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How you can help tackle climate change

Gardener in the community allotments at Minnowburn, County Down
Gardener in the community allotments at Minnowburn, County Down | © National Trust Images/Oskar Proctor

The climate crisis can be overwhelming, but the small actions we take as individuals can help achieve big changes and show governments and businesses what kinds of measures are needed. Whether you're a nature lover, gardener, campaigner or a concerned grandparent, there are lots of ways to make a difference. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

For climate

Take part in Great Big Green Week (8 –16 June)

Every year, Great Big Green Week, coordinated by The Climate Coalition, is a chance for communities and organisations to come together to do something for the good of everyone. It's the UK's biggest celebration of community action and an opportunity to show the impact that working together can have. It's also a chance to inspire others about how we can all do something to help tackle climate change and protect nature.

By taking action at home or helping to look after green spaces near you, you'll join tens of thousands of people across the UK standing up for nature and taking positive steps to address the climate crises.

There are plenty of ways to take part in Great Big Green Week. From joining an event near you to making greener choices at home or in the workplace. You can find Great Big Green Week events near you at the bottom of the page.

Swap together for good

The theme for this year's Great Big Green Week is making swaps together and celebrating, small everyday changes that help create a more sustainable future.

Have you picked up a pre-loved piece that's become a firm favourite in your home or wardrobe? Perhaps you've changed up your commute and are cycling, walking or car-sharing on some days. Are you planting for pollinators and is peat-free compost a swap you've made in your garden, allotment or community green space? Or are you making more plastic-free choices, finding new ways to reuse or repurpose things at home or work?

Collectively, actions like these make a huge difference. Why not share your stories on social media about any changes you've made and what inspired you to take action to protect the environment? Your experience might help others feel more confident about trying new things and making positive swaps.

A white man in a blue vest with a green National Trust logo is in a boiler room inspecting the red dial of a heat pump
A member of the team checking the ground source heat pump that's replaced the old oil tank at Kingston Lacy, Dorset | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Reduce your carbon footprint

According to The Climate Coalition, there’s a lot you can do to reduce your carbon emissions by making changes inside and outside of the home.

By 2030 the National Trust will be carbon net zero across its own emissions and those created by its supply chain, tenanted land and buildings, and investments. Net zero is when we achieve a balance between the carbon released into the atmosphere and the carbon removed from it.

Calculate your carbon emissions

A carbon calculator such as the WWF’s Footprint Calculator will help work out your existing carbon emissions. You can then decide what changes to make to reduce them. These may include walking and cycling more, swapping some meat and dairy in your diet for vegetables, eating more seasonal/locally produced food and saving energy in the home.

Save water

The world's water resources are under pressure so we all need to do our bit to use it wisely. According to Water UK, the average person uses 140 litres of water a day. Water takes energy to filter, heat and pump into our homes.

If you have a garden to collect rainwater (for watering plants), use mulch and bark to reduce moisture evaporating from flower borders and veg patches and avoid using sprinklers to water the lawn. Alternatively, turning the tap off when you brush your teeth could save as much as six litres of water a minute and buying more second-hand clothes helps to protect the resources needed to create new ones. For more tips on how to save water in your bathroom, kitchen and garden visit Waterwise.

Go peat-free

Peatlands hold twice as much carbon as the world’s forests and offer precious habitats for wildlife and plant species, while also preserving archaeological sites. But peat extraction for compost and other uses is destroying peatlands and contributing to carbon emissions. The Westminster Government has introduced a ban on the use of peat in compost in England from 2024 but we're urging all gardeners to stop using peat before it comes into place.

Our gardening experts share their advice on peat-free gardening and creating your own compost.

For nature

Boost biodiversity

The biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis are inextricably linked. We can't tackle one without the other. This is why we’re creating and restoring wildlife habitats and carrying out surveys to see how species of insects, birds and marine and land animals are faring. This data helps us make the changes needed to ensure nature can thrive.

You can support our conservation work by going on a nature trail or by taking part in a survey at your local National Trust place. Alternatively, you could join an annual wildlife count such as the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch survey or the Big Butterfly Count. Find out more about volunteering.

