Climate change is a reality that can no longer be ignored, with data from NOAA and NASA showing that July 2016 was the hottest month ever recorded, making it the 15th straight month of record-breaking temperatures. But, while these findings are pretty scary, even those of us who care deeply and would like to make a difference are often unsure about what we can or should be doing to stop climate change.
If this sounds familiar and you’d like to do your part to conserve our planet, here are five practical things you can start doing to reduce your carbon footprint.
1. Start Conserving Energy
If you aren’t using a utility company that generates at least part of its power from renewable energy sources like wind and the sun yet, then switching it should be your first step. But there are also plenty of ways to reduce your energy consumption at home.
For instance, cold washing your laundry, using laptops instead of desktops, not leaving appliances on standby, and replacing incandescent light bulbs can save a significant amount of energy each year. If you’re looking for other practical ideas, this infographic shows just how much each appliance uses per month and what sort of changes you can make to conserve energy.
2. Don’t Buy Bottled Water and Keep Packaging to A Minimum
Although you may not have the power to force companies to use eco-friendly packaging, you can choose not to buy products that contribute to global warming. Bottled water is big offender when it comes to unsustainable and harmful practices.
According to estimation from the Pacific Institute, the production of bottled water for American consumption requires 17 million barrels of oil, and that’s not including the energy used in transport. Plastic bottles are also a big source of pollution, taking more 1000 years to bio-degrade and producing toxic fumes if burned.
So, if you’d rather not drink water straight from the tap, invest in a good water filter and buy some stainless steel water bottles to carry with you when you’re out. You should also carry your own reusable shopping bags and keep packaging to a minimum by shopping at farmers markets and buying in bulk.
3. Charge Your Gadgets with Solar Energy
Most of us have become reliant on smartphones to keep us informed and entertained, but this increase in smartphone use is now contributing to the production of greenhouse gasses. According to one study, the greenhouse gases from smartphone charging will be comparable to the yearly emissions of 1.1 million cars by 2019. One way to make sure your smartphone addiction isn’t harming the planet is to switch to solar energy.
Of course, fitting an entire home with solar panels is an expensive investment and may not be an option, but most portable solar battery chargers are fairly affordable. If you’re not sure what options you have, this infographic provides some examples of solar gadgets you can use to support your smartphone habit.
4. Choose More Sustainable Sources of Protein
Research shows that livestock production is a big contributor to climate change, and according to EPA data, land use such as agriculture contributes to about 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
If you don’t want to stop eating meat altogether, you can still cut down on the amount of meat in your diet by having ‘meat-free’ days and adding more sustainable protein sources to your diet, such as eggs, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Switching from red meat like beef and lamb to white meat like chicken is also better for the environment, not to mention healthier.
5. Recycle and Buy Second-hand
By recycling waste as well as used clothes, furniture, and electronics, you can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills each year. Buying second-hand helps for the same reason, and your local thrift stores or websites like eBay are great places to find used books, clothing, and more.
Also, before you upgrade to the latest iPhone or other gadget you’ve been lusting after, ask yourself how it will enhance your life. If you can’t think of any real reason you need it other than “it’s new and shiny” you should probably fight the urge to upgrade.
Finally, remember that the more people who get on board and start doing their part the better, so take the time to inform yourself about climate change and help raise awareness by talking to your friends, family and colleagues about the simple but important lifestyle changes we should all be making.
Featured photo credit: Photo by Karsten Würth via unsplash.com