impact-climate-change-paris-agreement

President Donald Trump announced on June 1 that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the U.N.-backed Paris climate accords, much to the dismay and shock of many Americans. The Paris agreement is global pact to fight climate change by limiting carbon emissions, adopting clean energy practices, and phasing out fossil fuels. Climate change is an issue that effects every person on the planet and is something that cannot be ignored. The world is changing, the climate is changing, and we are running out of resources. If something is not done to stop this, it will have catastrophic results. But Trump isn’t the only person with the power to impact climate change. Every person as an individual can have an impact and make a difference. The differences will be small, yes, especially when compared to big business, but with enough voices and enough people implementing a more eco-friendly lifestyle, the message will trickle upwards. Big businesses listen to money and if the world isn’t buying their climate-killing products anymore, they will be forced to change and adapt or die in the process.

Here are a few things that the everyday person can do to make an impact on the climate and the world:

  1. Be As Energy Efficient As Possible

    This means:

    • turning off lights when you leave a room
    • unplugging appliances such as toasters, computers, coffee makers etc. when they aren’t in use
    • changing your light bulbs to LED lights
    • washing your clothes in cold water
    • hang dry clothing whenever possible
    • install a programmable thermostat that lowers the heat/ac at night when sleeping. Then only lower/raise your thermostat by 2 degrees in the summer/winter.
    • make sure your windows are double glazed and that there are no air leaks
  2. Recycle!

    Be extra picky and conscious about what you put in your trash. If it can be recycled, take the extra 10seconds to rinse out the container and add it to the recycle bin. Make sure you are aware of what can be recycled and not based on your area. If your apartment or home doesn’t offer recycling, collect recyclable items and recycle them yourself. With a little research, you can find a place near you that will recycle just about anything. You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling 1/2 of the waste your household generate.

  3. Invest In Renewable power

    When it comes time to vote or make decisions for your community, opt for the renewable resource option such as wind farms and solar panels. If your utility company as an option to use renewable energy sources, urge them to do so. If you own a home or a condo, invest in solar panels to power much of your home’s energy needs.

  4. Green Your Commute

    The easiest way to do this is to carpool! Find a co-worker that lives near you and share your ride together. If there’s no one to carpool with, invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle for your next car. If that’s not an option for you, look into public transportation. A lot of public vehicles are now energy efficient hybrids. Or depending on how far you are from work, consider riding a bike or other man-powered form of transportation to get you to work. You may not be able to do this on days when you have a big important meeting, but for all the rest, find ways to cut down on your carbon footprint.

  5. Switch To A Plant-Based Diet

    Photo Credit: National Geographic

    Some of the biggest polluters of our environment are livestock farms. The amount of resources used to create one pound of meat is staggering, not to mention to ridiculous emissions that are released from the animals. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is more than 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period (Environmental Protection Agency). 55% of methane emissions come from beef cattle, which is approximately 250 to 500 liters of methane per day. Stop eating meat = less demand for beef cattle. Less demand = less cattle = less methane pollutants.

    “Humans’ endless consumption of one thing, especially in our country, is the single leading cause of destruction of our planet – and that one thing is our desire for animal products. Virtually every environmental and health disaster we have today is caused by our unnecessary reliance on animal products. “Climate change. Ocean dead zones. Fisheries depletion. Species extinction. Deforestation. World hunger. Food safety. Heart disease. Obesity. Diabetes. The list goes on. There is one issue at the heart of all these global problems” [Stanford Environmental Law Journal, October 2015]
  6. Move Your Fridge and Freezer

    Make sure they are free standing and away from other heat causing appliances. Having them next to the stove or other heat-generating appliance consumes much more energy than if they were standing on their own.

  7. Buy Refills, Reusable Bags, and Shop Intelligently

    We generate a lot of waste in our packaging. Buy products that come in smaller packages with less excess. It uses less energy to create one 2Lt bottle than 4 smaller 1/2 ltr bottles – and also generates less waste. Buy products that allow you the option for purchasing refills in the future rather than re-purchasing the entire product. Don’t forget your reusable bags! Stop using paper or plastic bags and invest in canvas bags that you take with you every time you shop.

  8. Buy Locally Grown Organic Fresh Food

    It costs a lot more in energy to ship a product to you from across the country than it does to pick it up from a local merchant. You also help support your local economy and small merchants rather than big business conglomerates. Shop organically because not only is it healthier for you, but organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If all corn and soybeans were grown organically, we’d remove 580 billion lbs of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere! Buy fresh instead of frozen because frozen foods require 10 times more energy to make than fresh foods.

  9. Install A Water Saving Showerhead and Flushing System

    Especially in 4 person households, 4 showers per day and many toilette flushes adds up to a lot of water waste! Install a water saving shower head on your shower which will cut down on the amount of water used for each shower. Not only is it more energy efficient, but it will also save you $$$ on your water bill. Do the same for toilettes. You can buy an add-on water saving system that allows for a half-flush or full-flush for your toilette, saving you water and $$$ year round. Also implementing the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule will save water on flushes as well.

  10. Know Who You’re Giving Your Money To

    Don’t be just another dumb consumer. Pay attention to where you get your food, where you buy your home goods, and the companies that supply them. Spend your dollars wisely. It takes a little extra effort, but once it’s done, there’s no need to do it again. Only buy from companies that are taking steps to be more energy efficient. If that means spending a few extra dollars, so be it. A few extra bucks is well worth the message to big businesses that you want to make a change to improve our planet.

There are many many more things that you can do beyond this simple list. There is an exhaustive longer list with over 50 things you can do available here. Some of these things may seem difficult or inconvenient to do at first, but it’s a process. Most people will not implement all of these changes over night. Just like we learn to walk one step at a time and by falling down and getting up a lot, so can everyone learn to be more environmentally conscious.

If you’re looking for a more political approach, here is a list of ways you can take action on a grass-roots level.

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