5 ways everyone can fight climate change


What can I do to combat climate change?

Concerned with their impact on the environment and wanting to do something to reduce their personal carbon footprint, many people find themselves asking this question. What habits can I curb, where can I reduce my energy use and what products should I be buying?

As the average American produces 16.6 tonnes of carbon pollution every year, there is ample opportunity for all of us to reduce our output.

Though the climate can often seem too big for an individual to do anything about, there are numerous everyday measures all of us can take to reduce our carbon footprint. For this year’s Earth Day, which falls on April 22, consider adopting some of these simple, everyday changes to your lifestyle.

Be aware of the impact of travel. There’s nothing like getting on a plane to visit an old friend or explore a new part of the world. While no one is expecting you to skip out on a visit home during the holidays, it is important to be aware of the carbon emissions that result from flying. For instance, per person, a cross-country flight from San Francisco to New York produces 1.84 tonnes of carbon pollution.

Don’t keep the water on! Remember how your dad used to tell you to turn the water off in the sink? Turns out, he was on to something. Water usage accounts for a large percentage of carbon emissions. That’s why it's important to turn the water off when brushing your teeth, or better yet, to invest in low-flow fixtures. In fact, if 95 percent of homes switched to low-flow taps and showerheads by 2050, we would see a 4.6-gigaton reduction in carbon emissions.

It just takes a couple of clicks. Being able to order virtually anything and get it on your doorstep in a day, or even less, is pretty amazing. But all those packages come at a cost. By simply clicking on the box that lets you bundle your orders or opting out of the one-day delivery option, you can reduce the waste and carbon emissions that go into your order.

Cut back on the red meat you eat. Livestock, which is raised almost exclusively for human consumption, emits a staggering 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gases each year. If livestock were its own country, it would be the second biggest carbon polluter on the planet. The obvious solution is to limit the amount of red meat you eat. This doesn’t mean you need to cut it out entirely, but limiting it to weekends or one night a week can make a big difference.

Don’t be a slave to fashion. Every few months cool new shirts and cute new dresses hit the market. The average American throws out 70 pounds of clothes and many switch out their wardrobe every year. The result of this level of consumption is that the global textile industry accounts for 3 percent of global carbon emissions. Cut back by buying locally made clothes, clothes made of materials that will last (such as linen and wool) and, by the way, there are some real treasures at consignment shops!

Climate change, as it has often been said, is the big issue of our time. The above steps can do a great deal to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint, but for those looking to achieve a zero-emission lifestyle, it's not enough. In addition to incorporating the above tips, supporting carbon reduction projects — which at a mere $89 a year, offsets the total carbon footprint an average American annually makes — is an easy and effective solution.

To learn more about carbon reduction projects and how you can take action today, visit www.cooleffect.org.