10 Ways We Can Help to Stop Global Warming
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by our planet’s climate crisis. News about catastrophic flooding, sea-level rise, and super-charged storms and wildfires can induce what’s known as eco-anxiety and depression or “apocalypse fatigue,” which makes it hard to know where to start, even if you feel ready to take action.
While we will need large-scale societal changes, the choices we make every day can make a difference for the planet and inspire grassroots climate action. We don’t need to completely change how we live to have an impact—gradually incorporating new habits will put us on a path to a more sustainable, healthier lifestyle.
In light of this, here are ten ways you can make a meaningful difference to help address our climate crisis.
1) Fly Less
Avoiding one or more long plane flights per year is one of the highest-impact actions you can take to reduce your personal carbon footprint, according to a 2017 report by Seth Wynes and Kimberly Nicholas. This is especially true for overseas flights—skipping a roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to London cuts nearly an entire metric ton of greenhouse gas emissions from your footprint.
Planes emit high levels of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, black carbon, and sulfur dioxide that contribute to warming, pollution, and acid rain. Some airlines are developing solar plane technology or incorporating efficiency-measures like biofuels, but in the meantime, it’s important to think about how often you fly.
2) Try a Car-Free Day or Week
While it’s ideal to live without a car, it’s not always practical. Trying out a car-free day every week or a car-free week per month can be a good way to reduce your carbon footprint, get exercise, save money, and envision how you can progress towards a car-free lifestyle.
Many cities around the world organize their own car-free events and offer incentives for participants, including Washington D.C., Portland, New York, and Bogotá. You could organize an event yourself or try it out and tell your friends about it!
3) Incorporate Plant-based Meals into Your Diet
Eating more plant-based meals will reduce your carbon footprint, save money, and improve your health. Making just half of your meals from plant-based foods cuts your agriculture-related greenhouse gas footprint by 45 percent. Trying out a new plant-based recipe every week can be a fun way to incorporate this into your normal routine.
When you do eat animal proteins, try to make conscious choices. Some animal proteins are better than others—beef is the most greenhouse-gas intensive food because cows emit methane. Locally sourced fish, eggs, or poultry are better alternatives.
There are great innovations in the plant-based protein world like the Impossible Burger that can fill your craving for a burger. Alternatively, you could look for beef from ranches practicing silvopasture or feeding their cows seaweed, which greatly reduces the emissions generated from farming and can even help sequester carbon.
4) Vote Green
Support candidates in local, state, and federal elections that prioritize the environment. It’s especially important to get involved at the local and state level, where environmental policies and protections can be implemented or upheld, regardless of what happens at the federal level.
Learn if there’s an election coming up in your city or town, keep track of election days, and get to know the candidates who are running. Check if your state has any environment or renewable-energy related ballot measures and consider campaigning for them.
Being an engaged and educated voter is a great way to have a say in decisions that directly affect your community and counter the influence of fossil-fuel money. The League of Conservation Voters keeps a good scorecard of candidates’ voting records on environmental issues.
5) Support or Get Involved in Regenerative Agriculture
Mass agriculture uses pesticides and monocrops which causes soil to release carbon into the atmosphere. But managing the land better and changing how we farm can help sequester carbon—and produce more nutrient-dense foods.
Regenerative agriculture is a set of farming practices which includes crop rotation, reduced tillage of the soil, managed grazing, and adding compost to the soil. These practices increase the soil’s biodiversity, reduce the need for pesticides, and make soil more capable of sequestering carbon and retaining water.
You can get involved by joining a CSA (community supported agriculture), getting to know what practices are used to produce the food you enjoy, and try to buy whole, unprocessed foods as often as possible. You can even grow your own foods or join a regenerative farm or cooperative near you!
6) Tell Stories & Talk About Climate Solutions
While many of us are concerned about the climate crisis, we often forget to talk about it. A 2018 study by the Yale Program on Climate Communication found that 70 percent of Americans are concerned about climate change, but only 35 percent talk about with friends and family.
Talking about climate solutions and ways to take action is the best way to engage those who already concerned about the planet—you’ll both leave the conversation feeling motivated to take action, rather than overwhelmed or disillusioned.
With those who may not be as concerned or educated about the issue, telling stories and finding common ground is the best way to approach the issue. You can discuss the benefits you’ve experienced from taking action or tell stories about how you or people you know have been affected by climate change.
You don’t even have to use the words “climate change.” Rather, focus on the values you both share and don’t criticize others’ beliefs. Regardless of where someone lies on the political spectrum, it’s likely that we all value clean air and water and want a safe planet for future generations.
7) Join the Climate Movement
Joining a group that shares your concerns can empower you and alleviate feelings of helplessness. This is a great way to have a larger collective impact, find a community, and make new friends. Find an organization that aligns with your values and join one of their existing campaigns, or start your own!
There is a climate action group for you, no matter who you are or how you’d like to get involved. Here are a few ideas:
You could get involved with the Moms Clean Air Force if you’re concerned about the planet your children will inherit.
Scientists concerned about the future of the planet could get involved with the Union of Concerned Scientists
The NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, Indigenous Environmental Network, the Pacific Climate Warriors, Ecomadres, GreenLatinos, or Chispa are good options if you’d like to work with people who share your culture.
8) Upgrade Your Lightbulbs
Switching to efficient lightbulbs seems like it would have a small impact, but it makes a big difference when everyone takes part. LED lightbulbs use 85 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and last for 25 years.
Incandescent lightbulb installation in the U.S. dropped from 68 percent to just six percent of all lightbulbs installed over the last nine years. Electricity use also decreased during this period for the first time in decades, likely a result of lighting and other home efficiency upgrades.
There are many affordable, efficient lightbulbs available that are even compatible with smart home systems—and they’re not limited to harsh fluorescents.
9) Use Power Strips
Appliances and electronics, especially televisions, use electricity even when they’re turned off. They create “phantom loads” of standby power that can be costing you hundreds of dollars every year.
Use power strips or unplug your devices to make sure you’re only using energy when you need to. This will save money and energy and can protect your devices from power surges.
10) Host a House Party for the Planet
Have a dinner party or movie night to talk about ways you and your friends can take climate action together. You could invite a guest speaker, screen a documentary, or make a plant-based meal together. If there’s an election or vote on an environmental issue coming up, consider inviting your guests to register to vote or call your representatives.
This is a fun way to build meaningful relationships and hold each other accountable.