Many of us are increasingly concerned about climate change and wonder what we can do to make a difference. Everything we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, our shopping habits, all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Knowing that every choice we make has an impact on climate is the first step in changing how we live, what we buy, and how we think about the world and its future. There are many options available today to help us reduce our carbon footprint.
The typical American’s annual per capita carbon footprint is over five times the world’s per capita average, at around 15 tons per person in 2019. According to a U.N. report, emissions will need to be reduced by 7.6% annually for the next decade in order to avoid a temperature rise above 1.5 Celsius.
What can U.S. households do to decrease their energy use and embrace a sustainable lifestyle? Making clear choices in your shopping habits can have a surprising impact, especially if we all do it together. Here is one suggestion for each of the following categories. For more, go to the sections to see suggestions on how make a change for the better.
Kitchen. Reduce your dependence on single-use paper and plastic items by turning to alternative paper towels and silicone food storage options.
Bedroom. Choose bedding and linens, carpeting, eco-paint and lighting that supports sustainability while creating a healthy atmosphere in which to spend one third of your life.
Bathroom. Find products that are sustainable, recyclable, and free from harmful chemicals. Plus choose products that have minimal packaging if possible, or at least are recyclable, compostable, or made from recycled materials.
Laundry. The laundry can be cleaner and greener if you invest in Energy Star appliances, wash clothes in cold water, and purchase cleaning products that are free from harmful chemicals.
Home Office. Companies are now offering environmentally friendly office furniture, ecologically safe computers, and business card made with biodegradable eco-paper that is embedded with wildflower seeds, ready to plant as soon as the meeting is over.
Pets. Dog collars made from plastic bottles, cat beds crated from bamboo, and kitty litter made from recycled newspaper are just a few of the choices you can make to keep your pets happy while caring for the earth.
Garden Solar lights and composting are two good first steps towards maintaining a climate friendly garden. The choice of organic fertilizers and the use of permeable pavers to help manage rain water runoff are also important to keep your garden safe and sustainable.
Holidays & Celebrations Sometimes the best things in life aren’t things. Adopt an elephant or an acre of vulnerable land. Give the gift of an experience instead of an object. And when choosing wrapping paper, confetti, or decorations, make sure they are compostable and plastic free.
Building a Home. There are so many ways to reduce your home’s contribution to climate change. Newer appliances and lightbulbs can dramatically save on energy and save money. New faucets and toilets save water, and building or remodeling with recycled or reclaimed materials is a very good option.
To find out how much you know about choosing a greener lifestyle, take this short National Geographic quiz