With Earth Day drawing close, I thought it might be a good time to remind people about climate change and environmentalism. The majority knows that our planet is on the brink and in dire need of major help. But many aren’t doing anything about it, quoting statements such as:
“But it is the job of the government and organisations to create programmes and opportunities for us to go green.”
Until recently, I had the same sentiments. I realised that we can’t only depend on government bodies and commercial businesses to make a change. I’m jaded by all the falses promises and greenwashing made by organisations over the years about their impact on saving our planet. It is all a marketing ploy to get us to believe that their products, vision, mission, processes and policies are all environmentally friendly to drive consumerism.
I wanted to believe them; we all do. But even if those handfuls of businesses stay true to their promise and are on track to meeting their target, that isn’t enough to save the planet!
Defeating climate change and saving our planet is a collective effort. I’m not a saint or an activist, just an advocate trying to support and create systematic change.
Some of my essential daily products are in plastic bottles, but I contribute in other areas like going on a pescatarian diet and most days, vegetarian. I try to shop less, rehash my clothes, borrow books from the library, take cold showers, and turn off the lights when not in use, but even with all that, I know I am not doing enough.
Given how slow our progress is and the severity of our climate crisis, it doesn’t just call for carbon neutrality and sustainability. We should be aiming to do more, and we need everyone to be involved! While we keep pushing for organisations and our politicians to make changes that we can’t, we also need to display exemplary behaviour.
Many would love to be involved, but with multiple contradicting evidence and claims, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Your carbon footprint doesn’t have to be zero for you to contribute. If everyone can reduce their carbon footprint by 50%, that’s 50% of the entire world’s amount of greenhouse gas reduced!
So here is a list, a very simple list, of 15 things we can do starting today. It may include things you already know, but it shall be a reminder that you have the choice to save the planet.
- Save trees, postage and money by unsubscribing to catalogues, magazines and physical bills. Opt for digital subscription or e-bills.
- Reduce your meat consumption to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock industry-especially from beef. The Meatless Monday movement is no longer enough.
According to recent scientific studies, avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the most significant ways to reduce your environmental impact.
This can also be beneficial to your health and can be done very easily by slowly weaving meat out of your diet. If cutting meat is out of the question, try a food impact calculator to see what else you can potentially cut back on.
- Take cold showers. Not only does taking cold showers benefit you mentally and physically, but it also saves the planet. Showering with cold water uses less electricity and heat, hence lowering your global footprint.
Additionally, you’ll most probably not stay in the shower for too long, reducing your water usage and saving scarce resources. This simple action can save you some money as well.
- Don’t use a dryer. Line-dry your clothes. Letting your clothes dry out in the open requires no electricity, natural gas or extra money. It can also prevent your clothes from shrinkage, fading, and weakening.
- Take public transport. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this. But if you need a little refresher, taking public transport cuts back on carbon emissions and helps you to save cost. It is also safer and promotes a healthier lifestyle.
- Shop less. Your dollar is your vote. You are voting for companies to produce more without actually thinking about the impact and consequences on our environment.
I’m not telling you to go cold turkey on shopping and leading a zero-waste lifestyle. I’m encouraging you to think twice before you buy something. Do you really need that new bag?
This consumerism and capitalist mindset developed over so many centuries, counteract others’ work to decrease emissions. Shopping less helps you to save money as well.
- If you have to shop online, buy things in bulk from the same warehouse and don’t select express shipping.
This is a complex issue, and talking about this is like opening a can of worms, so I’ll let this heavily researched article do the talking. And also this video.
- Urge your companies to save energy by shutting down the aircon and lights at night and when no one is in the office. Encouraging your office to turn the lights off past a certain time also urges employees not to stay too late.
When your employees are not overworked and have time outside of their job, they tend to be more productive and efficient during work hours.
- Try to incorporate the 5Rs into your life; refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle.
Refuse what you don’t need. Reduce what you need. Reuse what you have. Reuse what works. Repurpose what doesn’t. Recycle the others.
- Reduce single-use plastic. Most single-use plastics are made from non-renewable resources and energy. Furthermore, they take a very long time to break down even when they are “biodegradable” or “compostable”.
Bring along your own water bottle, foldable cup and straw, and a reusable bag. If you’d like to know more about reducing your plastic waste, check out this article here.
- Turn off lights and switches when not in use.
- Donate and support regenerative agriculture causes. Regenerative agriculture is beneficial to farmers and their crops, and it helps us to fight climate change by pulling carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the soil.
- Advocate for change by using your voice. Talk about it with friends and family, share on social media or create a movement.
- Try food composting. Food waste is a huge contributor to climate change globally. Turn your food waste into nutrient-rich fertiliser.
Use the finished compost for home gardening to replace some of your bought food and decrease your carbon footprint. It is also a fun activity to do.
- Replace your search engine with Ecosia — a search engine that plants trees with at least 80% of their profits.
“Apart from being the most effective CO2 absorbers we have, trees help mitigate climate change, restart water cycles, stop deserts from spreading and turn barren grounds back into fertile woods and farmland.”stated in Ecosia’s blog on why they plant trees.
Besides saving the planet, planting trees also help communities in need and endangered animals from losing their habitat.
I am guilty of not being more conscious of myself and the environment. So this article is also a reminder for me. If you have any other suggestions (I know there are plenty), please feel free to leave a response to their article.
Saving our planet is not my job; it is ours.