Anxiety about the future of our planet has spiked now that Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Accord. Without the government spearheading efforts to mitigate climate change, what can the average American do?
When deciding how to be a conscientious consumer, it can be helpful to return to the fundamentals. To reduce your impact on the environment, think about changes you can make in three basic, everyday areas.
Transportation is a massive contributor to climate change. Arguably the most efficient way to reduce environmental damage is to drive a fuel-efficient car. A recent article in the New York Times indicated that if all vehicles in America averaged 31 miles per gallon, the US would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 5%.
The US is currently not on a fast track to attaining this goal, given that cars on America’s roads will likely average only 36 miles per gallon by 2025 under Obama-era standards. Since Donald Trump appears committed to rolling back regulations on vehicle emissions, that number could lag behind even further.
Of course, not everyone has the privilege to scrap their old car and replace it with a shiny new electric vehicle. So if that isn’t an option, think about other ways to help protect the environment. If you do drive a car, see if you can carpool to work or take more public transportation instead. Keep your tires inflated. If you’re currently moving to a new area, try to live as close as possible to your new workplace or school so as to cut down on commute times. If you don’t have a car, try to take as much public transportation as you can instead of taxis or ride-sharing services. If possible, walk or bike.
What we eat has a tremendous impact on the environment, but many modern-day consumers remain largely disconnected from the food system. Reducing the amount of meat and dairy you consume is beneficial both to the planet and to your health. Research indicates that consuming fewer animal products would significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, land use, and water consumption.
If going entirely vegan or vegetarian is too big of a leap for you, there are other foods you could consider eating cutting back on, such as excessively packaged foods or anything containing palm oil.
Above all, try to eat locally-sourced foods by keeping an eye out for them at your grocery store or farmers’ market! The smaller the distance your food has to travel, the less carbon dioxide gets emitted along the way.
Everyone has heard the same basic advice to turn off the lights or take shorter showers. While important, there are other steps you can take to curb your environmental impact that you may not have heard of.
For instance, unplug your electronic devices when you’re not using them and or when they are fully charged. “Vampire power” has a real effect both on the planet and your wallet, so only plug in your device when you need a charge. When it comes to showers, consider swapping out your showerhead for one that conserves water (available here on Amazon). And of course, it’s always helpful to swap out your regular light bulbs for LED ones.
Climate change is a large issue that affects all aspects of our lives as well as global businesses and entrepreneurship. With each Empress putting in her intitiave, we can unite and empower one another to stop climate change in its tracks.