Repeat after me: Individual actions determine collective output.
Climate change, the most pressing issue for the earth and our society, is the measurable shift in weather patterns that extend beyond natural variability. Climate change is primarily caused by the emissions of greenhouse gases, (like CO2, methane, and ozone) into the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases are released via human activities stemming from a dependence on fossil fuel, livestock, and mass industrial production. The gases are notorious for trapping heat into the atmosphere and refracting warmer temperature back to the earth’s surface, which results in higher global temperatures.
That shifting of temperature influences the global economy, society, and environment. Climate change is inextricably linked to rising sea levels, extreme weather patterns, and a detrimental shift global food production. Long story short: climate change, while a slow burn, has long-term effects that can and will affect our quality of life.
Often, those most affected by global warming are geographically and financially isolated, which means that their actions aren’t the ones propelling the climate crisis. Ironically, climate change stems from the global west’s dependence on consumption, growth, and unsustainable production.
For those of us that have the privilege and space to change our individual actions, making intuitive choices to lessen our impact can play a vital role in reducing climate change - especially when these small changes are done by large quantities.
We’re not asking you to move to the forest, live off the land, and become a full-fledged rainbow warrior - although that does have a certain appeal. We’re just suggesting some easy, approachable ways to include climate friendly actions into your day to day.
1. The (4) R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Refuse
A staple in the environmentalists toolkit, the token phrase ‘reuse, reduce, and recycle’ is more than a mantra - it’s a mindset. We’re adding a new R to the arsenal by the name of ‘refuse’. The basis of the 4 R’s is to simply think carefully and critically about what you use, why you use it, and if you actually need it.
Reduce: What do you have, what do you consume, and how can you change your patterns?
Reuse: Fix it ‘till its broke.
Recycle: If you’re going to throw something out, make sure it’s going to the right place.
Refuse: Just say no. When offered an item out of convenience, it’s okay to (politely) say no thank you.
2. Calculate your Carbon Footprint Calculator
What're your personal carbon emissions?
Before implementing climate reduction measures, it’s important to have a sense of your average impact on the environment. A carbon footprint is defined as “the total emissions caused by an individual expressed by a carbon dioxide equivalent.” As a point of reference, in Australia the average CO2 output per person is 20.6 tonnes.
While a bit of an archaic calculation system, the Carbon Footprint Calculator gives you a rough estimate of your carbon footprint: from your household energy consumption, to your consumer habits, to transportation methods.
3. Go plant-based (or at least reduce your meat consumption)
According to Joseph Poore, of the University of Oxford, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.”
The meat and dairy industry carry agriculture’s biggest footprint due to the amount of land and resources needed to produce a small percentage of product. Beef, in comparison to tofu, produces 30x the amount of greenhouse gases per 100g.
Going entirely plant-based may not be realistic - but taking the time to understand what goes into making that perfect steak may inform how and where you buy your food.
4. Carbon Offsets, baby
That flight to Bali? That escapade to the south of France? While always a hoot, traveling far and wide isn’t necessarily earth friendly. Flights account for over 3% of global carbon dioxide production while directly emitting those greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Yikes.
Between emission outputs, fuel production, and general environmental costs, the ability to travel is a luxury that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Enter carbon offsets, the idea that emissions can be offset by funding an alternative carbon dioxide saving project.
Most airlines offer carbon offset programs through their booking systems. If anything, adding a few dollars to your flight ticket will give you piece of mind, while contributing to carbon saving projects along the way.
5. Commute smarter
How do you get to work? To the places that you love?
Sometimes, driving a car is unavoidable. But when there are other options for getting around, we’re all for it! Whether that manifests in carpooling, public transport, walking, or riding your bike, trying alternative means of transportation not only reduces emissions, but can make you see the world in a new way. It’s also cheaper, which means your hard earned dollars can be spent elsewhere.
6. Vote with your dollar
The companies and processes you support go a long way. Voting with your dollar can translate into supporting earth-friendly ventures, local companies, and lower impact efforts. All things that play a role in maintaining and potentially reducing climate change.
The idea of voting with your dollar goes well beyond physically purchasing a product. It’s a way to support alternative means of production, which when done in mass, sends a message to industries to change their operational standards to meet what consumers want.
7. Integrate Earth-friendly Tech Into Your Life
If you’re at a point where integrating and investing in earth-friendly tech is viable, you’re able to significantly reduce your impact with tools like:
It may even be worth asking an expert for a home audit to learn what other ways you can reduce your home’s climate change emissions.
8. Take Collective Action
True movements take people - and lots of them. At the heart of a climate change checklist is fostering an understanding for the issues in place and the solutions to remedy them.
Whether that’s supporting political parties that support the environment through their policies, or encouraging your community to take micro steps towards reducing their collective impact , this should be a time to let your voice be heard.
This list is just the start - what are some of the ways you consciously reduce your carbon footprint? We'd love to know in the comments below.