Climate change never stays out of the news for long. Every few weeks, some new study or renowned scientist shows up to remind everyone that unless we do something about it, we're going to need Jeff Goldblum to come save us from the destruction of our planet. It's a daunting prospect, to put it mildly — but there are plenty of little ways to fight climate change in your everyday life so you can help to avoid this reality. Although it may be difficult to see how one person's choices could have a lasting impact, they add up given enough time.
First things first: Climate change is undeniable. While the Earth's climate has changed throughout history — the Ice Age, anyone? — the current rate of warming has accelerated to an unprecedented extent, and human activity is almost certainly the cause. As NASA explained on their site, "The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. ... There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response."
The effects of climate change include ocean acidification, shrinking ice sheets, increasingly extreme weather, and an overall rise in global temperature. Large-scale reform is necessary to slow its progression, but individuals can do their part as well. Here are 22 little ways to reduce your impact on the environment.
1. Burning fossil fuels contributes to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. One of the easiest ways to cut back is by driving less; if it's an option and is safe, take public transport instead.
2. Rather than driving to the gym, go running around your apartment or house, or walk/take public transport to the gym if possible and safe.
3. See if it's possible for you to work from home a few days a week to cut down on your commute.
4. If possible, take the train for long-distance trips instead of a flight. Although you may not think about it, air travel is a significant source of carbon emissions.
5. If you don't already recycle, now is the time to start.
6. Reuse containers like jam jars to store food, so you don't have to buy plastic containers.
7. Buy groceries in bulk. As Scientific American points out, this can cut down on the amount of unnecessary packaging.
8. Turn off the lights when you're not in a room.
9. If you're looking to buy a car, consider its environmental impact. Go for a hybrid or a car with excellent gas mileage.
10. Unplug your chargers when you're not using them — leaving them plugged wastes electricity.
11. Swap out the lights in your house for environmentally-friendly bulbs like compact fluorescents.
12. Instead of using artificial lights on a sunny day, open the blinds and use daylight to see by. (This might not work as well if you live in New York City, where you're lucky if a shaft of daylight enters your apartment at all.)
13. Avoid long showers.
14. Only run your dishwasher when it's full.
15. Turn off the water when you're brushing your teeth.
16. When you're shaving, turn off the shower between rinses.
17. Fix a leaky toilet as quickly as possible; according to the EPA, it can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day.
18. Start composting your food. (The EPA has tips on its website.)
19. Calculate your carbon footprint.
20. Start carpooling. Think of it as a chance to practice your carpool karaoke with a partner.
21. Buy used clothing instead of new.
22. If possible and healthy, reduce the amount of meat you eat. Meat-heavy diets have an astounding impact on the environment.
These are just a few of the ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Some might take some adjusting, but in the grand scheme of things, I'd say the destruction of our planet is a bigger inconvenience than taking shorter showers.