By Alana Hippensteele
September 27, 2019
Climate change is no longer a question. The research is in—it is happening. Insurance companies are planning for a difficult future where humans’ lives and well-being will be more affected by extreme weather, scientists are researching ways to reflect back the sun’s rays in the sky to prepare for a potential future of unbearable heat, and some cities are planning for ways to cool intense heat within them—from covering black roads with white concrete to adding plants to the tops of roofs. The reality of climate change is upon us, and since none of us have ever experienced this reality before, many of us are unsure of what to do to prepare ourselves or potentially make our future better.
There are certain things we know could help: stop using fossil fuels, stop eating beef and other animal proteins, stop flying on airplanes, stop driving cars, or stop having as many children. Yet many of these changes are hard to commit to in practice unless our societies, our countries, and our world don’t make significant changes that would support a different way of living and conducting business.
Greta Thunberg stated at the UN Climate Summit in New York on September 23 that “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say—we will never forgive you.”
Greta is not wrong. The children of today will face difficulties and challenges in their future due to the effects of climate change that many people of older generations will never know. Greta has advocated for the #FridaysForFuture movement, which has recently resulted in a global climate strike on Friday, September 20, 2019.
So, what can we do individually to listen to Greta and the people striking in the streets for climate change? Here are six suggestions:
- Use your car less
Whenever possible, biking or using public transport more frequently can diminish your carbon footprint significantly.
- Divest funds out of polluting activities
Although it may be difficult to affect immediate change on a global scale, it is possible to affect change with your wallet, even if that change may seem incremental. By avoiding stocks in fossil fuel companies or using or investing in banks and other organizations that themselves invest in high-emission industries, for example, we can affect change financially and show where our priorities lie.
- Fly less and use trains, when possible
Since planes run on fossil fuels, the decision to avoid air travel whenever possible—such as taking a train from New York to DC rather than a flight—can diminish your carbon emissions.
- Save energy
By turning off your air conditioning or heating while you’re at work or unplugging appliances when they’re no longer in use, you can effectively save energy and also save money.
If vegetarianism doesn’t seem like a viable option, there is another diet that could fit with your needs: flexitarianism. This diet, also sometimes referred to as “casual vegetarianism,” is a primarily plant-based diet that allows for occasional meat intake, which still successfully reduces your carbon footprint.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
Although there is more work to be done on a national level in regard to standardizing recycling across the country, there are still actions that individuals can take to reduce, reuse, and recycle. To start, check the recycling standards of your city or county and make sure you are aware of what can be recycled in your area. Then take a look at the items you currently use that cannot be recycled. Are there any products used in your household that can be replaced with more easily reusable products? Two possible examples are (1) switching from plastic grocery bags to reusable bags (or “bags for life” in the UK) or (2) switching from plastic resealable storage bags to wax food bags or storage covers.
It may feel overwhelming, but if we work together to support and inform each other as to the importance of making these changes, we can make a difference.
Alana Hippensteele is the Editor of American Cleaning &