We can all play a role in combating climate change. While we need transformative change to limit warming below 2 degrees celsius, every action matters. Taking personal steps to limit your carbon footprint impacts carbon emissions and gives individuals a sense of agency. Below are a few ways to take climate change action in your own life.
Save energy at home
The majority of our energy is powered by coal, oil and gas. You can lower your household emissions by turning down the heat or air conditioning. Or by switching your bulbs with LED light bulbs, replacing old appliances with energy-efficient ones and hanging things out to dry instead of using the drying machine. Changing a light bulb can make a big difference – replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year!
Check out OhmConnect, a company that will pay you to save energy. OhmConnect pays you to use less energy during peak energy times, which are typically weekday evenings. By powering down your devices for an hour or so, you can earn Watts that you can withdraw for cash, enter to win prizes or use to score smart home tech in PhmConnect’s Rewards Marketplace.
Walk, bike or take public transit.
If you have the ability, hop on your bike instead of driving. You’ll save one pound of carbon dioxide for every mile you don’t drive! Walking or riding your bike can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help your health and fitness. Two birds, one stone! For longer travel, consider taking a bus or train. Carpool when possible!
Eat more vegetables.
Our mothers always told us to eat our vegetables. Now, you have another reason to add more greens to your diet. Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and less meat and dairy can significantly lower your environmental impact. Producing plant-based foods generally emits fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires less energy, land and water.
Reuse, repair and recycle.
All of the items we buy produce carbon emissions in their life cycle. You can lower emissions by buying less, purchasing second-hand, repairing what you can, and recycling. For example, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by recycling half of your household waste. Plus, you save money shopping at thrift stores and can find some seriously great threads.
Use less hot water.
Heating water takes a lot of energy. Try to use less hot water by taking shorter and cooler showers and washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water (more than 500 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year).
Adjust your thermostat.
This is a surprising fact. Moving your thermostat down just 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer saves roughly 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
Industrial agriculture produces roughly 25 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Transporting food from the farm to the supermarket adds another layer of emissions. So instead, try to buy produce from your local farming community. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a wonderful way to go about this. CSA boxes are produce boxes that you buy directly from the farmer each week or month. You can find CSA farmers in your area here. With each box, you support the local economy, enjoy super fresh produce and build a relationship with the farmer who grows the food.
If there aren’t any CSA near you, try to find a local farmer’s market. You may be surprised to find that the prices for fruits and vegetables aren’t much different from what you’d pay in the store.
Change your home’s source of energy.
Our homes typically run on fossil fuels like gas and coal. This is changing as more renewable energy comes onto the market. Ask your utility provider if you can switch to renewable energy sources. If possible, you could also install solar panels on your home. On average, U.S. customers save about $1,500 a year by going solar – $37,500 over the course of 25 years.
Cut back on flying.
Flying is an energy-intensive process dependent on fossil fuels that significantly contributes to climate change. The total carbon impact of a single flight is so high that avoiding just one trip can be equivalent to going (gasoline) car-free for a year. While many sectors have begun reducing their emissions, aviation’s has grown. Carbon emissions from the airline industry grew by 75 percent from 1990 to 2012. And it is only expected to continue to rise.
So think twice about grabbing that great flight deal for a weekend getaway. If possible, take a car, train or bus instead. Train rides are also enjoyable and tend to take you through scenic areas!
Switch to electric vehicles.
If you plan on buying a car, consider going electric. Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly more affordable with various styles and amenities. Even if they still run on electricity produced by fossil fuels, they create less air pollution and cause significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than diesel and gas vehicles.
Get involved locally with an issue that matters to you. Climate change is complicated with many interconnected subcomponents; some issues may hit home more than others, making them the perfect problem to explore. Join an environmental advocacy group as getting involved locally is the fastest and most effective way to make a difference. Talk to your friends, family and colleagues about climate change. People are more likely to listen to those that they trust and respect. Appeal to local and international leaders. Let your voice be heard. We can’t forget that all great social movements were started by like-minded individuals with passion and hope.