This post is needed badly more than ever. So, here are 10 easy ways that you can personally combat climate change. You will hardly notice these small differences and rest easier knowing you did your part to help future generations.
“In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.”- David Suzuki
1.- Eat Organic
Organic food is good for us because we’re not putting non-organic pesticides in our bodies, but organic food is also grown without synthetic fertilizers, most of which begin as byproducts of oil refining. So, when you don’t buy non-organic produce, you are in turn support the oil industry which is one of the largest contributors to climate change. Many crops are also over-fertilized, and some of that excess nitrogen ends up in the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 298 times more potent than CO2.
Not to mention non-organic farming costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year. While organic food might seem more expensive, in reality, cost of large-scale agriculture costs so much more in the long run. In order to keep the extremely expensive, large-scale, non-organic farming practice running millions of taxpayer dollars are handed out in subsidies.
As giant agricultural businesses continue to dominate food production, small family farms have trouble competing with big business prices. When you buy organic, you support farmers who actually support the environment instead of hurt it. Also, you create a bigger sense of community when you support your local farmers.
While yes, buying organic can be expensive and not everyone can afford to purchase organic produce all the time, you can still make small changes in the way your grocery shop. Education is key my friend. Here are lists of foods with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticides used to help your eco-friendly shopping habits.
2.- Line Dry your Clothes
Yes, dryers are very convenient, but they are extremely damaging to the environment. When you line dry your clothes, you are not using excessive amounts of energy, so your electricity bill will be a lot lighter. Not to mention clothes last longer, this means you won’t need to replace them as often with cheap fast fashion.
The sun is a natural whitener that allows you to skip the bleach and who needs a synthetic “outdoors smell” when you can have the real thing? Sure, dryers make your clothes softer, but they also weaken the fabric’s fibers faster. Since line-drying takes more time, you become more aware of how badly you need to wash your clothes and decide if it can wait until a later time. It creates laundry consciousness while fighting climate change.
3.- Use Energy Wisely
Canada is the top per-capita energy consumer in the world! By becoming more energy-efficient, you not only fight climate change but save money too.
Consider making some or all of these small changes. Together, they can really add up.
- Change to energy-efficient light bulbs.
- Install a heat pump in your home. Heat pumps work by extracting heat from one location and transferring it to another.
- Unplug computers, TVs, and other electronics when you’re not using them.
- Wash clothes in cold water.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
- Winterize your home and try to keep it naturally cool in the summer.
4.- Reduce your Meat consumption
Become a vegetarian, or better yet a vegan.
The meat industry contributes to global warming in three massive ways. Firstly, cows’ burping and releasing gases (yes, seriously) from eating food contributes to methane, a greenhouse gas. Secondly, cows consume mostly maize and soy, which makes for a very inefficient process and takes viable food sources away from impoverished countries. And finally, they require lots of water, fertilizers that can release greenhouse gases, and large amounts of land. Some of this land comes from cleared forests, another source of carbon emission.
Greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture were previously thought to be around 20%. However, now the Worldwatch Institute is actually estimating the percentage to be closer to 50. That is insane. Even if we clean up all the transportation, energy, industry, and commerce in the world, we have only fixed half the climate change problem.
The other half of the problem comes from meat and dairy.
At this point, if you genuinely want to help do your part, consider significantly lowering your animal product intake. Refuse to eat it. There are so many wonderful meat and dairy alternatives, you don’t have to go without them in this day and age. If this seems too challenging, consider giving it up one day a week, then two days, and so on. This is hands down the most important action you can take. By reducing your consumption of animal protein by half, you can cut your diet’s carbon footprint by more than 40%
“If everyone in the U.S. gave up meat and cheese just one day a week, it would be equivalent to not driving 91 billion miles, or taking 7.6 million cars off the road”Environmental Working Group
5.- Cut back on Heat or Air Conditioning
It is tempting when the weather is hot to crank the AC but think twice before turning that dial. This can contribute significantly to climate change and skyrocket your electricity bills. Adding insulation to your walls and attic, and installing weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows can lower your heating costs by more than 25 percent, by reducing the amount of energy you need to heat and cool your home.
Turn down the heat while you’re sleeping at night or away during the day, and keep temperatures moderate at all times. Setting your thermostat just 2 degrees lower in winter and higher in summer could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Close up holes in your home. Cuddle up with a blanket if you are cold, or try using cooling packs when it’s blazing hot outside.
Seal in cracks in your home, and make sure there are no gaps in windows and doors. This way, you can ensure that the heat stays inside your house regardless of the season. You can also buy a programmable thermostat, which adjusts the temperature each day, and reduces energy consumption by 20-30 percent.
6.- Reduce and Reuse BEFORE you Recycle
We have all been taught the three R’s- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. However, consider focusing more on the first two steps before the third.
Start with your morning ritual. Plastic toothbrushes are a huge contributor to waste. Consider switching to biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes and help reduce the more than 20,000 tonnes of plastic brushes trashed every year.
