The last year has demonstrated how much everyone is connected on this planet, and how significant one action can be in making a global impact. From a worldwide pandemic to climate disasters, these events highlight the urgency of slowing climate change and protecting the place where we all live. You may wonder, what can you do to help? The answer is, quite a lot.
To celebrate Earth Month and to ensure your actions matter, here are simple ways you can make a positive impact in the fight against climate change, right from the comfort of your own home. There's much more you can do every day beyond recycling and sorting your trash!
1. Feed yourself, and the planet
Consider how the food you eat — and where it comes from — impacts the planet. Eating locally-produced food helps support your community's economy and it saves on carbon emissions from shipping or importing food. That means eating more seasonal, sustainably grown food from local farms by buying from farmer’s markets or CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), or even by growing some of your own!
Do what you can to use and eat what you buy, cook or order. Rotting waste in landfills emits methane, and wasting less food also means reducing the resources used to transport food to stores, homes and businesses. And, be mindful of the plastic waste often associated with food packaging. Recycling has long been a top-of-mind solution for living in a more environmentally-friendly way, but it’s no longer enough! Consider the amount of materials that you’re tossing in the recycling bin and figure out a solution or alternative for those. It’s time to cut back on plastic consumption and prioritize reusable materials. Repurpose those leftovers, and save your kitchen scraps or veggies past their prime for your compost pile to help nourish your home garden.
2. Be a virtual climate activist
Use social media to share suggestions and ideas that you learn about sustainability — including purpose-driven brands you may buy from — and how to reduce carbon emissions. Counter disinformation with facts about how the world is impacted by climate change, and offer tools to help your friends and family join your efforts. Get involved in local social and political initiatives aimed at fighting disinformation and public apathy.
Rally your community to take action with you on social media, or download a Zoom background for your next video call to promote the cause. Get your whole company involved! Organizations like Cool Effect have created complimentary Earth Month toolkits to demonstrate your commitment and raise awareness in honor of Earth Day.
3. Rethink your shopping habits
Take a look at your buying habits and consider the impact of shipping for online purchases. Help reduce carbon emissions by cutting back on online shopping and instead shop locally. If you must shop online, consolidate your orders and group them in single shipments. Mostly, avoid overnight shipping which drastically increases carbon emissions because it is generally shipped via air rather than ground. Remember, too, that “fast fashion,” or cheaply made garments, contribute to the amount of fossil fuels burned to produce and ship those products around the globe.
4. Travel better
Most consumers and businesses have probably already reduced their carbon footprint by reducing travel. As COVID restrictions are lifted and we start to move around, consider easy ways to reduce your impact. Whenever possible, opt for video conferencing instead of traveling for in-person meetings. If we all take one less flight, the cumulative reduction will have a positive impact on the planet. When you do fly, choose airlines that use biofuels and consciously reduce waste from food and drinks. Pack only what you need because the heavier the plane, the more fuel it will burn. Try to take a nonstop flight as the majority of emissions happen during take-off and landing. If you travel by ground, consider public transportation or an electric vehicle.
5. Prioritize energy efficiency
See if the energy provider for your home or business offers 100% or other combinations of renewable energy. Other environmentally-friendly choices that can help save energy include installing solar energy panels for your home or business, making sure to turn off lights when leaving a room, unplugging appliances that are not in use, replacing old windows with energy-efficient alternatives, using less hot water, or swapping old lightbulbs for LEDs.
6. Support high quality offsets
No matter how much you reduce, some emissions are unavoidable. Consider offsetting them through an organization like Cool Effect, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing carbon emissions by allowing individuals and businesses to take measurable impact by purchasing scientifically verified carbon offsets from the world’s highest quality projects. Cool Effect returns over 90% of each donation directly to its project partners, helping its projects receive compensation for three million tonnes of emission reductions since 2015. Examples of projects supported by Cool Effect include:
- Community tree-planting in Africa that fights deforestation, drought and poverty
- Installing biogas digesters in rural China that decompose organic waste, turning it into clean fuel to replace the need to burn coal or wood
- Building improved cookstoves across rural Honduras that cut the amount of wood burned in half
- Planting and preserving mangrove forests in Myanmar that save shorelines and rejuvenate ocean ecosystems
The Cool Effect team has reviewed hundreds of carbon reduction projects since its launch, and after a rigorous vetting and selection process, around 15 projects are supported on the platform at any given time.