When we think of climate change and its effects like recent disasters taking place around our planet, we might feel like there’s not much we can do about it and that it’s an irreversible situation. This could not be further from the truth. Individual contributions are fundamental when it comes to slowing down the advance of global warming. So, here are a few thoughts on how each of us can contribute to environmental sustainability.
Eat Less Meat
Everyone from Hollywood actors to acclaimed sports figures, are practicing veganism. The extent to which a vegan diet is sustainable is unquestionable: A study by the EWG found that red meat like beef and lamb produce 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as vegetables and grains.
Growing grain to feed livestock takes up large swathes of land (four fifths of the deforestation in the Amazon is for beef farming) and utilizes 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer in the US annually. Add to that the water needed to sustain and process these animals, and we are left with the logical conclusion that a plant-based diet has fewer negative repercussions. Even cutting out one meat meal a week can have a profound effect on the planet.
Use Less Energy
Another way in which we can contribute to sustainability is by controlling energy consumption in our households. Either by installing energy-efficient appliances, running on solar energy, using less heating or air conditioning, replacing regular bulbs with LEDs. Changing just the five lights you use most will save you $75 a year. Turning off your appliances when not in use can cut your energy bill by 10%.
If we stop wasting energy — like a dryer for our clothes when it’s sunny outside or the dishwasher for two dishes — we will increasingly change our habits and help reduce energy-related environmental effects.
Speaking of laundry, 90% of the energy you use in a normal wash goes to heating your water, so switching to a cold wash makes for a more efficient wash. If you must use a dryer, add a towel to reduce drying time.
This fall, have your furnace serviced or do it yourself so it runs more efficiently. Reduce your energy consumption by up to $50 when you change your HVAC filters regularly.
Another easy way in which we can do our share is by walking. The more walk to get from one place to the other instead of using our cars, the more we contribute to reducing pollution. Moreover, it is a healthier habit, and if we need to get somewhere faster, bikes are another environmentally-friendly option. Even trains and buses are better than cars, and if everyone chose these options over the latter, traffic would be avoided and stress levels would certainly decrease.
Ride sharing is a growing movement to reduce pollution and save money. There are apps which can help you find a carpool to work, rideshare on long trips and liaise with friends and family when going to events.
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