We can all agree that climate change is pretty frightening when you take a good close look at it.
Mostly because there doesn’t seem to be much that each of us as individuals can do to really help.
But in reality, there is SO MUCH that we can do. Every one of us. While our everyday actions may seem small to each of us individually, they can make a significant global impact when we all take action together. THERE IS POWER IN NUMBERS.
Here are some ideas to get you started!
First, a note: The primary ways we can help reduce the effects of climate change are (1) reducing fossil fuel use (driven by manufacturing & transportation costs) and (2) preventing waste from going into landfills.
We have a huge opportunity to use our actions and our dollars to vote for a brighter future!
So with that in mind, here are the starting points, the most simple ways that you can make a HUGE difference for the environment in your everyday life:
1. When making purchasing decisions, buy local, because then you are cutting out the fossil fuel costs of shipping things by plane, train, and automobile from China / Europe / California to [your home town]. If you want lettuce, buy it from the local farmer’s market. If you want clothes, look for items made in your country. Always seek out locally grown and locally manufactured products.
2. Buy items with little or no packaging. Use your reusable shopping bags every time, every store, so you’re not increasing the demand for non-biodegradable plastic bags. Buy foods in bulk whenever possible (bring your own containers). Get a refillable water bottle instead of using a new plastic disposable (non-biodegradable) bottle every time.
3. Recycle everything that your local recycling program will accept. We need to keep the landfills from growing. Landfills not only pollute our land and oceans, they also emit huge amounts of methane, which is a greenhouse gas that adds to global warming. (Trash = Landfill)
4. Compost: Ideally we should not put any fruit or vegetable matter in the trash. Compost it instead, and use the compost as fertilizer for your garden.
5. Buy organic / non-GMO produce, eggs, and meats. Remember that you vote with your dollars. When you choose pesticide-free, non-GMO foods, you are supporting the farmers who are working hard to provide us these natural products. The more organic items we purchase, the more sustainable it will be for organic farms to stay in business and continue to provide MORE organic foods, and likely at a lower cost to consumers over time.
6. Don’t use pesticides or herbicides. There are so many natural ways of keeping your lawn and garden healthy. Pesticides and herbicides poison our water supply, kill our bees and butterflies (essential for crop pollination), and release toxic substances into the air that we and our children, grandchildren, and pets breathe. If you have a lawn, home, or garden need that you think requires pesticides or herbicides, type into Google: “Natural ways to ____” (fill in the problem you need solved). I guarantee you’ll be surprised at what you find.
7. Eat more plant-based foods and less meat. Animal agriculture contributes between 14 to 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of greenhouse gases that we produce each year on the planet. The production of meat and dairy require large amounts of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, fuel, and water. Manure, chemicals, and fuels run off the land into bodies of water, creating dead zones in the ocean along with other environmental damage. Animal agriculture is wasteful. It takes about 15 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef, and about 5 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of chicken. We are using far more resources to produce meat than we are to produce an equivalent amount of fruits / vegetables / other plant-based foods. I know it’s difficult to make the switch, but even committing to eating vegetarian meals 1 day per week can make a huge impact over the course of a year. Additionally, diets low in meat and animal products provide countless health benefits, as evidenced by the Mediterranean diet and the “Blue Zones,” areas of the world where people live the longest.
8. Buy used items whenever possible. Toys, clothing, furniture, appliances, and so on. Used items require no additional manufacturing (fossil fuels) and usually little or no transportation costs. Or arrange to periodically swap items with friends & neighbors.
9. Set your thermostat to energy-saving settings. Set it to run less frequently while you’re away from the house. Don’t keep your home at 65 degrees in the summer! Air conditioning is a luxury, and we should be careful not to overuse it.
10. Switch to a more fuel-efficient car. And keep in mind, electric vehicles still use fossil fuels. Where do you think the electricity comes from? In most cases, it’s from burning coal or from nuclear power plants, both of which pose serious dangers to the environment. The best option is to walk and bike whenever possible, and choose the smallest, most fuel-efficient car you can manage.
11. Turn off your car when it’s idling. No excuses! Just turn it off! The idea that it burns more fuel to turn your car off and then on again, is a myth. It actually burns more fuel to leave it running if it’s any more than 15 seconds. So turn it off when you’re waiting outside a store for someone, or when you’re running in quickly to drop something off. Turn it off every time!
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Ok, so you’ve got all that and you’re ready to make an even bigger difference?
Here are some fantastic ways you can help save the rainforests, preserve indigenous wisdom, take a chunk out of your carbon footprint, and more:
Get involved in helping to preserve the Amazon rainforest, which provides 20% of the entire Earth’s oxygen. The rainforest’s survival is critical to the survival of life as we know it on our planet.
One key way to help save the rainforest is by collaborating with the indigenous people who live there. Indigenous tribes have existed sustainably in the Amazon for thousands of years (probably way longer than that, but it’s difficult for scientists to tell when they first arrived there). They are among the last people on Earth still living a 100% sustainable lifestyle. We have a huge opportunity to learn from them. Also, these indigenous peoples are are acting as the protectors of the rainforest. They in the best position to monitor the water, trees, and every corner of the jungle for changes, development from oil companies, pollution, and so on. They are now able to bring legal cases against states and companies when the land is harmed or developed without consulting them first. They are critical to the rainforest’s survival.
So, how to help? There are several nonprofit organizations working to preserve the rainforest and at the same time to protect the indigenous inhabitants’ ancient, sustainable, traditional way of life. Click on the links below and sign up to join the mailing lists of these organizations. This will connect you with their initiatives, which may include funding campaigns, political initiatives, volunteer work, and many other important activities.
I truly believe these four organizations are doing some of the most important work that can possibly occur to slow global warming and preserve indigenous wisdom around sustainability and how to live in harmony with the Earth and ensure the health of our planet in the future.
The Pachamama Alliance Mission: To empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world.
Amazon Watch Vision: We envision a world that honors and values cultural and biological diversity and the critical contribution of tropical rainforests to our planet’s life support system. We believe that indigenous self-determination is paramount, and see that indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contribute greatly to sustainable and equitable stewardship of the Earth. We strive for a world in which governments, corporations and civil society respect the collective rights of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent over any activity affecting their territories and resources. We commit, in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect, to support our indigenous allies in their efforts to protect life, land, and culture in accordance with their aspirations and needs.
Rainforest Action Network Mission: RAN campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing and non-violent direct action. Unlike any other organization, RAN does this through the lens of corporate accountability. RAN tackles some of the biggest corporations, banks, and global institutions on the planet. RAN takes on these campaigns not to change the behavior of individual companies, but to change the practices and business culture of whole industrial sectors.
Rainforest Alliance Mission: The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. Strategy: At the heart of the Rainforest Alliance’s approach is the understanding that the health of the land is inextricably connected to the wellbeing of those who depend on it for their livelihoods. Our approach includes training and certification to promote healthy ecosystems and communities in some of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems.
(Currently in Development … More to Come Soon!)