Temperatures are rising, the polar ice caps are melting, and life as we know it is teetering on the edge of irreparable harm. When it comes to the damage consumers and corporations are wreaking on the environment, we can either keep going the way that we are and face the destruction of our planet, or do something to preserve the place we call home. The past decade, scientists have gathered more data than ever on climate change and the impact of global warming and it’s clear that we need to do something now, or else face the consequences.
So, what can you as an individual do to help combat the destruction of all that we know? No, you don’t have to be a full-time eco-warrior to make small changes in your lifestyle. Change starts in your own backyard, so here are some easy tips to start with from home.
1. Shop Local
When you order products online, it’s automatically going to increase the carbon emissions as they will need to be packed and shipped. Additionally, if you are ordering from a large retailer like Amazon, there is no telling where your product actually came from and what amount of energy was expended in getting it to the warehouse and finally, to you. Shopping local not only supports small businesses, it also means knowing where your items come from. Try to invest in high-quality items that have been made locally, and don’t use packaging if you can help it.
2. Check for Certifications on Sustainability
When shopping for clothing, shoes, or household items that you can’t find locally, look for companies that certify sustainability and eco-friendly practices. For example, a pair of sustainable sneakers made of canvas should show that they have been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard. Don’t just look for wording in their advertising, make sure your organic cotton sneakers actually have proof of their claims. Certifications might come from the:
- World Fair Trade Organization
- Fairtrade International Standards
- Global Recycled Standard
- Leather Working Group
3. Grow Your Own Food
The less your food has to travel to the table, the better your carbon footprint will be. Where possible, grow your own fruit, veggies, and herbs that you can enjoy fresh anytime you want. If you don’t have a large backyard for gardening, look into vertical gardens — many of which can be set up in small places, like an apartment balcony. You’ll be amazed how much better your homegrown food tastes than store bought. For any food that you don’t grow yourself, shop at your local farmer’s market and make organic, sustainable food choices.
4. Eat Less Meat and Dairy
The raising of livestock is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions — 14.5 percent of the world’s total to be exact, so it’s best to avoid buying meat and dairy altogether. Fish is much more sustainable, as fish don’t require the amount of land or machinery that is used for raising livestock. The best types of fish to eat in terms of reducing energy consumption are small schooling fish like herring and anchovies.
5. Reduce Energy Consumption
A lot of us lose points for energy consumption at home without even realizing it. For example, do you turn off all the lights when you are not at home? In many places, it’s not even necessary to have lights on during the day as you can simply use the natural light that comes in the windows. If you do turn on the lights, make sure they are equipped with energy efficient LED bulbs. Take shorter showers to save energy and water and always fix leaky plumbing.
6. Don’t Drive as Often
If you live in a place with public transportation, taking the subway or bus is definitely more energy efficient than driving your own car. If not, try carpooling with your co-workers. If you live close to work, you could also bike or walk. If you must drive your own car, make sure it is a green car with a hybrid gas model or at least is a car with low gas mileage.
7. Look into Renewable Energy Sources
Finally, look into installing sources of renewable energy in your home. Rooftop solar panels or solar shingles are the most popular options for residential properties. If solar is not for you, you can look into using a residential wind system or using a geothermal heat pump.