Join the fight against plastic

All living things rely on water, yet our rivers and seas and the wildlife that depend on them are suffering the effects of climate change and plastic pollution.

You can start by reducing the plastic you buy and avoiding single-use plastic where possible. Making careful choices in the supermarket and going to shops that offer refills (from milk to detergent) are good ways to cut plastic waste.

Many plastic items can be reused in the home, shared with others or donated to charities. Your local recycling services will take some of the items you need to dispose of including plastic bottles and containers.

Beeswax wraps and bamboo travel cups are just some of the eco-friendly alternatives that can stop plastic getting into the waterways.

Reusable cups and free water at National Trust places

If you bring a reusable cup to a National Trust place, we'll give you 25p off your hot drink.

We offer free drinking water at all the places in our care, reducing waste from disposable water bottles. We are also on the Refill app, which connects people to places where they can eat, drink and shop with less waste.

Help with the clean up

You could also volunteer for a litter pick or a beach clean at the places in our care. Or there are lots of other events taking place throughout the year with organisations and charities such as Surfers Against Sewage, Keep Britain Tidy, the Canal and River Trust, Greenpeace and the Marine Conservation Society.

Bug hotel at Lydford Gorge, Devon
Bug hotel at Lydford Gorge, Devon | © National Trust Images/Mel Peters

For communities

Helping wildlife on your doorstep

There are lots of things you can do to help wildlife to thrive in your neighbourhood. If you have a garden, why not let the grass grow during the spring to attract bees and other pollinators? You could also make a home for wildlife and make fatballs to help birds during the winter. Here are more tips on how to make your garden wildlife friendly.

Plant a tree

We know that trees are one of our best natural defences against climate change and we need your help to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030. At their peak, these new trees could store up to 300,000 tonnes of carbon a year. For as little as £5, you could plant a tree that will support life for years to come and create more woodlands for future generations to enjoy.

Pass it on

Do you know someone who could use a bit more of the great outdoors in their life? Studies have shown that regularly spending time in nature can significantly improve our health and wellbeing. We also know that if people fall in love with nature they'll be more likely to look after it. Talking to your friends and family about how climate change is affecting their favourite places is a good way of sharing knowledge and getting more people to take action.

So why not treat your loved one to a refreshing coastal walk, a wander through a fragrant garden, or a picnic under the shade of a tree? Every time you visit us you're helping to protect nature, beauty and history for future generations to enjoy.

Two children get up close and peer into a large insect hotel covered with ivy.

Celebrate Great Big Green Week

Share your sustainable swaps, find inspiration and discover Great Big Green Week community events near you.

You might also be interested in

Rangers and HSBC volunteers planting Sphagnum moss at High Peak Estate, Derbyshire

Working towards a green recovery 

With support from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, we're looking for ways to protect our environment and combat climate change. Find out more about the work we're doing.

National Trust volunteers and staff cleaning Bossington Beach, on the Holnicote Estate, Exmoor National Park, Somerset.

Protecting coasts and rivers 

From tips on saving water to combatting plastic pollution, learn more about our work to protect precious coasts and rivers for wildlife and people, and what you can do to help.

A Roka rucksack, blanket and mug

Browse eco gifts on our online shop 

From sunglasses made from wheat straw to pencils that grow into trees, we've got lots of sustainable gifts that don't cost the earth.

Clear evidence how the erosion of the cliffs due to climate change threatens the archeological site of the hillfort at Dinas Dinlle, Gwynedd

How we're tackling climate change 

Climate change is the single biggest threat to the places we care for. Take a look at our environmental pledges as we adapt, reduce carbon emissions and address the damage already done.

Puffin in flight on the Farne Islands, Northumberland

National Trust, RSPB and WWF join forces to save UK nature 

We're urging everyone to help us stop the destruction of nature in the UK with the launch of Save Our Wild Isles, a joint campaign with charities RSPB and WWF. Discover a new documentary about the changes needed to save nature and find out what you can do to help.