Several years ago, climate change observers recognized the end of 2020 as a pivotal
time in the global race to cut carbon. Why? Because it marked the deadline for countries in the Paris Climate Agreement to improve their carbon-cutting plans. While China, the U.K., the E.U., and other nations announced their revised emissions goals in early December, the U.S. has officially pulled out of the agreement and will not be able to rejoin until a new administration has been seated in the White House.
Although the Paris Climate Agreement has led to some progress, other significant setbacks are happening all the time, such as the burning of the Amazon in Brazil, the continued extraction of fossil fuels, unsustainable food production, deforestation, and more. With global progress happening at a frustratingly slow pace, this is a good time for everyone to ask themselves, “What am I doing to save the planet?”
6 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Help the Environment
1. Speak Up
One of the simplest things you can do is also among the most effective. Speaking with friends, family members, and online networks about changes individuals can make in their own lives costs you nothing, and it can spark a domino effect of sustainable activity. Just be careful not to shame those around you. Instead, share actions you’re taking in your own life and offer suggestions on ways others can do the same, or link to organizations that are making a real difference.
In addition to speaking up within your networks, you can also speak up as a citizen by voting for representatives who believe in science and will push for necessary change. You can also “vote” with your pocketbook by buying from brands that already work to protect the environment. If you have concerns about a company’s environmental practices, speak up by reaching out and pushing them to be more environmentally sustainable. For example, many major credit card companies invest in fossil fuels—consider writing to them and saying you’re switching to a local credit union because of their current investment practices.
2. Keep Yourself Informed
Today, those of us in the developed world benefit from the internet, books, podcasts, and more—all of which can provide valuable information on the climate crisis. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to vote for people who represent you and your views, and the easier it will be to talk to people in your life about these topics you care about.
As you seek out information, make sure the source is reputable, has a track record of providing factual information, and doesn’t have any ulterior motives. The climate crisis is always evolving, so your learning should never truly be done.
3. Eat More Sustainably
Consider the impact your diet has on the Earth. Our diets contribute about one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and cause around 60% of global biodiversity loss. Eating less meat and incorporating more plant-based foods helps reduce your impact on the environment.
Research estimates that livestock produces about 80% of food-related emissions, and the climate impact of plant-based foods is about 10-50 times smaller than animal-based products. If you’re in a position to reduce your meat intake, it could help to reduce your carbon footprint.
If you eat seafood, make an effort to buy sustainably caught fish. Overfishing and unsustainable practices like dynamite fishing can contribute to a loss in biodiversity, destroy corals, and jeopardize the health of our waterways.
4. Travel More Sustainably
In the U.K. and the U.S., the transport sector is now responsible for more carbon emissions than any other, with road vehicles causing nearly three-quarters of the emissions. You can reduce your personal emissions by traveling more responsibly.
Walk or bicycle when you can, and when those aren’t an option, consider carpooling or taking public transportation. If you’re planning a vacation, limit the number of flights you take each year. A single domestic flight can account for 10% of your yearly carbon emissions, so consider traveling closer to home or taking the train to your destination.
5. Recycle, Upcycle, and Compost
The world produces over two billion tons of solid waste every year, according to The World Bank Group. Our current cycle of consumption is not sustainable, and when waste is not properly managed, landfills can become an environmental hazard. If everyone does their best to divert waste from the landfill and recycle materials to minimize the number of new materials that need to be made, we could collectively mitigate the impacts of our consumption.
Consider upcycling things like glass jars and cans to reduce the number of new things you need to buy, and buying vintage or used goods whenever possible. Food waste is also a huge problem, but you can reduce yours by actually eating leftovers and composting the organic waste that you can’t eat.
6. Donate to Causes You Believe In
If you’re able, consider donating to organizations that are working to solve the climate change problem. Things may seem hopeless at the moment, but it’s important to realize that many organizations are achieving real success in their efforts to save species from the brink of extinction, protect important marine areas, and offset carbon emissions. Many of these organizations rely on donations to do their work, so any amount you can give has the potential to make a significant difference.
If you’re not able to donate money, consider donating your time. You can volunteer for cleanups in your community, share important climate change news and tips on social media, campaign for politicians with environmentally friendly platforms, and more.
Help Save the Planet Through Educational Entertainment
Every individual has the potential to make the world a better place, but until we reach a critical mass of environmentally-minded people, the planet might not heal rapidly enough to avoid long-lasting damage.
At Population Media Center (PMC), we have successfully reached over 500 million people all over the world with life-changing content that has inspired measurable behavior change with regard to environmental conservation. If you believe in our mission of creating a more sustainable world with equal rights for all, consider donating or getting involved with us today.