Take control of your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and demand decision-makers lead climate action with these tips.
1. Speak truth to power.
Lobby your local, state and national government representatives to support policies that mitigate climate change.
2. Support climate action organisations.
Support groups to take action on your behalf or by volunteering with them. There are 70+ local and national non-government organisations working on climate action in Australia such as the AYCC, SEED, Stop Adani, Sunshine Coast Environment Council, 1 Million Women, Beyond Zero Emissions, Fossil Free, Climate Action Network, Climate Council, Market Forces, 350.org and The Australia Institute.
3. Research the companies you buy from.
If they aren’t reducing greenhouse gases themselves and supporting action on climate change, switch to a company that is. Choose a bank and superannuation fund that doesn’t support lending to fossil fuel projects.
4. Choose foods that are local, organic and low on the food chain whenever possible.
Make the most of seasonal foods. Purchasing foods that are both in season and grown locally can drastically cut down the carbon emissions of the vehicles used to transport your out-of-season fruit across the country. According to the Worldwatch Institute, food travels 1,500 miles on average between the farm and the supermarket.
5. Plant a garden.
Plant some bee-friendly flowers, a few trees, or a vegetable garden. A single young tree absorbs 13 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. That amount will climb up to 48 pounds annually as trees mature. Balcony gardensare great for urban dwellings. Urban areas tend to be hotter than rural areas because of vast pavement, concrete buildings, and increased human activity. Creating more spaces for plants can mitigate this effect and lead to better cooling, which will be a necessity with worsening climate change. Help avoid the “heat island” effect by planting trees for shade, or maybe try a green roof or community garden.
6. Eat less meat.
The single most effective action you can take to combat climate change is to stop eating meat. Just limiting your meat consumption can make a huge difference. Greenhouse gas emissions from agribusiness are an even bigger problem than fossil fuels. So while we often talk about cutting our reliance on fossil fuels – and this is still critically important – we rarely discuss the worst culprit. Red meat is particularly to blame, consuming 11 times more water and producing 5 times more emissions than its poultry counterparts.
7. Embrace a minimalist lifestyle.
Consider the global impact of acquiring more stuff. One study found that a big share of China’s pollution was associated with goods manufactured for export to other countries, like Australia. Declutter your home and donate unneeded items to charity.
8. Buy recycled and re-use anything you can!
Save and reuse plastic containers, jars, zip lock bags, bread bags and bottles. You can use these to buy refills instead of new products. Minimise purchases of new products, especially resource-intensive, heavy or heavily-packaged products. If you have to buy something, try to get it second-hand first. Buy, borrow or rent used clothing, electronics, house decorations and furniture, cars and other products whenever possible.
9. Bring your own bags and buy in bulk
when possible to reduce packaging. Choose a hand bag that you can double for a shopping bag if you forget your reuseable bags.
10. Refill your water bottle.
Driving up demand for water bottled in plastic means doing the same for fossil fuels. If you live in most western countries, tap water is perfectly suitable for consumption.
11. Drive less.
Walk, bike, carpool or take transit to get to one of your regular destinations each week.
12. Fly less.
Learn about the impacts of air travel and consider vacationing close to home. Replace your business flight travel with conference calls and other forms of communication, where possible. Buying carbon offsets is another option, if you must fly.
13. Live close to work or school.
Choose a home within a 30-minute bike, walk or transit ride from your daily destinations. A convenient place to live reduces the amount you drive, which means you’ll lower your greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
14. Maximise fuel efficiency
by keeping tires inflated, driving gently, and keeping your boot free of excess weight. Check the ratings for the next car you intend to buy and save on fuel with an electric, hybrid, or super fuel-efficient car.
15. Choose low energy-intensive activities
such as hiking over sky diving, kayaking rather than powerboats, and electric instead of fuel-powered equipment.
16. Choose green hotels and encourage hotels you visit to green their practices
or stay at a friends’ place or Air BnB instead.
17. Reduce your home cooling and electricity use.
A more energy-efficient home will lower your utility bills and reduce the emissions that cause climate change. Avoid using air-conditioning as much as possible, turn your thermostat up in warm months and down in cold ones, and turn off when you’re not home. Similarly, keep your curtains open during the day in the winter to let in sunlight, and close them at night to keep in warmth. During the summer, close the curtains during the day to keep out extra sunlight and open them at night to moderate the temperature or let in a cool breeze.
18. Unplug your devices.
Anytime a cord is plugged into a socket, it’s drawing energy – so although your device isn’t charging, you’re still contributing to your carbon footprint. Reduce standby power consumption by taking the zero-volt challenge.
19. Choose energy-efficient appliances.
New refrigerators, for example, use 40 per cent less energy than models made just 10 years ago.
20. Choose a laptop over a desktop.
Laptops, unlike desktop computers, are designed to be energy-efficient, because battery life is a major factor to laptop design. According to Energy Star, a laptop can be up to 80% more energy-efficient than a desktop.
21. Make sure your lighting is efficient.
LED light bulbs generally use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents, and they last longer. (Here’s why CFLs, on the other hand, are falling out of favour.)
22. Use cold water for washing clothes, then line-dry them.
One dryer load uses 5 times more electricity than washing – by simply line-drying your clothes, you can save 1/3 of their carbon footprint.
23. Switch to a renewable energy source with your electricity provider
or consider getting solar panels for your home.
24. Waste less.
Avoid plastic. Recycle as much as possible, even when travelling, and buy products with recycle-able/minimal packaging. Search online for ways to recycle hard-to-recycle items in your local community. Composting all organic waste will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfills.
25. Choose e-mail and say no to Junk Mail.
Junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 2.8 million cars. Many service providers and local utilities now offer paperless/email invoicing.
26. Don’t Buy “Fast Fashion”.
Many major clothing retailers practice what is known as “fast fashion” – selling an endless cycle of must-have trends at extremely low prices. Read the label and consider the environmental impact of cheap clothing from overseas, from the physical act of shipping a product across the ocean, to the chemical runoff from garment factories. Try alternatives like re-purposing old clothing, choosing locally handmade garments, buying vintage, or participating in clothing swaps with family and friends.
27. Support organisations that educate, protect and empower girls and women
28. Learn more about climate change
and share what you learn with others.
29. Be kind and set a good example for others
When sharing your tips with others, be mindful to communicate from a loving and understanding place, taking care not to scare or guilt trip anyone.
30. Help others come to terms and cope with the profound implications of climate change
So that they can stay engaged with the problem, see where their own behaviour plays a part, and participate in speedy societal change to restore a safe climate. See tips on how to do this from the Australian Psychology Society.