Creating change as an individual:
With much of the scientific community critical of the targets set by the Paris accord and feel they aren’t enough to keep us all from facing a future full of unpredictable, extreme weather and the chaos and violence that will result from a global lack of necessary resources. Change is needed at scale, but individual actions count. Now might be the time to re-evaluate your day to day life and see if there’s something you can do to help.
Here are some ideas. You don’t have to do everything, just do something:
Get involved in politics:
Vote for politicians and policies that are out for the good of the planet and have credible scientific backing. Attend town hall events and suggest changes - A lot of town hall meetings and local elections have turnout in the low hundreds, and votes pass or fail by single digits. You can just show up and have a big impact on what’s going on in your town. Are new building projects happening? Has there been environmental impact study? Should the new athletic field be grass or synthetic turf?
Switch to renewable energy if possible:
For those of us who can’t install solar panels a lot of utilities now allow you to specify where your power comes from. Join organizations like the Sierra Club that will give you a heads up on those opportunities, or go straight to our own Department of Energy.
Buy less from overseas/Think about what you buy:
We should all be able to see eye to eye on buying American when we can. In addition to keeping your money in the American economy you’ll be reducing the carbon footprint of most products you buy by reducing the fuel needed to deliver that product to you, reducing shipping traffic, etc. - international shippings have no carbon emissions standards, and produce as much carbon as a nation.
Eat fewer animal products:
Most of us really like meat, I know I do. Still, meat production is responsible for a huge percentage of the harmful emissions responsible for climate change, and that’s the just one problem. You don’t have to stop eating meat altogether - just cut your intake. If you’re focused on getting fit there are tons of meal replacement supplements with no animal products in them, and if you’ve never had Riblets you’re missing out. At restaurants where there are no good options don’t feel too guilty getting what you want, but when you’re just grabbing a quick meal at work or in the morning think about ways to avoid meat. Try drinking almond milk with your cereal, or getting some vegetarian chili or curry that you can heat quickly.
Give money or time to groups who support sustainability:
Groups pushing for policy change need help. Going door to door isn’t for everybody but it’s a good way to meet people in your neighborhood, if you’re getting more involved in local politics it’s also a good way to find people who might help you out later when it’s time for your town to vote. Charity Navigator is a good place to start looking into the financial credibility of charities. Use drawdown.org to help you decide what’s important. Good news, you can help fight for women and the climate at the same time.
Pick a couple of the things everyone has been telling you to do for years and do them:
Take your pick. Try to add one a week to your life and don’t beat yourself up if you fall a little short. Most of these save money as well.
- Use public transportation if you can
- Change your light bulbs
- turn your heat & AC down
- Unplug electronic devices when not in use
- Start a compost pile if you have the space
- If you’ve got old windows upgrade them for a few bucks
- There are plenty more
Again, you don’t have to do everything, just do something.
Contributing Editor: Mike Kanarek
Mike Kanarek (@mfkanarek) is a Boston area geek who works in marketing for tech products and games and loves the outdoors and the living things in it. In his spare time he volunteers for conservation organizations that focus on education and animal rehabilitation, and writes about wildlife conservation and climate change. Mike encourages other to view environmentalism and the fight against global warming as a naturally non-partisan issue that can create a better future for everyone regardless of political affiliation