The tips provided below were based on Guy Dauncey’s “The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming” and include some of the most approachable solutions that can be achieved by individuals trying to minimize their contribution to climate change.
Things You Can Do Now to Reduce Your Personal Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
Be aware of your carbon emissions. Use a carbon calculator to estimate your carbon footprint and familiarize yourself with which of your habits contribute the most to climate change. Personal Emissions Calculator.
Reduce Energy Use: Alter your habits!
Turn off the lights when you are not using them.
Replace standard light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs.
Unplug electronics when you are not using them.
Wash your laundry with cold water and hang dry.
Purchase Energy Star appliances. They typically use 20% less energy than non-Energy Star products.
Make sure you fix leaks and drips.
Turn water off when brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your hands.
Try reusing water for irrigation or cleaning when possible.
Recycle: Make recycling part of your daily routine!
Actively separate your waste, and recycle plastic, metal, glass and paper.
Use reusable shopping bags.
Instead of buying bottled water, use a water filter and a reusable water container.
Choose recycled materials instead of raw materials when shopping to avoid more trash in our landfills.
Try buying things with minimal packaging.
Recycle old batteries or electronics at specified facilities.
Compost. In addition to having a trash bin and recycling bin, add a third bin to your home for all your food scraps. These scraps can then be composted in your backyard or at a local community garden.
Repurpose. Instead of throwing things away and contributing to our landfills, consider alternative uses for those goods. Another option is to donate those goods to others who may use them instead of having to buy new ones.
Eat less meat and diary. Livestock produces enormous amounts of CO2 and methane, and largely contributes to deforestation. Overall, livestock is responsible for approximately 18% of global GHG emissions. Removing meat from your diet even once a week can help reduce emissions.
Buy local and organic. Organic agriculture employs processes that minimize the use of harmful chemicals. It also uses practices that benefit wildlife and biodiversity, and that conserve resources.
Rethink how you commute. Transportation is currently responsible for approximately 28% of GHG emissions in the United States. Bike and walk wherever possible, this will not only lower your carbon footprint, but it will also benefit your health. If biking or walking is not possible, try carpooling or public transit.
Invest in green power. Install photovoltaic (PV) panels on your rooftop. Research where your utility gets their power and encourage them to use a larger amount of renewable energy sources. Consider establishing a Community Choice Aggregate in your neighborhood.
Adopt green building features:
Use efficient insulation to minimize need for heating/cooling.
Use passive solar orientation and design.
Install non-carbon heating/cooling technology.
Use local and recycled materials.
Retrofit older buildings to be more energy efficient.
Grow food and plants! If possible, create a vegetable and fruit garden. A lot of GHG emissions associated with produce transportation can be avoided if we lower our dependency on food grown far away. Furthermore, fill your garden with vegetation; plants provide the important service of storing carbon and releasing breathable O2 through photosynthesis. Choose local plants that don’t use too much water and help sustain local wildlife. Plant trees, they are very efficient at sequestering carbon and providing shade. Plants also help return nutrients to the soil when they eventually decay.
Help educate and encourage others to lower their carbon dependency and emissions. Join a neighborhood support/action group. Create an after school or work club to develop projects that help bring change and awareness in your surrounding community. Incorporate sustainability into high school curriculums.
Buy carbon offsets. Many non-profit organizations help developing countries to install renewable energy to lean off their dependency on fossil fuels. After altering your own lifestyle and habits to minimize your carbon footprint, consider donating or volunteering to a non-profit that helps lower carbon emissions around the globe (example: Solar Electric Light Fund).
Take Initiative and get involved politically. Meet with your elected government officials and voice your concerns and demand solutions to an existing issue that is contributing to climate change. This is an efficient manner of bringing change from the bottom up. Also, VOTE, this can allow you to elect knowledgeable and dedicated leaders that will help reverse climate change and pass legislation that addresses this issue. Additionally, consider joining an activist group that promotes change towards a green future.
Vote with your dollar. Selectively choose where you purchase your goods. Climate Counts is an initiative that rates different businesses based on their commitment to sustainability. Using this information can help you solely shop with businesses that actively attempt to minimize their contribution to climate change. This can help shift the commercial sector towards more environmentally friendly practices. Furthermore, choose products that are made with recycled materials, or that use manufacturing processes that have minimal or no detrimental effects on the environment.