Small Solutions to a Big Problem
Burning fossil fuels like natural gas, oil, coal, and gasoline increase the levels of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a major cause of global warming.
The enormity and magnitude of global warming can be frightening and disheartening. It has become an environmental and humanitarian crisis, a serious problem that requires immediate solution.
We don’t need to wait for governments to find solutions for this problem because we, as individuals, can help by making personal lifestyle changes that will help curtail carbon impact; starting from little, everyday things.
You might feel like your tiny carbon footprint and your personal lifestyle are nothing compared to things like “greenhouse gas emissions” or oil extraction, but the choices we make in our daily life actually play a vital role in slowing or reversing climate change. Perhaps this is the only reasonable way to save Mother Earth, before it’s too late.
So if you think climate change is a big problem to solve, think again. Not all things are right for everybody. Some you may already be doing, while others are simply too troublesome. But even the smallest changes can make a huge difference.
You can help lower our carbon emissions by following these climate and energy saving tips and advice:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce waste by choosing reusable products instead of disposable ones. Purchasing products with minimal packaging (or ones in economy size if it’s just enough for you) will greatly help reduce waste.
Whenever possible, you can recycle plastic materials, paper, glass, and aluminum cans. If your community, office, or school has not yet implemented a recycling program, you can take the initiative and ask about starting one.
In a year, you can save up to 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide simply by recycling half of your household waste.
The car you drive is perhaps one of the most important climate decisions you need to make. When buying a new car, you must look for the one with the best fuel economy in its class. Know that a gallon of gas is responsible for 25 pounds of heat-trapping gases in the planet’s atmosphere. Better gas mileage not only helps slow global warming, but also saves you thousands of dollars of fuel consumption. Additionally, consider upgrading your vehicle from 20 mpg to 40 mpg. This will save you about 4,500 gallons of gasoline over your car’s lifespan. That’s over $18,000 worth of total savings if you compute it according to today’s gas prices!
Less driving could also mean fewer gas emissions. So apart from saving gasoline, you can benefit from walking or biking. They’re great forms of exercise. Explore your community mass transit system, or check out options for carpooling when you head to school or work.
Cutting down on long-distance travel also helps, particularly airplane flights, which are fast becoming a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions and a major source that arguably releases such emissions in the worst possible area: higher in the atmosphere.
It goes without saying that air travel leaves behind a massive carbon footprint. So prior to booking your next flight, consider greener options like taking the bus or train. Restrict flying only to critical, long-distance trips. Try spending your vacation closer to home.
If you want to see friends and family, there are many options for you to do so, besides traveling. Consider staying in touch with them by video conferencing. This saves a whole lot of time and money on travel and accommodation.
Cut Your Expenses
One of the simplest ways to curtail greenhouse gas emissions is to buy less stuff. Whether by forgoing a new car or using an eco-friendly bag for your groceries, cutting back on consumption can result to fewer fossil fuels being burned to extract, produce, and ship products worldwide.
Think green before you spend money on something. For example, if buying a car is really a must, consider purchasing one that will last the longest and have the least environmental impacts. A second-hand vehicle with a hybrid engine offers superior fuel efficiency over the long run, while at the same time saving the environmental impact of new car manufacture.
On the other hand, buying essentials like groceries in bulk can help reduce the amount of packaging used, like the number of plastic wrapping, cardboard boxes, and other unnecessary materials. These are one of those times when buying more means consuming less.
Surprisingly, the food we eat accounts for a sizable portion of our emissions. However, choosing items that balance nutrition, taste, and ecological impact isn’t such an easy task. Many of the food we eat bear some nutritional information, but there’s little to reveal how far the food, for example, has traveled.
Researchers from the University of Chicago estimate that every meat-eating American produces about 1.5 tons more greenhouse gases through their choice of food than do vegetarians. Additionally, it takes far less land to grow crops than livestock, which allows more room for planting trees.
That said, if you want to make cuts, you need to reduce meat consumption, especially beef. Take note that a pound of beef is responsible for some 18 times the emission of a pound of pasta. If, for instance, there are four of you in your family and you cut your meat consumption in half, you could avoid roughly 3 tons of emissions each year.
Turn Off the Lights
You can also reduce global warming by saving electricity. Simple things like turning off the lights when you leave a room or using only as much light as you need can make a big difference. You get to save money, too!
So you’ve already turned off the lights – what’s next?
Consider changing the light bulbs in your home to more energy-saving LEDs or compact fluorescents. Also, don’t forget to unplug your TV, computer, stereo, air conditioner, or video player when they’re not in use. It’s also a good idea to turn off the water when you’re not using it. For example, while you’re brushing your teeth, shampooing or washing your car, turning off the water until you actually need it for rinsing will reduce your water bill and will help conserve a vital resource.
When buying new appliances, make sure to look for ones with the Energy Star® label. Additionally, you can opt to book a home energy audit to find even more ways to save energy. Don’t worry, it’s cheaper than you think.
Plant a Tree
A single tree can absorb roughly 1 ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime. If you have plenty of space in your yard and/or you have the means to plant a tree, start digging.
During photosynthesis, trees and other plants give off oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. They play a vital role on Earth’s natural atmospheric exchange cycle, but there are now too few of them to fully counter the steady increase in carbon dioxide caused by vehicular traffic, manufacturing, and other human activities.
Promote Energy Conservation
Encourage your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues to conserve. Share information about recycling and other ways that will help reduce the impacts of global warming. Find opportunities to encourage public officials to establish programs and policies that will help protect the environment.
Start with one thing, then convince another person to do it, as well. Reach out to those who don’t agree with you. Even the smallest of steps will take you a long way toward reducing energy consumption. Less energy use means less dependence on the fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming.
Act now and make a change!