You can lead by example.

We know that lifestyle changes won't stop runaway climate change, but every little bit helps - and the way we live our lives can be living proof that a safe, just climate future is 100% possible.

© WWF / Aaron Bryant

Individual lifestyle choices matter

Ever wondered how much difference your small actions really make? Back in 2008, WWF-New Zealand decided to find out. We worked with Landcare Research’s carboNZero Programme to investigate just how much change individual New Zealanders' lifestyles mattered.

We found that if every Kiwi made three simple changes - not driving one day a week, switching to LED or compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and turning un-needed appliances off at the wall - Aotearoa New Zealand could save 386,500 tonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases per year. That's equivalent to over 839,000 car journeys from Kataia to Invercargill.

So it all adds up. Small actions matter. 

What you can do

There are lots of small, achievable changes that ordinary New Zealanders can make to help lower our ecological footprints. It's up to you to decide which work for you, but here are a few ideas:

© Cristy Cameron
  1. Use public transport, walk, or cycle - around 20% of New Zealand's emissions come from transport. Even just not driving one day a week can make a big difference.

  2. Choose renewable electricity - around three quarters of New Zealand's electricity comes from renewable sources, and WWF's modelling has shown that we could reach 100% renewable electricity by 2025. Some New Zealand electricity companies are powered by 100% renewable electricity - where does your power come from?

  3. Don't waste electricity - You've probably already changed your lightbulbs to LEDs or compact fluorescant bulbs, but it's still great to turn them off when you're not in the room. It also helps to unplug appliances at the wall, wash clothes in cold water (which is often better for the clothes too!) and not use a clothes dryer unnecessarily.

  4. Cut waste and recycle - This one's a big win-win. What's good for the world's ecosystems is good for the climate. Rubbish sent to the landfill emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

  5. Fly less Flying has a big carbon footprint. When there are alternatives, like taking a bus or train for your holiday elsewhere in New Zealand or replacing an in-person meeting with a videoconference, use them (we do!).

  6. Eat differently - About half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture. Eating locally-grown, organic food makes a difference, and cutting out meat and animal products can make an even bigger change. Can you have a plant-based diet just one day a week?

These are just suggestions, not a checklist. There are always other ways to lower your impact. Climate action is not one size fits all, so all we're asking is that you do what works for you in your life situation.

By making these climate-smart choices, you're helping to lead by example. You're making your own life proof that together a safe, just climate future is 100% possible.

But we need your voices too

New Zealand emits over 80 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases every year. The only way to switch to a 100% renewable, zero net carbon future by 2050 is by engaging with government and businesses to transform our economy.

Building a safe, just climate future all New Zealanders is about siezing the opportunities of the new, clean energy economy. It doesn't need to be about self-sacrifice.

Ordinary New Zealanders can make really huge changes by engaging with businesses and government. Here's a couple of ways you can join us in calling for a clean energy future:

Together, a 100% renewable energy future is 100% possible. Let's do this.