Climate change is an overwhelming topic that, for many, feels far-off, as if its effects won’t impact our daily lives. While living in quiet suburbia, bustling cities, or rural places, it’s easy to get caught up in our days’ ins and outs and feel removed from a crisis happening elsewhere or that we should be doing something about it. However, the truth is that climate change is already affecting quiet suburbia, bustling cities, and rural places. We see that in wildfires that wreak havoc on neighborhoods, rising seas that impact coastal metropolises, and stronger storms that know no boundaries. There are also effects that ripple into issues of immigration, human health, economy, and national security.
Consider this: Only 10-15% of Americans deny climate science. The other 85-90% of us? We can do something about this! Living a more earth conscious lifestyle is important to begin shifting the narrative of climate action. For example, access to computers and smart phones were once ideas that seemed far-fetched or unrealistic. Today, over 3.8 billion people have access to the internet and life without smart phones seems foreign. While using a stainless steel straw won’t solve the problem of climate change, it’s a step in demanding cleaner solutions and decreasing consumption of “dirty” consumer goods. With reduced demand for these goods, we use less fossil fuels and energy to produce and transport them, which do directly contribute to climate change.
To begin implementing more earth conscious habits into your lifestyle, use the list below to get started.
On the Go
Carry these items with you and you’ll reduce what goes into landfills and oceans by avoiding single-use plastics.
- Reusable canvas bag for supermarkets, stores, and shopping malls; they’re great for carrying produce in too!
- Reusable coffee mug and water bottle – some coffeeshops will give you a discount for bringing your own mug!
- Reusable silverware
- Reusable straw
- Tupperware – this might feel awkward at first, but bringing your own tupperware to eat at a restaurant will save you from bringing plastic home that you’ll have to throw out later
**Don’t know where to purchase some of these? Head over to Happy Earth Apparel and get yourself some eco-friendly gear with my 15% off discount code SavingTreesNSeas. Bonus: This company donates 50% (yea, fifty!) of the proceeds to conservation projects.
In Your Home
- Wash clothes on cold, it takes less energy (less fossil fuel) than warming water to the hot setting
- Wax instead of shave! This saves money on razor cartridges and decrease plastic consumption. Afraid of wax? Use electric trimmers and razors in place of plastic.
- Give a crap when you take a crap. The water, trees, and energy that go into producing toilet paper and paper towels are quite intensive, so purchase from Who Gives a Crap which is made from 100% recycled TP.
- Use a menstrual cup. These puppies are gaining popularity and will save you oodles of money in the long run over pads or tampons. Check out a full pros-cons list of the product.
- Purchase secondhand goods. They’re cheaper, in good condition, and not contributing to more junk that will later clog landfills. Check out ThredUp, Poshmark, or one of your local consignment shops!
- Get a bamboo toothbrush. This is a tiny, easy step to eliminate plastic from your lifestyle.
- Use soap and shampoo bars and other package-free goods to decrease plastic consumption.
- Purchase sustainable wood products for your home. Illegal deforestation is a huge problem worldwide. Ask where your wood products are from before buying. If it can’t be traced to a legal source, it might be in violation of US Federal Law.
- Get a hybrid or electric vehicle next time you’re in the market for a car.
- Get an HFC free refrigerator for your home. HFCs are greenhouse gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and aerosols. They’re more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide, so upgrade to better alternatives when you’re able.
- Install solar panels outside your home. Some states offer subsidies for homes that do this.
- Start composting! Whether you live in a city, suburbia, or the countryside there are ways to compost your old food scraps and organic matter.
As I mentioned earlier, this list is non-exhaustive. There are a lot of other actions you can take. For example, tomorrow try making note of all the plastic things you come into contact with. Can any of those be recycled or replaced by a better alternative?
Food and Drink
- Eat less meat or none at all. Bacon, pork roll, cheeseburgers—my mouth is watering. But I haven’t touched that stuff in nearly two years. That’s because we can significantly reduce our individual carbon footprints by eliminating meat from our diets. The amount of resources and energy needed to produce that burger is astronomical in comparison to a bean burger. As a meat-lover, trust me when I say there are plenty of awesome substitutions out there. Here’s a helpful guide as you make your transition.
- Drink coffee! But be aware of where your coffee is coming from. Look for brands that are certified as good for the planet. I wrote an article about certifications to make it easy for you.
- Eat sustainable seafood. Not ready to go full vegetarian or vegan? Then choose a sustainable protein rich in omega 3s and good for brain health! Certified sustainable seafood of the Marine Stewardship Council (wild-caught) or Aquaculture Stewardship Council (farmed) are you best choices because they’re globally recognized as the gold standard in seafood sustainability. You may have heard of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch app; this app provides recommendations on what kinds of fish to eat but cannot claim sustainability.
- Be aware of what you’re eating. Palm oil, used in food to cosmetics, is a commodity in which multinational corporations around the globe have ousted indigenous people from their land and decimated forests home to endangered animals. Though palm oil is hard to avoid, look at the ingredients lists of your grocery store selections. Not all crackers have it, natural nut butters don’t, and some cosmetic lines are moving away from using it.
- Use a bike, carpool, or mass transit to decrease fossil fuel use.
- What’s your employer’s sustainability plan? Does it recycle? Does it purchase eco-friendly material for that office party? Does it offer work from home options to save on fossil fuel use? Get up to speed on what your employer is doing. If it’s not doing enough, ask why and see if you can encourage it to do more.
- Vote. Vote for candidates who include climate change in their topline agenda.
- Donate to organizations that lobby on behalf of climate action.
- Support businesses that are evolving and adapting to clean energy (solar, wind, etc) and those with the health of our planet in mind.
- Volunteer with organizations working to keep our natural places clean.
- Think differently. Before making a purchase or eating a meal, ask yourself if there’s a better way to achieve the same outcome.
We all wield a lot of power, from choosing where to spend our money to the influence we hold in our jobs, families, and friend circles. When being sustainable/climate-friendly/earth conscious – whatever you want to call it! – becomes “cool” or second-nature, more people will latch on. So let’s do this. Let’s make a healthier planet. Every effort counts.
A note about climate change
Climate change is not weather. Weather is what happens every day, whereas climate change is the changing trends over decades, which exhibit in weather events that have been oscillating in increasingly Day After Tomorrow fashion. It’s happening because of an increase in fossil fuel use, which is carbon pollution. Fossil fuels are used for a lot of things: to produce and transport goods like the clothes you’re wearing, the couch you’re sitting on, the food you’re eating. By reducing the amount of fossil fuels we each use in our daily lives and by choosing products and companies that avert away from fossil fuels, we can make a huge difference!