BEYOND THE GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE : WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE TODAY?
Updated: Feb 12
On Friday, September 27, 2019 millions of students, parents, retailers and concerned citizens of the world will take to the streets for a second time in just over a week (an estimated 4 million protesters took part on September 20th, making it the largest climate related protest in history) to protest climate change and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels. These protests were inspired by young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg's #fridaysforfuture movement (read more here).
School districts and universities across the world have excused students from class this day to enable their participation in the event, and a handful of retailers have decided to close for at least part of the day in support of the movement.
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Climate change is a real and serious issue and today's youth are the ones who have the most to lose, whether they know it and want to enable change, or just want a day off school. Not only do these protests put pressure on governments around the world to make sustainable changes to better protect the planet, they raise awareness of the urgent issue of climate change.
While I 100% support the movement, I can't help but question how many of those participating in the protests have thought much about their own impact on climate change. So often we put the onus on the government to make changes without considering how our own lifestyle, habits and actions may also contribute to the problem.
How many people attending the protests do you think...
Traveled there by car?
Grabbed a coffee in a disposable cup?
Took to social media on their brand new iPhone 11?
Stopped for lunch at a fast food restaurant?
Ate or wore an animal product?
Drank out of a disposable water bottle?
Discarded recyclable material in the garbage?
Smoked at least 1 cigarette?
Challenging governments to make policy changes that will benefit the planet is important, however each one of us also needs to take a closer look at our current lifestyle, habits and actions that contribute to climate change. One person making one small change might not seem like it will have an impact, however if 1 million people were to make the same small change the impact would be considerable.
So what can YOU do today to reduce your environmental impact and help reverse climate change?
1. Consume Less Meat
Animal agriculture and its byproducts are considered by many to be the #1 contributor to climate change, secondary to fossil fuels. Going vegan, or at least significantly reducing your meat consumption, is the single best way you can help put an end to climate change. According to conspiracy.com, livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions.
If you are 19 or older, check out the platforms of each political party (Canada's federal election is October 21, 2019) and vote for the party you believe will do the most to support the environment and help reverse the damaging effects of greenhouse gasses and climate change.
3. Reduce Your Energy Consumption
Turn off the lights when you leave a room, unplug unused appliances, don't leave the TV on, use cold water for laundry, reduce the temperature on your hot water tank, only run your washing machine or dishwasher once they are full, hang your clothes to dry, use energy efficient lightbulbs, turn off your heat/AC when you are not home and open your blinds during the day for natural light. Making a habit of doing at least some of these things consistently will make an impact, and could also save you hundreds of dollars each year. For more more useful tips check out www.powersmart.ca.
4. Conserve Water
Take shorter or less frequent showers, use a water saving shower head, reduce your water pressure, compost food scraps instead of using the garburator, run your washing machine and dishwasher less often, turn off the tap when shaving or brushing your teeth, check your toilets for leaks, monitor your outdoor watering and try to utilize grey and collected rain water whenever possible.
5. Produce Less Waste
Make it a habit to bring your own cup, container, bag, etc. Check out these 8 Simple BYO Options to Waste Less for easy tips.
6. Recycle Better
Educate yourself on what can and can't be recycled and how to make your recycling efforts count. For more information check out these 12 Simple Ways to Up Your Recycling Game.
7. Shop Local
Shipping stuff around the world burns significant amounts of fossil fuels. By purchasing items made in countries such as China you are supporting the use of the same fossil fuels being protested. Whenever possible purchase food, clothing, household goods and other items made closer to home to reduce your environmental impact.
8. Leave Your Car at Home
Unless you are driving a 100% electric car, you are burning fossil fuels with every trip. You don't need to get rid of your car, but consider whether you could at least sometimes walk, bike, scooter, transit or carpool instead. Also, when you do need to drive, take a minute to plan out your trip to reduce your time on the road, avoid sitting in traffic and ensure you hit all your stops in 1 trip (vs. 2 or 3).
9. Live with Less
Nope, you don't need the newest and coolest technology (the average lifespan of an iPhone is over 4 years, despite new ones being released annually), an overflowing closet of clothes you don't wear, 25+ pairs of shoes, cupboards stuffed full of kitchen gadgets you rarely use, more cars than family members or a mini toy shop in your basement. Stuff is not the key to happiness. In fact, as much as 99% of stuff we purchase becomes trash within 6 months. Yikes.
10. Buy Secondhand
Secondhand stores are full of awesome one of a kind vintage scores at a fraction of the price AND environmental impact. You can also score some awesome used stuff on Craigslist, Kijiji, Varagesale and Facebook.
11. Go Green When You Clean
Most cleaning products on the market contain a slew of hazardous chemicals that are not only bad for our health (hello cancer), but also make their way into the environment with each use. A quick google search for DIY cleaning products will yield hundreds of results for solutions that require as few as 1 ingredient and do the same if not a better job. A win-win.
So please do attend the protests and show our government that you care and want something done about climate change, but don't forget to pay attention to your own environmental footprint and the impact you might be having on climate change. There is no Planet B.
“If we pollute the air, water and soil that keep us alive and well, and destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us.” – David Suzuki
Wanting to change and actually taking the step and making permanent changes can be two very different things. To start, pick one thing you want to do and turn it into a goal. Once it has become routine/habit go back and set additional goals.