There’s no way that we still think of global warming as something that will happen in the future. It is happening today. Extreme weather events are becoming more and more frequent. This situation can bring some anxiety and make us question ourselves: what can we do to help?
How can we start today?
Fortunately, you can. It is much simpler than you think. In this article, I will present ten effortless actions you can start doing today to help stop global warming.
Each action taken as an individual will have an impact on society as a whole.
It is important to understand that your actions have value and that you can make a positive change.
1. Save Energy At Home & The Office
Energy is one of the primary sources of CO2 emissions that cause global warming.
Energy use in residential buildings is responsible for 10.9% of all global CO2 emissions.
On the other side, energy use in commercial buildings is responsible for 6.6% of global CO2 emissions.
So whether you’re at home or the office, you can help to stop global warming by taking these simple actions:
Don’t leave on unnecessary lights and make use of natural light when available.
Turn off electronic devices when you are not using them.
Turn on the air conditioning and heating devices only when necessary.
Create a green space and bring in a variety of plants to your office space (they remove carbon dioxide and generate an oxygen-rich environment).
The internet requires data centers that could account for up to 14% of carbon emissions by 2040. This is such a concern that many web hosts now specialize in providing eco-friendly and carbon-neutral hosting. This is a great way to start making a difference at home or in the office.
2. Avoid Dry Cleaning
Drying machines are enormous energy consumers. It is estimated that your dryer emits more than a ton of carbon dioxide per year!
They use 5 to 10 times more energy than washing machines. This is because they suck in air, heat it to evaporate water from the humid clothes and then vent it outside.
This means that if there is no way you can stop using your dryer, pre-drying your clothes is also an energy-saving option. If you could hang them on your clothesline, the planet will thank you immensely.
3. Eat More Vegetarian & Vegan Meals
After energy use, food is the second most significant source of CO2 emissions.
The carbon footprint of our food is and it's something we can improve on by simply swapping out a few ingredients. significant
The carbon footprint of plant-based diets is much smaller than that of animal-based diets. By adding in more vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes you can drastically reduce your environmental impact per meal.
According to research:
Agriculture - together with forestry - accounts for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock rearing contributes to global warming through the methane gas the animals produce, but also via deforestation to expand pastures.
- Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst, Geneva.
A plant-based diet is the way to fight climate change. There is no better time to make the change. Whilst the vegan movement is growing in popularity - it is essential to be reminded that this is not a 'diet' but a lifestyle.
Once you start embracing the philosophy surrounding being a vegan or obtaining from animal products you will be on your way to a deeper understanding of how everything is connected.
4. Avoid Single-Use Plastic Packaging
The thing about the packaging is that it is not until you stop using it that you realise how unnecessary it was. When we go to purchase our groceries, we use plastic bags because they are convenient. In fact, in our modern lives, it has become part of us. Of course, you can buy the same stuff you do now, but plenty of stores allow you to carry them in your reusable bag.
Most types of packaging are made out of single-use plastic. Plastic bags are usually lightweight, and as such, they can travel very long distances by either water or wind. They are now everywhere we go and are ruining marine life and threatening species.
According to Conserve Energy Future:
Most of the plastic is made of polypropylene, which is a material manufactured from petroleum and natural gas. All of the materials are non-renewable fossil fuel-based materials, and through their extraction and even production, greenhouse gases are created, which further contribute to global climate change.
5. Drive Less & Walk More
As we all know, most of the cars around the world are fueled by fossil fuels.
Electric vehicles are not, since they are charged with electricity.
However, the electricity used to charge them is very likely to come from fossil fuels too.
Having said this, driving less or sharing trips is a great option to reduce your daily CO2 emissions. But, of course, you can also use public transport or bike! Bicycling and walking are both zero emission ways to get from place to place and will have a positive impact compared to a car trip.
6. Reduce Waste Generation
Waste is almost inevitable. We produce food waste, plastic waste, electronic waste, and so on.
It is estimated that, on average, each person in the U.S. produces 2.2kg of waste per day (4.9 pounds). No matter how much the recycling industry grows, most of this waste will end up in landfills. It is just too much.
Landfills are anaerobic cells where all our waste is compressed and stored. And a sub-product of the anaerobic degradation of waste is methane. So yes, greenhouse gases are generated in landfills too.
So by reducing your waste generation, you can say you are part of this selected group of people that are helping reduce global warming.
7. Bring Your Own Shopping Bag
Shopping bags are everywhere. Clothing stores, supermarkets, electronic shops, bookstores. We receive shopping bags around, even for a single item.
Just carry your shopping bag with you wherever you go. And practice with me: no bag please, thank you.
8. Learn To Compost
Composting is a great way to reduce our waste production.
Food waste accounts for 44% of our total waste volume generation.
The minute you start composting, you are cutting almost by half your waste generation.
Just think about this: if we all started composting tomorrow, we would only need half of the garbage trucks we use today. I think it’s an excellent action you can do for the planet.
9. Save Water
Water comes to our houses or buildings through water pumps. When we use water chilled, it needs to be heated first. And after we use it, the effluent goes to a water treatment plant.
All of these processes use energy.
By reducing how much water you use, not only you are reducing your water footprint but also your carbon footprint.
A few ways to reduce water right away:
Take shorter showers
Minimise the use of the laundry machine (wash full load only)
Minimise the use of the dishwasher (wash full load only)
Update any appliances and check for leaks or broken taps
Turn off the sprinkler and try plants that require less water
Be mindful of your water use
10. Inspire Others
One of the most important actions here. It is so essential that you help pass on this message. And you don’t need to create a sustainable Instagram account to do this.
You can talk to your parents, friends, family or even to that waitress when they ask you why don’t you want a plastic straw in your smoothie.
There are so many ways we can help and be a part of this transition. The best part is you don’t have to pick only one.
Reducing your carbon footprint does not have to be complicated. As we have seen, a few simple swaps are all it takes to begin your eco-friendly journey. Enjoy walking to work, cooking healthy plant-based meals with your friends, sharing the message with your family, be mindful of your consumption; this lifetyle is more about progress than perfection.
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About The Writer
Belén Silva is a Chemical engineer from Argentina. She started her freelance writing and environmental consulting career after working for many years in the automotive industry as an environmental engineer. In addition, she has a personal project of environmental communications that includes a blog, an Instagram account and a Youtube channel. You can read more from her on her website Idonella.