The global challenge to fight climate change may seem like a daunting task – one that leaves you wondering how you can have any meaningful impact. It’s true you won’t be able to tackle the whole problem alone, but you can make a difference.
The trick is breaking down the enormity of climate change and how you go about your everyday routine, and seeing what you can do at a local level to makes changes. Here are 10 ways you can do your part to help leave our planet a better place.
1. Take a Look at Your Transportation
America’s CO2 emissions run about four times the global average at 21 tons. You can help curb the creation of these heat-trapping gasses by making smarter, greener choices for your method of transportation. Look for a vehicle with a high fuel economy if you need personal transportation. Better yet, consider biking or utilize public transportation. All of these will have some important impact on CO2 emission reduction.
2. Eat Less Red Meat
You read that right. Lowering your meat intake, especially beef, can also help reduce greenhouse gasses. In fact, when you take into consideration that 14 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to livestock, it puts your food choices in perspective. It’s not that difficult to have beef or pork a couple of times a week, instead of nearly every day. It’ll be a healthy choice both for you and the planet.
3. Make Sure Your Home Is Energy-Efficient
This can be as simple as changing five light bulbs with ENERGY-star qualifications. Another great way to make sure you aren’t wasting energy is to make sure your home is airtight. Fixing any leaks that are present in your home can help you use less energy and save you money. Most energy companies even offer free home energy audits, so making these adjustments are not difficult.
4. Switch Out Your Appliances for Greener Options
New appliances like a refrigerator or air conditioner are nearly twice as efficient as models that are even only five years old. It’s true that this option could be a little pricey, but when you consider the savings on your energy bill, a new fridge can pay for itself in just three years.
5. Figure Out Where Your Big Energy Uses Are
Use an electricity monitor to see where your biggest energy users are in your household. By understanding what eats up the most watts in your home, you can then use that information to reduce their use from time to time. You’ll lower your electricity bill and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
6. Green up Your House to Clean the Air
Invest in air-filtering houseplants, like aloe vera, to naturally filter CO2 out of the air in your home. They will not only give you better air to breathe, but they will also reduce your personal carbon footprint, all the while making your home that much more beautiful.
7. Use Cold Water to Clean Your Clothes
The detergent will clean them just the same in cold water, and you’ll save money and energy by choosing not to heat the water. In fact, the hot water cycle uses five times more energy than a cold water wash/rinse cycle. Just by switching to cold water, you’ll save close to $100 annually, and have an emissions savings of 1,281 pounds.
8. Simply Buy Less
Consumerism, in general, is not a culture that is friendly to more sustainable options. It requires you to personally become conscious of how you buy and use items in your home. Look for goods, products and services that have a longer lifespan or can be repaired, reused or recycled. It might take you some time to get the hang of it, but even these small changes from plastic to a reusable shopping bag will add up over time.
9. Become an Advocate for Combating Climate Change
It’s important to remember that you cannot fix this problem all by yourself. You need to share the small steps and changes you are making with those around you as well. Just imagine the impact we could have on global greenhouse gas emissions if every single American reduced their carbon footprint by as little as 20 percent. The effect would be exponential without great effort on our part.
10. Make Sure Public Officials Know This Is an Important Issue
Finally, it is extremely important to share your concerns with elected officials and policymakers at your state and local level. If they don’t know climate change is a major concern for you, then there is no way they can take the necessary steps to help change policy and laws that can have a positive impact on emission reduction.
Don’t be intimidated by the size of the problem. We can all do our part. It simply starts with a decision to be a better inhabitant of this planet.
Image credit: Brandon Doran, courtesy Flickr