It is widely accepted around the world that human activity is affecting Earth's climate. From air pollution to modern society's fondness of throwing stuff away, humans are not acting as the best custodians for planet Earth.
However, with a little effort, each of us can do our part in reducing climate change.
So, what could you do to protect the environment, and help with climate change prevention, on an individual level?
1. Say no to plastic
No doubt plastics are harmful, not only for the health of humans but also for biodiversity. By reducing the amount of plastic you use (especially that you dispose of), will go a long way to helping out.
Considering the abundance of plastic in our lives, the task seems enormous. But, some small steps can considerably decrease the amount of plastic that we use every day.
Simple ways to reduce plastic in your life include:
- Using a recyclable cloth bag
- Using refillable glass, clay, stainless steel, or copper bottles instead of plastic
- Replace your plastic straws with reusable steel or paper ones
- Shop with stores and brands that use non-plastic packaging
- Always ask for a reusable or non-plastic option when shopping or getting take away. The more people request re-usable containers, the more companies and businesses will get the idea that they need to supply them.
2. Renewables to the rescue
Replacing fossil fuels with sustainable and renewable energy is always a good idea in this day and age. The use of solar panels, for example, would save thousands of megawatts of electricity if lots of people adopted it.
Setting up rooftop solar panels can be expensive. But with the advancements in technology, solar is becoming more efficient while the costs of installation are going down. Check out whether you can sell your excess power back to the grid and make some money meanwhile too perhaps.
You could also explore installing other domestic-scale renewables like a small wind turbine or a heat pump.
If these options are not practical, consider ways of cutting back on your use of energy at home. Placing lights on timers, and turning the heat or air conditioning down by just 1 or 2 degrees could make a big difference.
3. Whenever possible, use public transport
Using public transportation not only provides a way to reduce pollution in cities, but it could also allow you to meet new people on your journey. It also aids in reducing the traffic congestion on the streets, which in turn further reduces the pollution from cars idling, and could allow everyone to reach their destinations faster.
There are many examples of governments incentivizing this practice. For example, the government of Luxembourg has experimented with waving all the fares on public transportation goodbye in order to increase its usage and reduce the amount of emissions and traffic.
4. Switch to electric cars
The switch to electric vehicles has become a cost-effective way of conserving energy. The prices of vehicles and installing a home-based charging station is going down, and the availability of charging stations on the road, including fast-charging stations is going up. Today's e-vehicles also have a much longer range than previous versions. The next few years will also see the release of a huge array of high-spec SUVs and small trucks.
There are a lot of benefits to switching to an electric vehicle in addition to the reduced emissions. They are quieter and you will pay only pennies to "fill up the tank." Electric vehicles will last much longer than gasoline-power vehicles, as there is less wear and tear on the car, and they maintain their value much better than gasoline-powered vehicles as well.
5. Reduce food waste
In places where income is low, and infrastructure is weak, food loss is often unintended and structural in nature, as food may spoil before it can reach the market. But in developed nations, food wastage is often due to people buying more than they need, or stores' reluctance to sell produce that does not look "perfect" or which is too close to its sell-by date.
In both situations, the end result is similar, a wastage of resources.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals call for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels by 2030, as well as reducing food losses along production and supply chains. In order to curb global food loss, the government of every country should formulate strict rules to avoid wastage.
But, by being a little more conscious of portion sizes and of how we use fresh food, you can make a significant impact at home. In fact, simply making a meal plan for the week before going grocery shopping — ensuring that you buy only what you will be able to use before it goes bad, has been proven to be effective at cutting domestic food waste. And it will also save you money.
6. Stop chopping down the forests
The loss of trees and other vegetation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, less crop yield, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as harming the lives and livelihoods of local and indigenous people.
Because forests are often cut down in order to use the land for raising cattle and food crops for export markets, deforestation does little to help local people. When rainforests are cut down, the soil generally only contains enough nutrients for one or two harvests, then the farmers and ranchers move on to the next area. When old growth forests are cut, it can take hundreds, or even thousands of years for the ecosystem to grow back.
Many flora and fauna are on the verge of extinction due to the loss of their natural habitat.
Plus, forests are awesome places to spend time in.
7. Turn that damn thing off!
Almost all the devices that we use these days consume electricity in some form or other, and it is common practice to leave devices switched on or in standby mode. This, inevitably, leads to unnecessary loss of electricity.
So, turn off those electrical appliances — unless absolutely necessary (like fridges, etc).
Not only will this help save on your electricity bills (which ultimately everybody wants), but will also help you do your part to stop wasting precious energy.
If you have the budget, you might also want to consider "smart-ifying" your home with some smart home energy management solutions. You'll be paid back the initial investment time.
Ensuring the good health of our planet is for our own good. We’ve been exploiting the natural resources for a long, but it is high time we realize the damage it has done to the planet and takes the necessary steps to protect our only shelter.
While some of these solutions might be costly in the short term, many will pay dividends in the long run. After all, it is all of our responsibility to ensure our posterity inherits a clean, and habitable planet for the benefit of all.