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Twenty Feasible Personal Actions to Help Slow Climate Change

Individual choices can make a difference!

If you spend much time at all reading about climate change, or simply observing the changes in nature, year after year, I think it is impossible to avoid feeling deep concern about the future. Rising temperatures, increasing occurrence and intensity of storms and wildfires, and observable changes in plant and animal phenology and populations create in me a strong sense of foreboding.  All together, the environmental problems caused by rapid climate change can feel too heart-wrenching to even think about, and far too huge to ever solve.

To avoid sinking into despair or hopelessly giving up and tuning out, I often think of this admonition: “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little.”

It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845)

And each time I find a little something that I can do to reduce my contribution to climate change, and then actually do it, I find a bit of hope.  Sure, I know my actions alone won’t solve anything, but it definitely feels good to be doing anything to help change our current path towards an ecological disaster.  And I know that if enough of us change our actions, together we can make a difference.

With that in mind, I put together the following list of things I have done, or am doing, and which I think almost anyone can do to help. Small actions do add up. If enough of us work together, we can help to slow climate change, protect our beautiful planet, and hopefully ensure a better future for all of our own families, and everyone else’s too.

Reduce direct use of fossil fuels.

Reduce Electricity use – Save energy and money!

  • Turn off lights, computers, and other electricity powered devices when not in use.
  • Use power strips to prevent “vampire load” waste of electricity.
  • Switch lightbulbs to LED lights which use far less energy than incandescent bulbs.

Reduce Fuel Use for Heating/Cooling

  • Wear clothing appropriate to the weather (both inside and outside!)
  • Weatherstrip doors and windows.
  • Cover windows at night or when a room is not in use.

Reduce Fuels Use for Transportation

  • Reduce fossil-fuel powered travel. Avoid unnecessary trips.
  • Walk, use a bike, mass transit, or carpool/ride share whenever possible.
  • If you must or prefer to use a vehicle, switch to an EV (electric vehicle) or hybrid vehicle, if possible.

Reduce Generation of Greenhouse Gases Created Indirectly by Your Choices

Make Careful Food Choices

  1. Grow a garden and/or buy as much food as possible from local producers. (Participate in a Food Coop, buy from a Farmer’s Market, or shop in a grocery store that carries locally grown produce.)
  2. Choose organically grown produce,
  3. Reduce meat consumption and choose which meats you do eat with attention to the way the animals are raised.

Choose All Products With the Earth in Mind

  • Before buying, consider: Do I really need this? (If yes, could I borrow one, rent one, or buy a used one instead?)
  • Buy high quality products that are repairable and long-lasting, preferably made by a company that at least attempts to reduce environmental impacts of manufacturing.
  • Recycle everything possible.

Grow Native Plants

  • Native plants don’t require fertilizers or pesticides, or extra watering (once established)  They also provide food and habitat for pollinating insects, birds, and other wildlife.  Read more here.

Speak Up

  • Spend money with forethought – what you buy and where you buy IS a message to business owners.
  • Write/call companies and elected representatives to let them know your concerns about climate change. They will care when they know their customers and constituents care.
  • Support non-profits working to reduce climate change  (There are many effective organizations.  I personally support the following three because of their effective actions related to reducing climate change:
  • Vote FOR people at all levels of government who pay attention to, and understand, science, care about nature, and will work to promote and support solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow climate change

This list is not intended to be a complete list, simply a doable list of actions I believe anyone can take, whether you rent or own property, have a little money or a lot.  Perfection is not the goal, participation is!  Do what you can.  Strive to do a little more each day or week. Aim simply to be part of the solution and less a part of the problem.

And whenever you start to feel like doing something, or anything, just isn’t worth the trouble, try to remember the words of Stanley Smith:

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little.”

Together, we can make a difference.