10 Ways to Save Mother Earth
I like this challenge because it brings the lens of focus back to the individual level and reminds us that we can all play a role in environmentalism. Yes, it’s more critical for governments and the private sector to act first, since their share of the harm to the planet is much more than the everyday person’s, but if each of us is reminded of our responsibility to the planet, hopefully we will be inspired to act.
1. Buy fewer clothes
This is the first item on my list because it’s something I have a hard time doing. Resisting fast fashion can feel nearly impossible! but the water alone needed to grow the materials for clothes is in such demand that I can’t justify purchasing new clothes all the time, no matter how cute they look.
2. Eat local and in season
This applies to both fruits + vegetables and animal byproducts. Reducing the time food needs to spend in the supply chain contributes hugely to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transport.
3. Turn off the AC
A lot of us Americans are guilty of turning the AC on once, in early June, and leaving it on through mid-September. I think this is the wrong reflex, not just for green reasons but also because it creates environments where we aren’t even that comfortable and gives people colds.
4. Take the stairs
This is an all-purpose rec that, in reality, probably won't do too much for the planet. But its positive externalities are so high (easy exercise, less time waiting for elevators, endorphins) and its downside so limited that it just makes sense as a habit shift.
Or basically use something other than a car as your primary form of transport. This can include public transportation (and I know that this is woefully lacking in the U.S. in particular, so I don't blame anyone for needing their car), biking, walking, or even being remote.
6. Grow a garden
If you grow a vegetable garden, you'll have delicious fresh greens available to you in-season. If you grow a flower garden, you'll be providing a home for butterflies and other insects and small mammals that are crucial to maintaining the ecosystem. In either case, you'll have a fun new hobby and a way to give back that pays dividends to you as well.
7. Get solar panels for your house
Thanks to some federal and state goverment programs, getting personal solar panels in the U.S. can be financially accessible. Definitely something to look into, since you'll save money on your electricity bill while also generating "clean" power and sharing surplus energy with the grid.
8. In most cases, avoid plastic
Plastic is one of the materials that's the most difficult and takes the longest to recycle. If possible, using plastic alternatives (e.g. metal, wood, glass) will be better for the planet while also providing you with more durable, long-lasting goods. Plus, some studies say that plastic can have ill-effects on human health, so avoiding it is prudent in that sense too.
9. Borrow and share
With the advent of more and more digital marketplaces, the sharing economy is growing swiftly. Next time you want to purchase a one-off item (e.g. a tool for yardwork), consider seeing if it's possible to rent one for a reasonable price instead (or to borrow one from a friend). Libraries have been using this model for years, with great success.
This point can be summarized succinctly as: just buy less.
10. Try not to fly
This one is a huge sacrifice, but perhaps some of the more dedicated among us would consider it. Flying is one of the activities that contributes the most to climate change, since the emissions from flights heat up the atmosphere and last years. Avoiding flying could mean taking alternative transportation, making use of remote technologies, or changing your destination.
11. (BONUS) Be kind and act as a model for those around you
Lead with your actions, and people will be inspired. If you focus on yourself, you'll make change happen and will be a model for those around you when you move on to change the world.