You may have heard, but the UN released a report from top climate change scientists stating that we have only 12 years left to avoid a climate crisis. This news is shocking and much more urgent than we had previously believed. I’m sure many of us assumed that we wouldn’t see the most drastic impacts of climate change in our lifetime, but it’s here. Despite this deadline being shorter than a Star Wars movie, I haven’t heard enough talk about it. While we wait for the government and corporations to get on board, here are a few things that each of us can do to lessen our own contribution to climate change.
1. NO MORE PLASTIC
Seriously, people. It’s 2018. Can we ditch the fricken’ plastic water bottles? Get a S’Well water bottle! They are so much cuter! But in all seriousness, it is time to make a conscious effort to avoid plastic when you can, and I mean more than just plastic bottles. I mean plastic food containers, plastic produce bags, that Starbucks cup, and the Grubhub you ordered. Let’s limit our single-use consumption because even if you actually make the effort to put those items in a recycling bin, only 9% of plastic actually ends up recycled. It is time to focus on the “Reduce and Reuse” part of the slogan.
2. RECYCLE CORRECTLY
Now, I understand that it is going to be incredibly difficult to avoid ALL plastic ALL THE TIME. I get it. So when you do create waste, make sure that you are recycling what you can, and that you are doing it properly. I know that it helps your guilt to throw everything and anything in the recycling bin, but that can actually be creating more harm than good. Often times “contaminated” recycling (recycling that has too many non-recyclable items in it) leads to the whole lot being sent to the landfills. Do your research. Make sure you know what can be recycled and how to recycle it properly. (Hint hint: almost all recycled materials must be clean of food residue before placed in the recycling.)
3. LESS MEAT
One of the best things you can do to limit your personal contribution to climate change is to take up a vegetarian or vegan diet. We could cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 73% if the whole world took up a vegan diet. That means we could potentially fix climate change simply by stopping the production of animal products. I know, you like cheese and steak, I get it. However, there comes a time when the greater good needs to be more important than our personal food indulges.
4. SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE BRANDS
Use your dollar to push corporations to do their part. Large corporations emit the majority of greenhouse gasses and create many of the problems that are plaguing our world today. Choose to support those companies that are dedicated to doing better, like Lush, Patagonia, and Burt’s Bees.
5. CHANGE THE FOOD CULTURE
I’ll say it right here and now: I have Grubhubbed food from the delicious Thai place down the street more times than I’ve actually eaten in the restaurant. We are all guilty of it. It is way too easy today to stay in our pj’s and have food delivered to our door rather than actually going to the restaurant. But all that ordering-in uses gas and creates more waste. Our food culture has become unnecessarily wasteful and I think it’s time we do better. Let’s pledge to go out with our favorite people, order delicious (vegetarian) food and put our phones down. Make it about the experience and it won’t feel like deprivation.
6. BUY USED AND DONATE
Think about all of the stuff there is in this world. There is so much perfectly good stuff. There is lightly worn furniture and jeans with one little rip and electronics whose light has dimmed. There are things on top of things and the large majority HAVE NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM. Explore thrift stores, Ebay, and consignment shops. Donate your used clothes and electronics in hopes for another life. Focus on the energy and resources it takes to make a single item you own (hint: it’s a lot) the next time you want to simply toss it.
We have created a society of convenience, over-consumption, and waste and now we have to deal with the consequences of that. The end may be in near, but it’s not over yet. It is time to do better and demand better.