos but, of course, plastics is only part of the pressure facing the Islands. To me, Galapagos represents so much of what is precious to us in the natural world. For the GCT team, the Islands give us a focus for living more sustainably ourselves, knowing ultimately that we all have to adapt and make decisions that have biodiversity and healthy ecosystems at their centre. We want to share some of the principles we as a team take to help you be more sustainable this Earth Day:
Think carefully about what you use
At GCT, our biggest consumable is paper, so we only print when it is absolutely necessary. We continually encourage our supporters to opt for digital communications where they can. When we print, we make sure to use the most sustainable option such as recycled or FSC certified paper and only use printers committed to sustainable practices.
We are also committed to reducing single-use plastics. All our events are single-use plastic-free, and we encourage our staff to minimise plastic both at home and at the office. Why not undertake a plastic audit in your home or office and find out how much plastic you are using and throwing away?
Some top tips to reduce what you buy to use at home and in the office:
- Always carry a reusable water bottle and coffee cup.
- Take reusable shopping bags with you – even if you don't intend to buy anything.
- Don't print out emails and try to edit documents online.
- If you do need to print, use recycled or FSC certified paper and print double-sided.
- Choose for digital magazines over postal subscriptions. Top tip: save money too by checking out the digital magazine selection from your local library!
Beach clean up in Galapagos - © Adam Porter + Galapagos Conservation Trust
What you eat can have a big impact
One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to increase the proportion of plant-based foods in your diet as 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food production. A high-meat diet produces 2.5x more greenhouse gases than a vegan diet.
Some top tips to reduce your carbon footprint:
- If you're not already following a high plant-based diet, try swapping your lunches or a few evening meals a week to vegetarian or vegan.
- Grown your own vegetables at home. If you don't have much space, some vegetables like potatoes or salads can be grown in pots or window boxes.
- Buy locally grown produce and shop with local suppliers.
- Why not try a veg box? As well as helping you get a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, many are plastic-free and locally produced.
- Sign up for a milk bottle delivery service, some now even sell oat milk in reusable glass bottles.
There are so many different ways we can reduce our waste and carbon footprint; it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Remember, we don't need a handful of people living perfectly sustainable lives. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly. Choose a few achievable actions, then slowly add more as you master them.
Surveing plastic in Galapagos - © Galapagos Conservation Trust
Reduce air travel where possible
Did you know a one-way flight from London Heathrow to Galapagos equals 1.7 t CO2? This is roughly the weight of 18 hammerhead sharks. As an international organisation working in the Galapagos Islands, reducing our flight emissions to zero would not be a realistic option. However, we always question our flight usage with a set of guidelines you might find useful too:
- Do you need to be there in person?
- Can you maximise any international flight by extending it to reduce a future trip?
- Is there a more sustainable option i.e., travelling by train?
- Can you go direct rather than have a stopover?
- Don't fly within the UK.
Sea lion - © Miguel Andrade + Galapagos Conservation Trust
Some other top tips from the GCT team to be more sustainable this Earth Day:
- Try taking the stairs not the lift.
- Remember the five R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair and Recycle.
- Try to pick up any litter or rubbish you find in your local area, particularly along coastlines or waterways.
- Swap gifts for experiences such as tickets to events, days out or charity adoptions. GCT offer a range of endangered Galapagos animal adoptions for you to gift to yourself or your loved ones.
- Switch off lights, your electrical equipment and plug sockets when you're not using them.
- Replace your household cleaning products with low waste alternatives like soap bars or dissolvable tablets.
- Try to reduce the number of trips you take in the car. Could you walk, cycle or take public transport instead?
- Use a special washing bag to catch the microfibers from your clothes and stop them from entering the water system.
- Seek out brands that are made from 100% recycled plastic like Rhyme & Reason – did you know that their caps are also made form 100% recycled plastic which is very rare. This also means that both the bottle and cap can be put into the recycling bin and be fully recycled.
- Use GCT's home learning plastic resources with your children to raise awareness of plastic pollution and inspire them to make sustainable choices.
Galapagos Conservation Trust
Rhyme & Reason Expert Circle member