The world has warmed to 1° Celsius above pre-industrial levels and is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The most severe climate impacts can be avoided if global warming is limited to 1.5° Celsius. If the rate of warming continues, more frequent and severe extreme weather events will become even more prevalent.
To meet this challenge, we need collective action to reduce GHG emissions – individual action alongside government action. Every action at every level makes a difference – individual, local, regional, national, and international.
So, what can you do? Taking practical, common sense steps to address climate change today not only helps reduce emissions, it protects the rights of our friends and neighbors that are most impacted by a changing climate.
1. Do a household energy audit! Assess your home energy consumption to identify the most impactful ways to reduce the energy your use and your energy bills.
2. Adjust your thermostat. Setting the temperature on your thermostat only one degree higher in the summer or one degree lower in the winter can save you energy and money. Use a programmable thermostat to keep your home most comfortable during the hours you are at home and awake.
3. Small choices, big energy impact! By making small energy-efficient changes in your home, you can make significant strides towards a greener lifestyle. For inexpensive solutions, try unplugging appliances and electronics when not in use, switching to LED lights, caulking windows, adjusting your fridge and freezer temperature, and turning off lights when leaving the room.
4. Save water, save energy! Run the dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer only when full. Take shorter showers. Install low-flow showerheads and faucets. Fix leaky faucets. Set the temperature on your water heater to 120° F. Insulate your hot water pipes and water heater tank for energy savings.
5. Go Solar! Look for a solar co-op in your community to get solar on your roof at a discount. If you don’t own your home or can’t put solar on your roof, check with your utility for green power purchasing options or look for a community solar project near you. Community solar lets you get a “share” of or subscribe to a community solar project AND gives you a credit on your electricity bill!
6. Travel responsibly! Every time you choose to forgo the car and walk, cycle, or use public transit, you are making a conscious decision to help preserve the Earth. If driving is unavoidable, try opting for car sharing and consider an electric vehicle for your next vehicle purchase. If you have a vehicle, make sure to keep your tires properly inflated and service your vehicle regularly.
7. Shop with purpose! When shopping ask yourself, ‘Do I need this? Could I borrow instead of buy? Is there a plastic free option?’ Look for opportunities to buy local, eco-friendly options. Climate friendly food choices include eating a plant-rich diet and less meat and dairy. Say no to Styrofoam at restaurants and no to plastic bags at stores. Supporting environmentally-conscious businesses with your money is another great way to adopt a greener shopping strategy.
8. Reduce, reuse, recycle! By buying less bottled drinks and relying on reusable alternatives, such as coffee mugs, bags and utensils, you can help limit your carbon footprint. Donate or sell unwanted items instead of throwing them away. Upcycle by taking something no longer in use and giving it a second life and new function. Recycle metal cans, glass, plastics, printer, fax, and copier cartridges. Compost your yard and kitchen scraps.
9. Plant a tree! By doing something simple like planting a tree, you can make a lasting impact. Trees planted strategically to shade your home can save energy. Trees reduce the amount of storm water runoff, which reduces erosion and pollution in our waterways and may reduce the effects of flooding in your community.
10. Talk about the changes you make! You are a model for your family, friends, and neighbors. Talk about what you’re doing to reduce your carbon footprint and why. By doing so, you will contribute to a culture of change. Conversations are a great way to spread big ideas. You might inspire another person to take an action, too!