Almost every day it seems like there’s a new story about our planet and climate change. The Earth’s climate is changing at a dangerous pace and the effects are all around us, from the wildfires in California to increased flooding in Indonesia. It often feels like there’s nothing individuals can do to stop it, but there are some ways to slow climate change. Now is not the moment to despair, but to act as individuals as well as communities.
While larger industries have caused the majority of adverse climate effects, it doesn’t mean you can’t play a role in the effects’ reversal. From grocery shopping to energy, here are 9 things you can do today to prevent climate change.
Tip 1: Don’t waste food
A third of all food in the United States gets wasted. In fact, food waste has a bigger carbon footprint than the airline industry. What you buy at the grocery store and how much food you’re throwing away could have a direct impact on climate change.
Here are a couple food waste prevention strategies to get you started:
- Use your freezer to keep food edible for much longer
- Plan out your meals and only buy what’s needed
- Don’t throw away leftovers–use them in other dishes or having servings of a favorite leftover another night
- If fruits and veggies are starting to go bad, chop and freeze them to use in a smoothie later
Tip 2: Buy local foods
Similar to starting a garden, shopping local is a great way to cut down on the environmental harms of industrial agriculture. When you shop local, your food tastes fresher and you decrease the shipping costs and energy expended on food transportation.
A farmer’s market is a great place to shop for local produce and more. It could be a good idea to check if your city or town has one.
Tip 3: Eating a plant-based diet
Along with eating more beans, a plant-based diet is another great option. A plant-based diet can mean cutting out all animal products, but there’s many variations which still allow for seafood and poultry. Flexitarians, for example, still eat meat occasionally but try to make sure the majority of their meals are meatless, and pescatarians eat seafood only.
If you’re not ready to take the leap into a stricter diet, you can try meatless Mondays or another way to limit your meat intake and increase the number of plant-based foods on your plate.
Tip 4: Use less plastic
Plastic waste has been so bad recently, trash in the ocean recently caught on fire. Plastic has become commonplace in so many aspects of our lives, from the bags we take to the grocery stores to the straws we use at restaurants.
Luckily, there are some easy ways to reduce your plastic use, such as:
- Bring reusable grocery bags to the store
- Buy reusable lunch and snack containers instead of packing food in plastic bags
- Swap out plastic straws for reusable ones
- Buy in bulk to reduce waste
Tip 5: Start a garden and grow your own food
Food waste isn’t only prevalent in the home, but within the food industry. Chemicals which can harm the Earth (and your body) are present in many industrial agriculture practices. To offset the negative impacts of industrial agriculture on the planet, you can opt to grow your own food at home.
The best part? You don’t have to have a green thumb to get started. Having one tomato plant can decrease your impact on the environment. Even a houseplant or small garden which doesn’t produce food can help increase oxygen levels for both you and the Earth.
Tip 6: Weatherizing your house
Leaks around doors and windows can bring up energy costs which can hurt your wallet and increase your carbon footprint. Be sure your home has proper insulation by weatherizing your home.
A good first step is to check if your power provider offers a household “energy audit.”
Tip 7: Add more beans to your diet
Beans are a terrific example of a healthful food that provides what foodies call “sustainable nutrition.” When you swap meat for this affordable and protein-rich food, you help mitigate the effects of climate change. Choose a few of your favorite beans, add a healthy grain, and you have a dish filled with protein and nutrients without taxing the farmlands already suffering under the stress of the meat industry.
Beyond canned, ready-to-use beans, you can choose from a wide array of dry beans, a subgroup of legumes and pulses (an edible seed that comes from the legume plant) that are “climate-smart.” By this we mean that they simultaneously adapt to varying climates and use less water compared to many other protein sources.
Dry beans also require less fertilizer and promote biodiversity, all of which plays a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Check out my classic split soup or my curried lentil soup recipe to start utilizing this food group that’s good for you and the planet.
Tip 8: Use renewable energy
If you live in an area where it’s accessible, opt for solar power, wind power, or hydropower to reduce your carbon footprint. In some areas, there’s even a tax benefit to installing reusable energy.
Tip 9: Practice everyday awe
As odd as this one might sound at first, experiencing everyday awe, especially when in nature, can help. By listening to birds sing, appreciating the beauty of a flower, or tending to a houseplant, you are creating a closer connection to nature.
Even if it’s a quick nature dose, these experiences can make you want to preserve and protect biodiversity, not to mention improve your mood and self-esteem. If you want to see if you are spending enough time in nature to help yourself and the planet, take my free quiz.
These nine tips are just the tip of climate change prevention. Check out 8 more ways you can help the Earth or sign up for my weekly newsletter. My weekly newsletter sends you tips, resources, and more to live in a way which is healthy for you and the environment.