“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead
Get Fluent In Climate Change
Education is the foundation for progress and it starts with bringing awareness to the unprecedented threat it poses to our planet. The time is now when it comes to educating the future generations that will be the stewards of our planet. Start teaching our children about climate change and living a green lifestyle at both school and home. Leading by example will come naturally. Knowledge is a source of empowerment that can lead to action.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Take a closer look at your own impact on the planet using this climate footprint calculator. When it comes to the fight against global warming, action at the federal and state levels are critical for effecting major change. But that doesn’t mean smaller actions that YOU can take every day in your own life aren’t valuable in this fight. Mitigating our greenhouse gas emissions entails the reduction and conservation of oil, gas, and coal, the fossil fuels used in transportation, heating and cooling, agriculture, and electricity generation. Sounds like a lot, we know. But don't get overwhelmed! We are going to help you break it down.
Become MORE energy efficient
Adopt energy saving habits like turning off the lights, making sure your TV, computer, and cable boxes are unplugged or off when you are not actively using them, as they are still drawing electricity even when they are not in actual use. Another tip is to ditch your dryer (the largest energy user in the home) and hang clothes to air dry outside.
When buying products for your home, keep an eye out for the EPA’s ENERGY STAR label. These products range from appliances to lighting to electronic devices, all of which are energy efficient. Not only will these products help you to save money on your energy bills, but you can also reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by about 130,000 pounds. Insulating your home is also a great way to make you and your family more energy efficient, as heating and air conditioning is a major energy user.
Make every drop count
Using water more efficiently is a critical way to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. This means simple water saving actions like turning the water off when you brush your teeth, repairing all leaks, and only running your dishwasher when its full. You should also look for WaterSense labels on products as they are water-efficient. If you replace your shower head with a WaterSense-labeled product, you can save 4 gallons of water each time you take a shower! Another suggestion is to only use garden plants that are well suited to your environment, and require as little water as possible. In addition, mitigate climate change by planting trees. Trees are an integral piece to the natural atmosphere exchange cycle on Earth, but there are too few of them to fully counter the increases in carbon dioxide caused by human activities. A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime. Did you know? Waiakea plants 10 trees along with Eden Projects when you purchase an apparel item.
Streamline Your Fuel Use
Purchase a fuel-efficient, clean vehicle. This will lower your fuel economy and thereby your vehicle emissions. But regardless of what kind of car you drive, you can improve your fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding rapid acceleration, decreasing excessive breaking, and reducing your time spent idling to under 30 seconds. Maintaining your ride with regular tune-ups and properly inflated tires can save gas as well. You can also simply give your car a break and use public transportation, carpool, or biking.
Go green for your power! This environmentally friendly form of electricity is generated using renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun. While you can modify your home to generate green power, it is also possible to buy green power. If you are able to choose your own energy supplier, pick one that uses renewable power resources like solar, wind, low-impact hydroelectric, or geothermal.
The biggest impacts on our planet will be and will come from large-scale policy changes and solutions that are influenced by who is in office. President Trumps and the Republican led Congress are poised to wipe out America’s crucial environmental safeguards, derailing the fight against climate change and pushing us towards further climate catastrophe. President Trump is also threatening to withdraw the US from the historic Paris Climate Agreement. So, start learning about the climate issues at the local and global level so you can get loud with your opinions! Voice your concerns via social media to your friends and family, talk about climate change with your peers, sign petitions, attend rallies, and write to your elected officials. Most importantly, vote for candidates who advocate for progressive climate-related legislation and policy improvements.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
The three R’s are all about managing waste. Together, they can help prevent pollution caused by having to harvest new materials for new product, save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emission, and decrease the amount of waste that will be sent to landfills and incinerators.
Reducing the amount of waste you produce is the best way to help the environment. One way to reduce is by purchasing high-quality, long-lasting products. Yes, you will have to shell out more money right now, but you will be happier down the line when you don’t have to replace these items frequently.
Reduce food waste. Plan out your meals for the week so you avoid overbuying at the market, shop in your fridge first to make sure you don’t already have the item, educate yourself on the difference between the ‘sell-by,’ ‘use-by,’ and ‘best-by’ expiration dates, and get leftover food from eating out to go. You can then enjoy it a second time at home or leave it on top of a trashcan for a homeless person. Lastly, stop receiving mailings that use up tons of paper by writing to the following address and requesting that they take your name off their distribution list: Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service P.O. Box 9008 Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008
Reusing products makes economic and environmental sense but takes creativity. For example, reuse products for the same purpose (think plastic and paper bags), give unwanted items a second life by donating them, use reusable containers, take canvas bags to the mall or market with you, use old cans and shoe boxes for art projects, and write on both sides of a piece of paper.
Many of the things we use everyday like paper bags and plastic are made of materials that can be recycled in a process that creates new products out of the materials of the old ones. Aim to purchase products made from recycled material by looking for the recycling symbol. Read this article on rPET plastic here. Be sure to keep your electronics out of the trash! Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes to let them go, as E-waste contains toxins contributing to our environmental problem.
Photo: Kalen Emsley