Even for those of us perpetually concerned with the disastrous effects of a changing climate, the most recent IPCC report was tough to swallow. The reality is that even with our strictest existing climate measures, we are still going to experience devastating impacts from the emissions we’ve already created. So how do we motivate ourselves to continue advocating for a healthier world?
If you’re experiencing dejection and climate anxiety, it can be difficult to find optimism, but there are important steps we can continue to take in our personal lives to mitigate climate change.
Use your purchasing power
It’s true that just 100 companies are responsible for over 70 percent of global emissions, but we as consumers have the power to determine which companies we support and allow to exist in our business sphere.
Start by choosing to repair and reuse, rather than buy, and opt for used goods. With online used retailers and local consignment shops, it’s usually feasible to find lightly used clothing, home goods, tools, and more at a fraction of the price. Some items you will be forced to buy new, but making the switch to prioritizing used goes a long way in lowering your personal footprint and supporting a culture of circularity一not to mention not supporting fast fashion outfitters.
When it comes to goods you need to buy new, do your homework on different companies, and spend your dollars with the most ethical option. Does the company have an environmental impact goal? Are they following through on it with tangible action? Where do they source their ingredients and what are they? How durable are their goods? Could you easily repair their product? How material-intensive is their packaging? Does a local business produce what I’m looking for?
Green up your home
Insulating your home is not the sexiest climate strategy, but it makes a big difference in terms of heating and cooling energy use. Simple steps, like filling in small gaps around windows and doors or investing in double-pane windows can go a long way. Additionally, practice setting your thermostat to two degrees cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. Practice natural cooling methods in the summer and throw on a sweater in the winter.
Cutting down on personal food waste is another big action point. Americans waste on average one pound of food per person each day, but eliminating food waste would cut an impressive eight percent of greenhouse gases, particularly potent methane. Try composting, shopping more efficiently, and repurposing those food scraps.
Democracy has designed a way for every citizen to have a voice, and when it comes to a time-sensitive crisis like climate change, voting is more important than ever. Use your vote to put leaders in office that support rapid and wide-reaching climate action. We also encourage you to contact your representatives and urge that climate action become a top priority (if you live in the US, you can use this handy hotline).
See the big picture
We must, as individuals, recognize the simultaneous power and limitations of our actions. Yes, you are just one person, but that shouldn’t stop you from feeling empowered and motivated by your personal climate choices. At the same time, climate change is the result of the actions of billions of people, mostly the wealthiest among us, so it’s important to also take time to rest, reset, and take care of yourself.