If the wacky weather we’ve been having, the suffering of endearing creatures, the possible cancellation of this year’s Polar Bear Club swims, or the catastrophic melting of Arctic ice has you hot and bothered, you’re not alone.
Though it’s easy to
cower in your basement wearing your duct tape bodysuit and motorcycle helmet feel defeated, here are 10 small things, and one really big thing, you can do to change the changin’ climate for the better:
- Sharing is caring. Sharing your
bedhome with others cuts back on energy use, as does living in a multi-unit dwelling, choosing a house sized to your needs, and, of course, choosing an energy-efficient home. Keeping proximity to work, school, the grocery store, and a good pubpublic transit line in mind is also important.
- Home is where the heat is, but you may be wasting it. You can perform your own energy audit to find places where you might inadvertently be letting energy slip through the cracks. Caulking your windows, buying energy-efficient appliances, and buying green energy are good ways to start.
- Let there be lighting. Swap your old light bulbs for compact fluorescents. They last 10 times longer, meaning fewer of them end up in landfills; use two-thirds less energy, meaning less carbon released into the atmosphere; and emit less heat than standard bulbs, so they’re safer and cooler. They cost a little more up front, but in the long run, they save you money and guilt — and they look funky! Hell, you could even do some renegade replacing around town while you’re at it.
- Car-ry me home. Carpool, bus, bike, or walk more often. You could even Segway to work. If you have to drive, choose a fuel-efficient vehicle, and maintain your car to get the best mileage possible. You can also share a car.
- Re, re, repeat after me: Reduce, reuse and recycle. But emphasize the first two — the third really just creates more crap.
- It’s in the bag. Use reusable bags for shopping, carrying your stuff around, and giving gifts. Paper or plastic? Neither!
- A market improvement. Eat local and/or organic whenever you can — local products weren’t shipped from somewhere on the other side of the planet, and organics are better for the land, and your health. Farmers’ markets, local grocers, and community supported agriculture programs (CSA’s) are convenient ways to shop smarter.
- Vegetate. Meat production consumes more resources — land, water, and oil — than production of vegetation for food, so eat less meat. Even one meat-free day a week helps.
- All the write moves. Write to your representatives. Whether you want to encourage them to support renewable-energy research, raise fuel-efficiency standards, limit greenhouse-gas emissions, or protect your local park, they need to hear from
taxpayerstheir constituents about what really matters. Find your representatives’ info here.
- One of us. One of us. Join, support, or otherwise help an organization working on environmental issues. There are lots of folks doing good work to stop climate change. The bigger the crowd, the better. One particularly punny, nonprofit online environmental magazine comes to mind.
Finally, and most importantly, tell everyone else what you’re doing, and why you’re concerned about climate change. Lifestyle changes are good, but mean little in light of the ginormous problem that is global warming. We need major social and political changes on the local, state, federal, and international levels, so step it up. Talk to your neighbors, parents, friends, lovers, colleagues, pets — anyone who might like to call this planet home a little longer.