Now that climate change has become an imminent reality, many people are wondering what they can do to make a difference and reduce their carbon footprint in a bid to save the planet. Of course, there are plenty of naysayers who claim that individual action doesn’t make a difference when it comes to climate change.
Yet numerous sources disagree, even claiming that an individual’s contribution can effectively serve as a catalyst for others to follow suit. Social influence is a major player in our current media-rich landscape, where being an “influencer” is a financially lucrative endeavour. But instead of influencing the public’s fashion and entertainment choices, sustainably-minded individuals can help prompt others to join the fight against climate change.
And effective change starts at home: By slightly altering your daily routine, you can help impact the planet in a positive way while also encouraging your friends and family to do the same. These simple changes can positively impact the health of our planet, but that’s only the beginning.
Altering your spending habits, developing new, sustainable routines, and upgrading your home can even save you money in the long run and may make certain tasks easier over time. The best part is that incorporating sustainable living at home is easier than you might expect.
Here’s how to get started.
1. Rethink Your Home Energy Sources
In our technologically-advanced society, energy sits firmly behind almost everything we do. From kitchen appliances to the entertainment system and beyond, most aspects of our daily life involves electricity to some degree. Unfortunately, our reliance on electricity is detrimental to the health of the planet.
Vox reports that “carbon dioxide emissions reached a record high in 2019.” The US is the world’s biggest culprit in the realm of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and the problem is only getting worse with time. And if you want to help counteract the effects of climate change, re-thinking your home energy needs is an ideal starting point.
For instance, have you ever thought about investing in green energy? Going green is the wave of the future, yet the US continues to lag behind the bulk of developed nations on the renewable energy front. Solar power has already been widely embraced by numerous countries, including China, Finland, and Iceland.
And it’s easy to see why. While there are a few disadvantages, the benefits of installing a home solar energy system far outweigh the downsides. For starters, you’re likely to save a pretty penny on energy bills while dramatically reducing your carbon footprint. A solar energy system can also boost your property value, by upwards of 4%.
2. Change Your Spending Habits
Money talks, so they say, and your cash is indeed very vocal when it comes to saving the planet. Increasingly, US consumers are being more mindful of the companies they support. In a 2015 Nielsen survey, 66% of global consumers reported a willingness to pay more for products and brands that are ethically produced and sustainably sourced. The percentage of Gen Z’ers and millennials willing to pay more for sustainability was even higher.
Just a little bit of internet research can quickly show you if a brand is sustainable and/or environmentally friendly. Savvy consumers can also be on the lookout for certified B Corporations to support. B Corps are third-party verified companies that adhere to strict ethical, social justice, and environmental standards.
Where influence is concerned, your actions could even become the spark that ignites a movement towards widespread sustainability. Eschewing companies with a poor track record in sustainability and social justice in favour of those that are decidedly green may even start a trend among your family and friends. And speaking of trends, have you given much thought to the sustainability of what you’re wearing?
3. Be More Mindful Of Your Fashion Choices
We don’t always think about it, but the fashion industry is notoriously wasteful. On an annual basis, the UK alone sends approximately 350,000 tons of clothing to landfills. That’s not to mention the environmental output that comes from fibre production and manufacturing clothing itself, the bulk of which can be considered “fast fashion.”
Fast fashion refers to the method of clothing production wherein inexpensive items are produced at a rapid pace. This allows apparel companies to provide significant product variety, quickly refresh product lines in time with the seasons, and fuel high-impulse purchases. Yet fast fashion comes with numerous downsides, including the exploitation of (mostly foreign) workers as well as detrimental environmental effects.
Sustainable fashion, on the other hand, serves as an effective alternative to the throwaway culture perpetuated by the fast fashion industry. While sustainable fashion may be more expensive on the surface, it also comes with invaluable environmental and socio-economic benefits. Further, some forms of sustainable fashion are extremely cost-effective when compared to fast fashion, such as shopping secondhand at thrift stores or estate sales.
4. Give Your Home An Eco-Friendly Upgrade
Alternative energy systems are just the beginning in the realm of sustainable home improvements. You can further reduce home energy bills by switching out traditional light bulbs for LED versions, for example. Consider implementing water conservation methods as well, such as collecting rainwater from your roof to be used in your garden or other applications.
You can also take control of your indoor air quality, which helps protect your family. Poor air quality is one of the many repercussions of climate change, and it poses a significant risk to public health. Keep your family breathing freely by cleaning regularly, using organic household cleaners whenever possible, and by taking advantage of the natural photosynthesis processes of plants.
Houseplants that can help remove harmful elements and pollutants from the air include:
- Bamboo palm
- English ivy
- Green spider plant
- Peace lily
5. Cultivate A More Sustainable Daily Routine
It may be hard to believe, but even after incorporating consumer mindfulness into your daily life, avoiding fast fashion, and installing a home-based alternative energy system, it’s still possible to be even more sustainable at home. Start by exploring your family’s cooking and eating habits, and making improvements where necessary to reduce food waste.
Like clothing waste, food waste is a major global problem and an environmentally costly one at that. In the UK, 7.1 million tonnes of household food is discarded every year, which is responsible for about 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, writes the Waste and Resources Action Programme. By doing your part to prevent creating household food waste and being more mindful of your shopping choices, you can become part of the solution to our global waste problem.
The more changes you make to help save the planet, the further your possible reach of influencing sustainability among your family, friends, coworkers, and beyond. Cultivating a more sustainable lifestyle is an effective way to combat climate change on an individualised level, and may help you achieve a better, healthier life overall.