Recycle your clothes. The average American throws away about 80 pounds of clothing a year. Not only is fast fashion wasteful, but the environmental cost of manufacturing and distributing new clothes is devastating. Look for retailers that offer recycling programs. Some of them will actually purchase, refurbish, and resell your gently worn garments. Another great tip is to have a clothing swap with friends every six months, that way your wardrobe gets a refresh without having to throw out clothing or spend money. After you are finished, donate the remainder of the clothes to your local shelter.
These can be very small steps, if you see a place that uses Styrofoam or plastic, skip that place. Stop buying disposable plastic cleaning bottles. Most of your house can be cleaned with everyday items and it works just as well as any store-bought product.
Recycling emerged as a virtue before we knew we had a climate problem, but we know now that transporting and processing materials for recycling is carbon-intensive. Recycling still uses less energy than making new products, but reducing and reusing are even cleaner so try your best to follow the first 2 steps before the third.
Check out these cool ways to reuse everyday household items!
7.- Plant a Tree
If you have the means to plant a tree, start digging. During photosynthesis, trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. They are an integral part of the natural atmospheric exchange cycle here on Earth, but there are too few of them to fully counter the increases in carbon dioxide caused by automobile traffic, manufacturing, and other human activities. Help mitigate climate change: a single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.
Trees clean the air. Trees improve air quality by absorbing toxic chemicals from the atmosphere. Pollutant gases and odors such as ammonia, ozone, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide are all absorbed by the leaves of trees. Trees also filter particulates from the air, thus making them clean and free of toxic materials.
Trees protect biodiversity. About 80% of all species of plants and animals’ survival depend on Trees. An increasing number of animal and plant species are disappearing from the face of the earth, and quite a number are on the verge of extinction. The oak and sycamore, for example, provide excellent urban habitat for squirrels, bees, birds, and possums. In order to protect the planet’s biodiversity, we need to plant a tree today.
Trees are climate regulators. Trees are otherwise termed as the world’s natural fans. They fan our environment and surrounding will a cool breeze that helps to regulate global temperatures. They also act as insulators by absorbing and reflecting away some of the sun’s heat thereby reducing the heat and scorching effect of solar radiation. Planting a tree today is therefore essential to ensuring we have sustainable environmental temperatures.
8.- Green Your Commute
In Canada, transportation accounts for 24 percent of climate-polluting emissions, a close second to the oil and gas industry. The many ways to reduce your transportation emissions will also make you healthier, happier, and save you a few bucks. Here are some great options to make your route a little bit greener:
- Take public transit
- Ride a bike
- Switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle
- Fly less
In any economy, especially with fluctuating gas prices, paying for gas is not something that most people love. It can get expensive real fast, so riding a bike even once a week can save quite a bit of money over time additionally to combating climate change.
Being in a car may get you to your destination more quickly, but your body is still idly sitting there, despite your speed of 45 mph. Especially with the obesity epidemic in the United States, getting enough exercise is more important now than ever. By biking, you not only burn calories and strengthen the muscles in your legs, but you also lower your blood pressure and risk of cancer, diabetes, and other diseases over time.
Studies have shown that walking or biking on a regular basis can reduce the effects of depression and anxiety disorders. Cycling can also improve your brain’s cognition, brain function, and general mental performance.
9.- Go Green with Power
Check with your electricity supplier if you can choose a renewable source of energy for your home. Installing solar panels in your home is also a great alternative. Solar panels typically go on your roof, although you can also install them in your yard. Some companies now even offer the option of leasing solar panels if you do not own your house. Solar water heaters are so much cheaper than using gas or electricity to heat your water and are easier to install than solar panels.
Some utility companies offer the option to switch to renewable energy in North America. You simply need to call your energy company and inquire or do a quick search of other possible providers in the area. You might be surprised at how easy the switch is and you don’t have to feel as guilty for leaving a light on by accident!
From the outside, choosing clean energy for your home can seem intimidating, but spend five minutes online and you’ll see that chances are, there’s a solution perfect for your needs.
10.- Speak up. Stand up. Get involved!
When Greta Thunberg caught the attention of the cameras with her cry for adults to “wake up and act like the house is burning”, people took to the streets. Greta’s movement allowed new voices to come into the picture, and she created agency among those in power positions.
It might feel like we are powerless in this world, we have no control over our own futures. But just isn’t true, yes you might be a drop in the water. One drop can’t do much on its own, but when billions of drops formulate, you get a flood.
Just by making these small actions, you are already doing your part fighting climate change but if you want to do more, there are options.
Environmental rights have been around for more than 40 years, with more than 150 countries now recognizing them in law. For too long we have accepted that our governments had our best interests at heart but we now know this not to be true. Never forget that our government is supposed to work for the people, not the other way around. Corporate greed has completely taken over our lives, the elite gets wealthier while others suffer and have their basic fundamental rights taken away.
Environmental rights are fundamental human rights!
If a 15-year-old girl can inspire an entire global movement within a year, there is no reason you can’t affect change in the same way. It’s time to take matters into our own hands.