We have reached the era when climate refugees are now seen as the new normal. According to a 2019 report prepared by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, due to natural disasters, there was a world record of over seven million new displacements that happened between January and June 2019. Come 2050, nations across the globe should expect to experience the trauma of facing about an estimated one billion refugees affected by the effects of climate crisis.
As municipalities and cities around the world declare climate emergencies and student protestors and activists demand climate action from their governments, here’s how concerned citizens and business owners can curb their addiction to dirty fossil fuels at work, at home or on the road:
REDUCE ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION
- Work on your laptop rather than on the desktop. Laptops can be up to 80% more energy efficient depending on brand, type and usage. You can also try setting your computer on power-saving mode when it becomes idle for a few minutes.
- Avoid printing to save paper. This will lessen the amount of inks and paper used in the year as well as the carbon dioxide that goes into the production of paper. If you must use the printer, choose one machine that can print, scan and photocopy to avoid using three separate devices. Purchase eco-friendly office supplies.
- Work from home if your employer will allow it. That way you can offset the energy you would have spent for every flight or drive you make when going to meetings when you can just video conference through Skype at home.
- Switch to a green electricity provider.
- Switch lights and devices off when not in use, and pull out of the wall socket. Remind the family to get into these habits too. Use energy-efficient appliances to help you reduce the electricity you consume at home.
- Look out for appliances with the Energy Star label; the higher the star rating, the more energy efficient the appliance.
- Install home solar system or switch to a green electricity provider.
- Purchase locally-grown organic produce to keep food miles (and thus greenhouse gas emissions) and chemical usage to a minimum.
- About one-third of the planet’s food goes to waste and since growing food requires large amounts of resources to grow, store and transport such as water, chemicals and gas, minimising food waste, buying few packaged foods and composting scraps keeps fossil fuel usage down.
- Offset your household carbon emissions. Learn how by reading this article.
Mindless consumerism eats time and money, and earth’s valuable resources. Every product created requires water, fossil fuels, human energy, mined minerals and other non-renewable resources. By purchasing only what you truly love and need, and making the decision to shop second-hand wherever and whenever possible, you can reduce fossil fuel dependence and minimise your footprint.
If you do go shopping, ensure the products are responsibly-made and are as environmentally friendly as you can afford. To check out some conscious brands, visit this page.
“…too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.” — Former US President Jimmy Carter, “Malaise Speech” also known as “Crisis of Confidence” speech delivered 15 July 1979
SAY NO TO PLASTICS
Plastics are made using fossil fuels. Every year, there are about 335 million metric tons of plastics produced. By refusing, reducing and reusing plastics, you can help to minimise not only your plastic footprint, but your carbon footprint too.
Saying no to single-use items such as plastic bags, straws, bottled drinks and sachets and bring your reusable tote bags, water bottles and reusable straw will reduce your environment impact drastically. Check out this list of zero waste items to help you make the switch from single-use plastic disposables to reusables.
One of the most effective ways to accelerate the move to a sustainable future is to put your money where your green mouth is. Is your bank or financial institution investing your savings, investments and retirement money in fossil fuels? Do you know whether your money is being used to build new coal power planets or oil drilling or fracking? If so, make the switch to responsible banks and ethical finance institutions that don’t invest in fossil fuel projects and instead, focus on financing renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.
USE ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION
You consume fossil fuels every time you drive your vehicle to work so walking or riding your bike to work is one way to save fossil fuels. If human-power isn’t your style, you can also choose public transportation or carpool with work colleagues to reduce your addiction to fossil fuels.
MAINTAIN YOUR CAR
If you own a vehicle, keep it tuned on a regular basis and make sure it passes vehicle emission testing to avoid your car emitting black smoke from its tail pipes. Replacing air, oil and fuel filters can also improve gas mileage and thus fuel efficiency.
INVEST IN A GREENER RIDE
Hybrid and electric cars can produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than regular cars since these types of vehicles use batteries and electricity. When you use clean electricity (such as that produced by solar or wind) for charging these electric or hybrid vehicles, it produces minimal emissions.
Limit plane travel where you can. Aviation emissions have increased in the past two decades and now accounts for 4.9% of human-induced climate change. If you need to fly, make sure to fly economy as first class seats leave a carbon footprint 9 times larger than economy. Make sure to offset the carbon footprint produced from your plane trip at the time of booking or afterwards.
CUT MEAT INTAKE
Reducing meat consumption is one of the biggest ways to reduce fossil fuel dependence and reduce carbon footprint. We covered this topic in great length in this article but to summarise, an individual can prevent the use of fossil fuels in raising, butchering, storing, transporting, distributing and refrigerating meat.
By educating others, you help to spread the green message even further. Encourage everyone within your network to make more sustainable choices (such as those in this list).
Vote for public officials who take environmental issues seriously. Use your voice and reach out to lawmakers and remind them of what’s important. Demand urgent action from them to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources.
- Try a 12 x 12 Sustainable Lifestyle Challenge in 2020: 12 Eco Challenges in 12 Months
- 10 Money-Saving Zero Waste Swaps for the Budget-Conscious this Earth Day
- 20 Steps to Plastic-Free Living
- Daily Sustainable Habits: 7 Ways You Can Reduce Your Waste
- Bringing Frugality Back: Why Living Frugally is More Sustainable
- Concerned About The UN Climate Report? Take These Sustainable Actions Today…
- Individuals in the Developed World Consume More of the Earth’s Resources. Here’s How to Consume Less…
Title image via Shutterstock.