“I don’t see how anything I do can make a difference. Climate change is one of the most terrifying events that may happen in my lifetime.”
Should you just give up? No! You can make a difference with every choice you take. Each climate-neutral step you take may seem small, but when 7 billion people start living sustainably, the solutions multiply faster than any one person or group of people can imagine.
Here’s a rundown on what even the most indifferent and lazy people can do to reduce harmful environmental impacts and save the earth. The climate-neutral solutions come from all over the world through the United Nations—our greatest hope for installing and retaining sustainable lifestyles for all the peoples of this blue planet.
For the real couch potatoes
- Save electricity. Plug household appliances into a power strip. Then you can turn all of them them off completely with one switch when you stop using them. Especially your computer gear.
- Turn off the lights. Turn off the lights. Turn off the lights.
- Pass on paper bank statements and bills. Instead, pay online or by phone. Save paper, save forests.
- Don’t waste print. See something online you need to remember? Save it digitally.
- Shop selectively. Buy from companies that follow sustainable or climate-neutral practices and do not harm the environment. Ignore advertising tricks.
- Share! Don’t just “like” on social media. When you see interesting posts about climate change, pass them on to friends and people in your networks.
- Speak up! Require your elected politicians, candidates, and business leaders to take energy-saving, nonpolluting initiatives.
SUPER SOFA LOVER’S HINT (see chart above): Did you know that you can now offset personal carbon emissions that you can’t reduce? Go to the Climate Neutral Now website, calculate your personal or family carbon footprint, and acquire climate credits that can make up for (almost) all your individual climate sins!
Things you can do at home
- Eat less meat, poultry, and fish. It uses up many times the resources to provide meat than to produce plants.
- If you don’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad, freeze fresh produce and leftovers. You can also do this with takeout or delivered food. You’ll save food and money.
- Take shorter showers (5-10 minutes). Bathing in a tub requires gallons more water.
- When washing clothes, make sure to do a full load.
- Air dry. Let your hair and clothes dry naturally instead of running a machine.
- Don’t rinse before you run the dishwasher if you don’t need to.
- Compost food scraps to recycle their nutrients and reduce their overall climate impacts.
- Buy minimally packaged goods.
- Use natural matches. They require no petroleum, unlike plastic gas-filled lighters.
- Do not preheat your oven unless you need a precise baking temperature. Start heating the food when you turn on the oven.
- Recycle paper, plastic, glass, and aluminium to slow landfill growth.
- Adjust your thermostat: lower in winter, higher in summer.
- Use fuel-saving home energy management and smartphone apps.
- Plug air leaks in windows and doors to increase energy efficiency.
- Get a rug. Carpets and rugs keep your house warm and your thermostat low.
- Choose a new, climate-neutral brand of disposable diapers for babies, or use washable cloth ones.
- Shovel snow manually. Skip the noise and polluting exhaust from the snowblower and get some exercise—but not too strenuously.
- Take advantage of natural shade and sunlight to balance home temperatures. Consider this when planting trees.
- If you have the option, install solar panels on your house, use community solar, or choose other clean power solutions. This will also reduce your electric bills!
Things you can do in the community
- Use a refillable water bottle and/or coffee cup to cut down on waste and save money.
- Walk, bike, or take public transportation. Cars really only make sense for groups over one or two people.
- Maintain your car well for less toxic exhaust.
- Kill the engine if you will have to stop the car for more than 30 seconds; then restart when it’s time to go.
- Vaccinate yourself and your family. Immunizing from disease safeguards the entire population.
- Shop local. Support neighborhood businesses to keep local people employed and cut down on polluting truck traffic from farm to table.
- Keep a fruit and vegetable patch at home or in a community garden.
- Bring your own bag when you shop. Pass on the plastic.
- Take fewer napkins with your takeout—just what you need.
- Shop smart. Plan meals, make shopping lists, and avoid impulse buying. Don’t buy more food than you need. Perishable items may be less expensive per ounce, but they will cost more if some of them end up in the garbage.
- Use even “funny fruit”—perfectly good produce that would otherwise go in the trash because of imperfect size, shape, or color.
- Shop for only sustainable (ocean-friendly) seafood. You can use this app for up-to-date information.
- When ordering seafood at a restaurant, always ask if they serve sustainable varieties.
- Donate used clothes, books, and furniture to local charities.
- Shop vintage. Brand-new isn’t always best, and second-hand shops are fun.
- Support climate-neutral utility innovations. Invest green.
MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL (especially in an election year): Take advantage of your democracy and vote to elect sane, sustainability-minded leaders, locally and nationally. Hold them responsible for what they do.
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