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Protecting the environment and slowing climate change is a more pressing issue than ever before; studies have shown that climate change exceeding an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius before the end of the century could have devastating impacts upon humanity, as well as the rest of the natural world. If we don’t take action to slow climate change, we will already have hit this limit by the year 2040!Though government regulations are certainly needed to limit industrial impacts on the environment, we can all take action on an individual level, too.Do you want future generations to grow up in a clean, safe, and comfortable world? Start taking these steps to slow climate change today!
Reconsider Your Transportation Methods
A vast majority of the miles travelled on roads each day are the result of individuals commuting to and from work. Commuting, which often involves just one person in a vehicle, is particularly bad for the environment! If possible, try carpooling to work with some of your coworkers. If your place of work is nearby, consider using public transportation, biking, or walking. If you work a job that is suitable for telecommuting, talk to your employer about working from home once a week.
If you drive frequently, consider the ways in which you can lessen your impact on the environment. Combine errands into one trip, or run errands with a friend. Purchase an electric car or opt for one with better mileage. Drive in a calm and responsible manner; aggressive driving, speeding, and frequent acceleration and braking all burn more fuel. If you’re parked for longer than 10 seconds, switch your engine off instead of idling.
Check to ensure that your tires are correctly inflated, too. Having properly-inflated tires can improve gas mileage by an average of 0.6%, ultimately reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. Be sure your gas cap isn’t loose or damaged, either. Gas escaping from your tank could be harming the environment and wasting your money! Turn the cap until it clicks a few times; if you’ve got an older vehicle with many miles on it, consider getting a new cap, too.
Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient
Taking small steps to reduce your energy consumption within your own home can save you money while reducing the impact you have on the environment. Switch to more energy-efficient light bulbs, such as LEDs, and unplug electronics when they’re not in use, including computers, televisions, and speakers. If you own a home, consider installing solar panels. Solar power is becoming increasingly more affordable and is far cleaner than most energy sources.
Hang-dry your clothes instead of using a dryer, and wash loads of laundry on “cold” or “warm” settings under 40°C; roughly 75% of the emissions produced by washing laundry are a result of heating the water itself! Studies have shown that washing clothing at lower temperatures is actually just as effective as washing with hot water.When purchasing new appliances, opt for energy-efficient devices. Insulate your home and program your thermostat correctly, too; simply running your thermostat at a degree or two lower in the winter, for instance, can save you money while reducing your carbon footprint.
If you’d like to ensure that your home is as energy-efficient as possible, consider performing an “energy audit” of your own home or scheduling an appointment with a professional energy auditor. Audits are generally affordable and have the potential to drastically reduce your monthly energy bill. By becoming more aware of the ways in which you’re wasting energy, you can protect your wallet and the environment!
Eat for the Environment
The food we eat, and the ways in which we shop for our groceries, can have a powerful impact on our overall carbon footprint. Livestock, particularly cattle, is one of the biggest sources of atmospheric contamination. Rising demand for beef, for instance, has led to the expansion of cattle ranching in South America, which is now the primary cause of deforestation in the Amazon. Consider reducing your weekly consumption of meat, instead opting for plant-based proteins like nuts and legumes.
Foods that are imported, processed, and packaged also contribute to greater emissions and waste. Instead, opt for locally-grown produce whenever possible. Eat seasonal foods and support local farmers. If you have the space for it, start your own garden, or contribute to a community garden or urban farm! When possible, choose products with less packaging, and bring your own reusable bags to transport your groceries. Strive to consume less, buying only the food you need, and consider composting your food scraps, rather than throwing them in the trash. Making even a few of these changes can significantly reduce the impact your diet has on the environment.
Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle
Many of us love purchasing affordable clothing from “fast fashion” brands. Cheap, mass-produced clothing, however, has led to a dramatic increase in clothing consumption. Estimates show that we’re now purchasing 60% more clothing than we did 20 years ago! Instead of purchasing poorly-made discount items, opt for higher-quality articles of clothing. Though ethically-made garments derived from sustainable sources are almost always more expensive, they generally last longer, too. Knowing that your purchases are keeping the environment clean and aren’t contributing to labor abuse can also give you peace of mind.
In regards to general consumption, ask yourself whether or not you really need to be purchasing so much. Do you actually need the latest technological gadgets or more home decor? Buy less, and, when possible, consider purchasing items second-hand. When getting rid of old items, see what you can donate, and what can be recycled, too. Simply recycling half of your home waste may help you reduce your CO2 output by over 700 kilos each year!
Perhaps the best way to reduce your carbon output is to live more simply. Spending time with your family, getting outside in nature, and volunteering are all great ways to enjoy life without getting caught up in the cycle of buying and consuming. Living life, rather than simply consuming resources, is practically guaranteed to clean up your inner “environment” too, making you feel better both mentally and physically.
Be Vocal & Vote
Perhaps the biggest challenge regarding climate change is our silence regarding the issue. Keep the topic relevant by discussing it with your friends and sharing information on social media. Most importantly, vote for policies and officials who are actively working to protect the environment and fight the effects of climate change! Politicians like Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro have encouraged deforestation and believe that the resources of the Amazon are worth profiting from; as a result, the Amazonian rainforest is now burning at an unprecedented rate, impacting not only the ecology of Brazil, but the health of the entire planet.Actively research what positions your local and national politicians take regarding climate change and the environment. Write letters and demand that politicians promote renewable energy, support public transportation, encourage recycling, and more. Take action yourself, and encourage others to do the same!
Many of us haven’t taken action regarding climate change because the problem feels insurmountable. This, however, simply isn’t true! If all of us commit to living more environmentally-friendly lives, we can slow the rate of climate change, protecting our planet for future generations. You don’t have to radically transform your life overnight; simply start by making small changes. If enough of us commit to making these changes, we just might be able to save the world!
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