by Jill Bruce, Lead Climate Ambassador for the Federation of Essex Women's Institutes

BLACK Friday doesn’t just take our money.

It endangers swallows and takes food off our supermarket shelves.

Perhaps I should explain.

Twenty years ago, swallows would arrive in the spring, nest on my house and raise their young, who would then practice their aerobatics around me in my garden. It was magical.

Then drought dried up the oasis they depended on for their migration to and from South Africa.

Some were shot as they flew over Malta and numbers of the flying insects they rely on for food every day declined.

In recent years, we have only seen them as they congregate on telephone lines ready to fly away in the autumn and this too may soon pass.

Our longer, milder autumns are tricking swallows into thinking they can survive our winters here in the UK.

Some have been seen as late as January, but not in February.

It only takes a brief cold snap of two or three days for all the flying insects to disappear, leaving those beautiful birds with nothing to eat when they most need it.

This is happening to swallows all around the world, so that one of the world’s most widespread birds has become very vulnerable.

Climate change doesn’t just threaten swallows’ food supply - it threatens ours, too.

We are used to seeing fruit like the grapes on our supermarket shelves come from as far afield as Peru, China and South Africa when out of season in Europe.

Many of our vegetables are grown in Morocco and Kenya.

Defra figures show the UK contribution to our fresh produce supply fell from 55 per cent in 1988 to 33 per cent in 2013.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Jill Bruce is Lead Climate Ambassador for the Federation of Essex Women's Institutes

Three-quarters of the freshwater used to grow fruit and veg for the UK comes from countries with a high risk of water scarcity such as Spain, Egypt, South Africa, Chile, Morocco, Israel and Peru.

If we allow climate change to continue around the world then much of our fresh food supply will be affected and we will see higher prices and less choice, perhaps even some empty shelves in our supermarkets in the next few years.

But we don’t have to allow climate change to continue around the world.

We can write to our MPs, asking that international aid is kept at current levels and used to help underdeveloped countries cut their emissions with green energy initiatives.

We can cut emissions from our own homes by installing more insulation and wearing warmer clothes instead of turning up the heating.

The easiest way to keep our emissions down is to avoid buying any more manufactured goods, whether produced from materials that have been mined and made with fossil fuel, or clothes made from cotton using huge quantities of scarce water to grow and process it.

We will all be tempted by Black Friday offers to buy things we didn’t know we wanted, but be strong and resist passing temptations!

By learning to ignore those advertisements and only buying what we need, we can help ensure we and our children will still be able to enjoy a wide choice of food for many more years and we can help Save Our Swallows too.