8 Meaningful Actions You Can Take This Earth Day
In honor of Earth Day on April 22, the Earth Institute has quite a lot of great stories and events lined up for you throughout the whole month of April. Learn more.
Because the impacts of climate change are speeding up, the frequency of maximum weather events and natural disasters is soaring. Every summer, there are destructive wildfires in California and the Himalayas, or heatwaves in Europe, or record floods in East Africa and South Asia during monsoons.
This 12 months’s Earth Day theme, “Restore Our Earth,” urges us to understand that after enduring multiple lockdowns globally, we cannot return to pre-COVID business as usual.
Many argue that their individual attempts to cut back their carbon footprint may be too insignificant to matter. In any case, 100 corporations emit 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases into the environment, based on a Carbon Majors report in 2018.
But over time, changes in individual behaviors can spur systemic changes for a green economy, said Steve Cohen, a professor within the practice of public affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and director of the Earth Institute Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management.
While an increasing variety of individuals are growing aware of their carbon footprint, most of us are still grappling with the challenges of creating lifestyle changes. It’s daunting to vary your every day habits and routines to make way for more environmentally sustainable activities.
“The most effective solution to empower people to take control and reduce their carbon footprint is to make use of this 12 months’s Earth Day to determine where they’ve been spending essentially the most carbon before and through the pandemic,” said Robin Bell, a research professor at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
“Reflect on what you possibly can do individually and provide you with a plan based on that. Then, push the institutions you’re a part of [to consume less energy and plastic],” added Bell. “My goal could be to get people to maneuver towards everlasting motion, and never only for someday.”
If you are conducting a carbon audit on a person level, listed here are 8 actions you may take up in your day-to-day life to assist restore our planet.
1. Cut down on online shopping
A mere click of a button and also you get your shopping items delivered to the doorstep inside a day or two. And one of the best part is, this whole process requires zero contact with one other human being. But think twice before ordering items online that you can buy at your neighborhood store.
Online orders require 1000’s of freight trucks running on diesel to deliver packages across the country, quite than dropping off a single package at a store that may serve dozens or a whole bunch of shoppers. Inevitably, this leads to high amounts of carbon emissions. Based on the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, the common American annually creates demand for around 60 tons of products that have to be transported from one place to a different.
To chop down on that footprint, you possibly can shop locally, planning trips to nearby retail stores and picking up multiple items in the identical trip.
2. Cut down in your beef consumption
The typical American eats a few pound of beef every week. As a consumer, you can help make the U.S. beef industry more environmentally sustainable by simply cutting down your beef consumption to half a pound per week as an alternative, based on Maureen Raymo a paleoclimatologist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and an advisor for Hold the Beef.
As an alternative of beef, consider switching to chicken, eggs, pork, beans, or tofu to cut back your carbon footprint. “For those who’re eating something lower down within the food chain, it’s not quite that big impact,” explained Bell.
3. Avoid wasting food
Around 30-40 percent of food that’s produced goes to waste, based on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). That accounts for 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. And the most important proportion of food waste — about 37 percent — happens in the house, based on the Washington Post.
“Freeze any excess food or eat it the subsequent day as an alternative of throwing out any leftovers,” suggests Bell. “Remember what portions you normally eat while ordering. Also, communicate with the restaurants you go to that you simply need smaller portions.”
4. Learn the way to compost (or where to drop off compostable items)
One other solution to reduce carbon emissions from food waste is to compost what you possibly can’t eat. For those who are recent to composting and live in a city, you need to first discover what support town offers to compost, said Bell. As an illustration, in Latest York City, the GrowNYC Compost Program collects food scraps at drop-off sites in residential areas (although some sites have been suspended on account of the pandemic).
While government-run composting programs in NYC have been struggling to take off since 2012, other U.S. cities like Seattle and San Francisco have passed laws that required residents to participate in composting.
5. Schedule an appointment to color your roof white
Darker surfaces absorb more heat. Studies have shown that painting rooftops white can nullify this effect. As an alternative of warmth getting absorbed and retained throughout the constructing or house, the sun’s rays are simply reflected.
This straightforward technique can reduce the temperatures inside your private home by as much as 2 or 3 degrees Celsius — which translates into energy and price savings.
White roofs can even help combat the urban heat island effect. In Latest York City, it has been mandatory for brand spanking new buildings to have 75 percent of the roof area covered with a white coating since 2008.
In case your apartment constructing or house still has an unpainted or dark roof, schedule an appointment to color it white.
“For individuals who don’t have access to roofs, ensuring that you simply’re buying renewable electricity is something which you could do on Earth Day,” said Bell. “Yow will discover sustainable energy with a few clicks of a mouse in the event you aren’t doing it already.”
6. Commit to investing sustainably
Investing in Bitcoin might look like yet another choice to diversify your portfolio and increase your savings, but think twice before considering this cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin mining — the convoluted process that involves decoding complex math problems for the creation of latest bitcoins — is extremely energy intensive. Researchers have found the quantity of electricity required for mining bitcoins is excess of what entire countries like Ireland devour.
“If you will have money to speculate, whether it’s in your retirement portfolio, or elsewhere, ensure that it’s following the Environmental, Social, and governance (ESG) principles,” added Bell.
The ESG criteria permit you to study every company’s environmental impact. Including aspects comparable to energy use, pollution, waste management, and treatment of animals.
7. Filter out your inbox and delete old/unread emails
The carbon footprint of your emails just isn’t inconsequential. The typical office employee receives near 121 emails day-after-day. Out of that, at the least half of them will go straight to the spam folder.
It’s estimated that storing a 12 months’s price of emails could cause as much as 0.66 tons of carbon dioxide. As compared, the annual carbon footprint of a median Bangladeshi is 0.44 tons.
Delete all those unread promotional emails or other spam on this Earth Day, and dedicate a while every month to filter your inbox. Something so simple as decluttering your inbox not only helps in de-stressing, but could also reduce your carbon footprint within the long-run.
8. Take local motion
Don’t let change end at your household or inbox. It is necessary to push your local government to take motion, said Bell. Yow will discover the proper person to contact about climate change concerns through the Common Cause database. Write a customized email including what actions you think that the representative could take for environmental sustainability.
You may also consider getting involved in an area organization that shares your passion for the environment, so which you could start making a difference in your community as well.
To assist advance the work of our scientists and experts working on our most pressing issues, please consider supporting the Earth Institute and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory today. You may as well learn more on our Earth Day website.