There are a lot of ways to take action to save the climate.
We could all drive Teslas, vote for the right politicians, and spend a weekend cleaning up a national park.
However, many climate change solutions involve lots of money, time, and hard work.
For the majority of us on a day-to-day basis, we need simple changes in our lives that are still powerful and effective and won’t break the bank.
Here are 7 ways we can help beat climate change:
1) Take 5 Minute Showers
Conserving water is important, because it’s not as infinite as you might think. Though 71% of the Earth is covered by water, 96.5% of this is salt water. But, out of the remaining fresh water, 2% is unreachable, as it’s in ice form, far beneath the ground, or too polluted to use.
So, we have less than 1% of all the water on Earth available for our use.
In 2011, Unilever published a survey which found that the average shower time was 8 minutes. Since the average shower pumps out water at about 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) per minute, we use roughly 20 gallons (76 liters) of water per shower!
Cutting that 8-minute shower saves a lot of water while still giving you plenty of time to get all the suds off. Need help timing a 5-minute shower? Harvard has a short blog post with 5 ways to time your shower.
2) Bring Your Own Bag
This is an easy and well-known solution to saving our environment, but one of the ways to beat climate change that many of us still struggle with.
First, let’s look at a few scary stats about single-use plastic bags, according to SPREP:
- Though they look flimsy, store-given plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to decompose;
- 500 billion plastic bags are used every year—which is about 1 million bags each minute;
- The amount of petroleum needed to make one plastic bag could power a car for 377 ft (115 meters);
- Plastic bags which end up in the oceans are responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 marine animals, including sea turtles and fish which mistake them for food.
All it takes to do your part is to bring your own bag.
Avoid reusing a single-use plastic bag, because, although you’re helping a bit, it won’t last too long. Get yourself something sturdy, a reusable bag which is also foldable. Then, simply remember to take it with you each time you go shopping, or just keep it on your person or in your purse each day.
3) Go Meat Free
There are many ways how a vegetarian or vegan diet is better for the environment than one which includes meat.
First, there are the greenhouse gas emissions that pollute our atmosphere. According to a study by the European Parliament, for every 1 kg of beef or mutton consumed, anywhere from 7–37 kg of CO2 is produced in the animal’s lifetime. In fact, the average omnivorous eater is responsible for double the GHG emissions that vegetarian eaters are.
Also, according to the World Wide Fund UK, a meat-inclusive diet requires 2.5 times the amount of land required for farming compared to a veggie diet. With the world population bordering on 10 billion by 2050, additional farmland will become more and more necessary, which will lead to deforestation to create the extra acreage.
Furthermore, a vegetarian diet uses less water, and we just discussed how important that is. The Vegetarian Society calculates that just 1 small 8oz chicken breast, enough for a single dinner, takes more than 143 gallons (542 liters) of water to produce. That’s enough to take almost 12 5-minute showers!
Not charging your phone?
Sure, you can unplug the phone from the charger. But, you should also unplug that charger from the outlet.
Believe it or not, plugged in cables, devices, and appliances still consume power. Known variously as “ghost load,” “phantom power,” or “vampire energy,” this seemingly tiny discharge adds up over time.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the typical US household spends about an extra $165 per year because of not unplugging items when not in use. As the New York Times relates this to climate impact, Americans alone add 44 million tons of CO2 just for keeping dormant devices plugged in.
Definitely one of the easiest ways to beat climate change—all it takes is a quick tug!
5) Refill And Reuse
We humans make a lot of trash.
Most of the time, however, we live in ignorant bliss, far removed from the funky, unsightly mountainous peaks of the landfill.
We talked about bags earlier, and yes, most of these single-use shopping bags end up at the dump after just one grocery outing. However, there’s way more than just plastic bags to refill or reuse.
Bought a bottle of water for refreshment? Save that bottle to refill later on. Has your liquid soap just run out? Reuse that dispenser rather than throwing it away after one go. Enjoyed a microwaveable TV dinner? Rinse out the plastic tray and use it again for a future snack.
Also, be creative. A strategically cut cola bottle can become a funnel. A plastic plate could be reused as a plant saucer. Disposable straws can be used for unclogging ketchup bottles or keeping necklaces tangle-free. The only limit is your imagination!
Here’s the thing: you’re not only helping to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, but you’re also leaving more money in your pocket. It’s a win-win!
And, if you’re so inclined, that extra cash can be used to…
6) Plant A Tree
Trees are awesome—they help reduce erosion, provide shade, offer privacy, and give us the oxygen we need to survive. When combined with runaway cats, they give firefighters in suburban neighborhoods around the world job security.
However, planting new trees can also help us reduce climate change.
It’s hard to calculate how much carbon dioxide trees remove from the air, but estimates range from 40–100 lbs (18–45 kg) per year per average tree. Plant-for-the-Planet estimates that planting 1 trillion additional trees would remove up to 25% of human-produced CO2 emissions per year.
Researchers from the ETH Zürich university in Switzerland, led by Professor Tom Crowther, have found that there are about 3.04 trillion trees on the planet today. While that may seem like a lot, it’s about half as many (46%) as there were when human civilization first began. On top of that, 15 billion trees are chopped down every year from logging and deforestation, which is not to mention all the trees lost from increasing forest fires around the world.
Planting trees helps remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but it also does it lower than almost any other climate change solution proposed so far. Hundreds of organizations exist which allow average people to donate as little as $0.30 to plant a single tree.
Here’s a pro tip for you: If you have a home, plant deciduous trees (those where the leaves fall off each year) nearby. During the winter when the tree is leafless, sunlight is able to shine through and help warm your home. However, during the hotter months, the fully-leafed tree blocks out the sun to offer shade and lower cooling costs!
7) Pitch Your Idea
Ideas—we all have them. But, what do you do with them? If you keep them to yourself, they’re useless, soon to be forgotten. However, when shared, they have the potential to change the world.
Shared ideas have a great chance at becoming solutions, especially when pitched to the right people. Do you have an idea which could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower non-biodegradable waste, or prevent further climate change?
If so, pitch it on Goodwall!
As a community of over 1 million members in 150+ countries, ideas shared on Goodwall get the traction and visibility they deserve. On top of that, they get proper support from a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life. With that kind of audience, even a small climate action idea could change the world.
Want another reason to pitch your idea on Goodwall? Until December 31, 2019, we’re hosting a competition to gather your ideas. To take part, simply pitch a climate action idea as a 30-second video or a shared post on Goodwall. For every climate change-related idea posted, Goodwall will plant a tree (up to 5,000!).
Oh, and you stand to win $1000!
You read that right, each climate idea posted on Goodwall is automatically entered for the $1000 Good Idea Award. The most innovative and powerful ideas given as a 30-second video (like a modern elevator pitch) or post will be featured and promoted around Goodwall and on social media. Later, in January, the best idea will be announced at the Climathon Global Awards in Paris by Goodwall’s partner, Climate-KIC.
Ready to participate? Log on to Goodwall’s app from your mobile device (iOS and Android). Then, hit the “+” icon in the bottom menu and share a “post” or “idea” on climate action! For more information, here’s a guide on how to pitch an idea on Goodwall and why you should share ideas on Goodwall.