According to NASA, the current warming of the earth is roughly 10 times faster than the ice-age-recovery warming. Impacts of climate change can be felt all around the globe, from the rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions to shrinking ice sheets and decreased snow cover.
This change in temperature has huge and potentially catastrophic impacts on our societies, our way of life and even the survival of our species, as well as other inhabitants of the planet. Our cities and infrastructures, health, food security, water supply, transportation, and eco-systems could all be disrupted and even destroyed. Most experts now agree that the climate is changing and the Earth is getting warmer. The debate isn’t if it’s happening, it’s whether the change is being caused by humans.
Our Mother Earth has been nurturing us for thousands of years but now she’s suffering. At this stage, it doesn’t really matter who or what caused it, but rather what are we going to do about it?
It can seem overwhelming and impossible, but acquiring only a few green habits can make a world of difference!
Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
- Walk or use public transportation when possible.
- Buy local, organic, in-season, and fair trade when possible.
- Avoid plastic as much as possible. (Here’s a great guide.)
- Limit water use by turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, washing your hair, etc. (Here are some additional ways to reduce water consumption.)
- Bring your own container and bag and reuse them. You can use a refillable water bottle, straw, coffee cup, and other to-go containers at the market and restaurants.
- Eliminate or limit your consumption of meat and dairy products. Here’s why this is important.
- Compost if you have a yard and can do so safely.
- Go paperless as much as possible. (Examples: Think before you print something. Pay your bills online.)
- Remove yourself from junk mail lists.
- Turn off lights and unplug appliances when not in use.
- Replace your light bulbs with CFL ones. Be sure to recycle them properly once they’ve expired.
- Adjust your thermostat.
- Make your own eco-friendly cleaning products.
- Use degradable when possible (cotton buds, trash bags, etc.).
- Learn how to recycle correctly and then do it. (Here’s a guide to get you started.)
- Avoid plastic. Here’s a great guide.
- Use products with minimal packaging or packaging made with 100 percent post-consumer waste materials.
- Inflate your tires and keep your car well maintained.
- Support eco-friendly businesses.
- Become an advocate for the planet. Educate yourself, your friends, and family.
Whatever you do, don’t get overwhelmed. If you don’t know where to start, try the small stuff. When it comes to making small changes, I like to follow this simple rule: reduce, re-use, recycle when possible.
When purchasing a product, I ask myself the following questions:
- Do I really need this product?
- If yes, can I make it myself?
- If not, is there an eco-friendly option? (e.g., Can it be re-used and ultimately recycled?)
The bonus is that when we take care of the planet, we benefit ourselves. Eco-friendly options are generally better for our health, our wallet and the animals with whom we share this planet.
If you’re ready to make a big change…
- Buy an electric, hybrid, or at least a fuel-efficient car.
- Plant a garden or trees. Here are some tips on how to plant a sustainable garden.
- Buy energy efficient appliances.
- Install solar panels. Be sure to use a company that strives to have less of an impact on the environment as producing solar panels requires a lot of resources and can produce a lot of waste.
- Get involved with local organizations, donate, vote, and hold your representatives accountable. Remember you vote with your wallet every time you make a purchase.
Sometimes eco-friendly options can cost a little more monetarily, but when you compare it to the cost of healthcare and environmental clean-up efforts, it just makes sense.
Don’t Get Discouraged!
The idea is to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be conscious and kind.
I stopped eating meat 20 years ago but it took me another 15 years to transition to a full vegan lifestyle and I still cheat and eat cheese occasionally. It also took me 10 years to master the art of recycling properly and that’s ok. In fact, I’m really proud of the changes that I’ve made and now I focus on consuming less of the products that can have a negative impact on the planet and it’s easier than I thought it would be! It’s about making small changes and steady progress—and more importantly, it’s about caring.
I truly believe that we can do this! We can overcome climate change or at least slow it down by making small and big adjustments that will ultimately benefit not just our planet, but also our health and wellbeing. We are all connected to Mother Earth. We are all her children. All you have to do is to lie down on the earth or hug a tree to feel this connection.
There is no Planet B. We are all linked to Mother Earth and her future is our future. It’s time that we take care of her so that she can continue nurturing us and our children.
“You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer.” - Thich Nhat Hanh