On Living Sustainably

By Kyle Gaw

It’s said that the flutter of a butterfly’s wings has the power to create a chain reaction altering the course of weather forever. A simple ripple in the air, something so innocent and forgettable, has the ability to change the course of history – and the same can be said for you.

It’s easy for a concerned citizen to feel distraught in today’s environmental and political climate. As the signs of climate change become more apparent, many politicians seem to be working harder at burying their heads in the sand rather than trying to pass policy to prevent it from worsening. Undoubtedly, this raises the question of how much impact one person can really have in the fight to address climate change.

That’s not the case at Earthwatch. If there’s one thing that we’ve learned in our nearly 50 years of operation, it’s the power of one person to ignite monumental change.

We, as a society, are standing at a crossroads. We can choose to follow the lead of select elected officials and ignore the signs of climate change; or we can start flapping our proverbial wings by taking up arms in the fight to save the planet.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “that’s all well and good but how do I begin?” Our advice is to start with simple changes you can make today. No one person is going to change the world overnight but by adding sustainable practices into everyday life, we all can lower our impact on the environment and start to decrease the effects of climate change.

Below we’ve compiled a few easy things that you can start doing to be more sustainable (and added in a few animal GIFs to encourage you to take the next step). Let us know which of these you plan on doing or add some ideas of your own in the comments section below.

Get Informed

If knowledge is power, our first line of defense against climate change naturally should be to learn as much as we can.

Subscribe to blogs, watch documentaries, talk to scientists, do anything you can do to learn about how to protect the environment and improvements you can make in your daily life to reduce your carbon footprint.

Get Involved

There is strength in numbers. Get involved in your local community groups.

Try finding a green living or sustainability Meetup close to you. Not only will you feel more connected to the cause, you might even make some friends along the way.

Increase your energy efficiency

Wherever you are right now, look around and take a quick audit of everything that you have plugged in/everything consuming electricity. Now look to see how many of those things have an energy star label on them. If you’re not able to count them all on one hand, this one is for you.

Start by turning off the lights in rooms that you’re not occupying, unplug unused appliances, hang clothing when weather permits rather than using a machine. The added bonus to this sustainable tip will be apparent when you look at your bank account at the end of the month and you see that extra money looking back at you.

Eat wisely

Think outside the box, literally. Start off by choosing to eat less processed foods, which typically require a lot more energy to produce.

Plant a vegetable garden in your backyard to start producing your own food. Dedicate one meal a week to meat-free eating since ~18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from meat and dairy farms.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

This one should be an old hat by now but it’s worth repeating. Try to avoid creating more landfill by reusing what you already have for new purposes. Recycle whatever you can’t give new life to.

Take things a step further by composting your food scraps and other biodegradable materials or write to your local stores and product manufacturer to let them know you want them to reduce packaging on products.

Let polluters pay

Carbon taxes are one of the most effective ways to reduce the nation’s climate impact. Check to see if similar policies are enacted where you live and, if they’re not, contact your elected representative to begin the process of getting one on the books.

Green your commute

Commuting every day by yourself can get lonely and add unneeded carbon to the atmosphere. Switch up your daily routine and test out other means of transportation.

Start by dedicating one day a week or even one a month to create a more sustainable commute. Consider walking, biking, taking public transit, or if all else fails, carpool to work.

But don’t stop there, the United Nations has created a fantastic user guide to saving the world for even the laziest among us.

Questions or comments about this post? Feel free to contact us at communications@earthwatch.org. We’d love to hear from you!