If you’re keeping up with the reports on global warming, you've likely got the chills more than once. Climate scientists are no longer treating the situation with ‘if’ but rather with a certainty that is bound to make us react.
Climate change is real and it is caused by human activity, says the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in a report aptly titled “What we know”1. Other scientists concur and we recognize the reality in our day-to-day lives, witnessing big weather events here and there, whether directly or on the news.
When that happens, we want to help. We contribute financially or donate food and other things that are urgently needed. People have always done that.
And things are no different in face of imminent climate change when it comes to individual action.
While industrial pollution is what causes part of the global warming, our everyday life does the same. Making changes at an individual level can tip the balance towards a better outcome. After all, there are so many of us!
Where to start? Anywhere:
- If you own a car, drive less. Non-renewable fossil fuel comes with a high cost. The less we use, the better. Every gallon matters.
- If you eat meat, try meat-free days a couple times in the week. When buying meat, opt for humanely, farm-raised animals that do not burden the environment by creating an excess of toxic waste, but rather work in conjunction with nature. If you’re a fish lover, please choose wisely by consulting the Monterey Aquarium Bay Seafood Watch2.
- Just like with meat, consume eggs and dairy that are clean and from humanely-raised animals. As for other foods, expect veggies and fruit that are pesticide-free to be heavier on the wallet, but easy on the environment. Whenever you can, opt for local and organic produce. It’s a clean trade: your body is cleaner and better adjusted by eating a seasonal fare, you are being spared the extra side dish of pesticides, and the land is cleaner by not being sprayed with countless rounds of pesticides, which means your water and air will be cleaner too.
- If you have to buy it, choose the objects with the least impact--from their environmental impact to how they affect people’s lives. Most plastic objects are made from non-renewable resources. If you buy plastic objects, settle for the ones made from recycled plastic that can be given another life once you’re done with them. If you have a choice, opt for objects made from natural sources that are implicitly renewable. Think bamboo, cork, coconut, and hemp fiber. Go sustainable whenever you can. Choose products that are made from raw sources that are both renewable and can be composted once they’re out of use--and also fairly traded.
The bottom line? Never discount the influence a single person can have. It was Lao-Tzu who said who said “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It starts with just that.
One step, one change and that good feeling of knowing you can help--knowing that when you change one thing, something shifts in how you live your life and you’ll keep adding more. It starts with each of us.
Daniela Ginta, MSc lives and writes in Kamloops, BC, after many years spent on the West Coast. She writes mostly on environmental and social issues, and occasionally shares insights into her life as a mother of two young sons to whom she wants to give two things: common sense and a social conscience. Daniela has written for many local and national publications, and has no fear when it comes to discussing big uncomfortable environment or society-related topics. You can visit her at www.thinkofclouds.com and www.danielaginta.com, or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.