Your world. Your verdict: the small but beautiful ways that can help the fight to save the planet

Last week, following the launch of an all-party inquiry into climate change, we invited Independent readers to send in suggestions for saving the planet. The response was huge. Today we publish a summary of the most popular ideas which, if put into practice, would be potent weapons in the fight against global warming

A A A

Change a light bulb - and help save the planet. When it comes to the big question of how the world responds to the threat of climate change, it is clear that it is the small, everyday things that can really matter.

This is a major theme to have emerged in the phenomenal response to The Independent's appeal to readers for their views on how to tackle global warming, given the seeming inability of politicians, in Britain at least, to find ways of reducing carbon emissions.

But among the hundreds of letters and e-mails there are also demands for bigger, more fundamental changes - encouraging people to work from home, reducing packaging on consumer goods, enforced recycling and banning four-wheel drives from cities.

Fundamentally, there is also an underlying message common to ideas both big and small: that people desperately want politicians to take action to make these things come about. It is based in the knowledge that this must be a collective issue and that for every one of us who voluntarily makes those big and small adjustments in our lifestyles, there are many millions more who need to be told, encouraged and, if necessary, forced to make the moves needed to preserve the future for their children - and those of everybody else.

Heidi Siggers wrote: "We have replaced all the light bulbs in our two-bedroomed house with low-energy bulbs. We now use the same amount of watts for the whole house as we did with one 60-watt bulb before ... Why not make the eco-bulbs compulsory? As this Government seems so keen on banning things, why not ban something worthwhile?" All the contributions from our readers are being forwarded to the All-Party Climate Change Group, led by the Labour MP Colin Challen, who has argued that radical initiatives, free of narrow party political concerns, may have to be taken.

It is a call taken up by Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth: "We have long campaigned on all these issues. But it is vital that the Government introduces a legislative framework to reduce carbon emissions. It is wonderful that people see the connections between small actions and the bigger picture of saving the planet. But such people are still in the minority and the Government urgently has to make it easier for everyone else to help save the planet.''

The contributions from Independent readers range from the micro-issue of the light bulbs in our homes to the macro-economics of the world and a realisation that the driving force behind climate change is simply the pursuit of economic growth. Richard Houlden wrote: "We cannot continue to allow individuals and corporations driven by personal short-term gain to continue to perpetuate the myth of economic growth as a global panacea."

In between these two poles, our readers argue that a series of straightforward changes are needed, all of which require legislation and public money in one form or another.

Clearly, transport of all kinds is a major issue. "The best transport solutions are to walk and cycle where we can, and giving proper funding to make public transport really usable and convenient for people," said Dr Andrew Boswell from Norwich, a theme taken up by many readers. There were many calls to ban the use of "gas-guzzling" four-wheel drive cars in cities, They "epitomise the greedy, self-indulgent, oil-driven Western world,'' said Hugh Mitchell.

What one reader called the "madness" of cheap flights is also seen as an unnecessary luxury: "Charge the actual environmental cost of flights to the end user,'' wrote Valerie Fitch from Maidenhead.

Also important is way we build new homes without sufficient consideration of energy use. "They should all have solar panels; much, much better insulation; condensing boilers, etc. These items wouldn't be so expensive if they were mass produced," said Maggie Postle from Dorset. For many readers, the home is the key - banning patio heaters, wearing more clothes and fitting triple glazing, were all enthusiastically endorsed.

And once we have our eco-friendly homes, we should be encouraged to spent more time working from them, to reduce car travel and transport congestion, say readers. "The technology exists, but it will need a new breed of managers who do not measure productivity by presenteeism," wrote Richard Curtis, from Newport Pagnell.

Proposals for change

Fit new buildings with solar panels or wind turbines

* PRO: Would reduce reliance on fossil fuels and provide renewable source of energy. Solar panels are benign and getting better at converting sunlight into electrical power.

* Against: Wind turbines would pose planning problems as well raising concerns over health and safety. Larger turbines already opposed on grounds of unsightliness and interference to birds. Solar and wind power may not be substitute for fossil fuels.

Label products according to their effect on climate:

* Pro: Would raise awareness among consumers about environmental impact of products. Could lead to companies competing in terms of being environmentally friendly.

* Against: Difficult to judge product's true impact on environment.

Force passengers to pay environmental cost of flying:

* Pro: Would have an impact on one of biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions.

* Against: True environmental cost of flying difficult to assess and would be difficult to reach a consensus.

Public transport should be made cheaper:

* Pro: Minimises pollution in urban areas.

* Against: Trains are infrequent in certain areas.

Make energy- efficient light bulbs compulsory:

* Pro: Compact florescent light bulbs use up to 67 per cent less energy than traditional bulbs, and last 10 times longer. Incandescent bulbs waste 90 per cent of their energy as heat.

* Against: Currently CFLs cost between £5 and £8 each, compared with less than £1 for an ordinary incandescent bulb

Encourage people to work from home:

* Pro: Companies could reduce road congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and help revive rural communities.

* Against: Companies would have to stump up to install computers and home offices for workers. Health and safety standards could be hard to enforce, and employees used to might find home-working an isolating experience.

Use the law to encourage recycling:

* Pro: Britain produces some 28.2 tonnes of household waste every year. Of this 87 per cent is incinerated or dumped in landfills, yet most household waste is suitable for either composting or recycling.

* Against: Collecting, sorting and recycling waste not cheap - councils with high recycling rates spend up to three times as much on waste collection as other local authorities.

Ban 4x4 cars from cities

* Pro: Would reduce harmful emissions and would make roads safer for other motorists and pedestrians.

* Against: Motorists are still buying them - 187,000 4x4s were sold in Britain last year.

Reduce packaging on products

* Pros: Would drastically reduce the amount of waste we produce.

* Against: Recyclable wrapping can be more expensive, with costs passed on to buyers.

Ban patio heaters

* Pro: There are 750,000 in Britain producing 380,000 tons of greenhouse gases every year.

* Against: Ban would be difficult to police.

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking EY...

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: NEWLY QUALIFIED TEACHER WE CAN HELP ...

Lead FE Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, jQuery, Knockout)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead FE Softwa...

Year 4 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 4 Primary Teachers needed for Se...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor