We as students think about our futures everyday. We think about being at our dream college or the countless tests we need to take to get in. Imagine applying for colleges and realizing that none of this matters because the future is not guaranteed. The UN declared that we have only 12 years to act to limit the climate change catastrophe. The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of droughts, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. So far, we have already raised temperatures by 1 degrees Celsius. I know it is hard to believe, but in twelve years some of us might have children. Imagine bringing our loved ones into a world that is dying. A world that lacks safe air and water but has constant destructive hurricanes and droughts. Is that what you want for yourselves and our loved ones?
We only have twelve years to change the world. This is not an exaggeration but a reality. We might not see and experience the changes, but that does not mean that climate change is not occurring. Poor communities, communities of color, and coastal cities already experience the severe effects of Climate Change while we, the industrial nations that are the leading source to this problem, just remain idle in our safe haven. From heat waves, droughts, and air pollution, people’s lives and health are in imminent danger. According to the World Health Organization, “Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.”
So, what can we do? We possess immense power to change the world, so use it! Doing these ten easy things can make a significant impact!
1. LIMIT THE USE OF NON-REUSABLE/NON-RECYCLABLE PRODUCTS
Non–recyclable paper – wrapping paper that is laminated or contains foreign materials such as foil-coatings or glitter, photographic film, microwave containers, hardcover books, frozen food boxes, thermal fax paper, carbon paper, blueprints, aluminum foil boxes and binders.
Non–recyclable plastic consumer items - some food storage containers, dishware, vinyl, disposable diapers, toys, Formica™, fiberglass, foam materials, plastics attached to other materials such as kitchenware or auto parts, plastic bags, plastic wrap, and plastic straws.
Others: Styrofoam products
Alternatives (these links hold information on cheap reusable products):
Reusable Straws: http://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-reusable-straws.html
Bags, coffee cups, water bottles: https://www.onyalife.com/eco-friendly-products/
2. CONSERVE ENERGY (https://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-can-stop-climate-change/)
Turn off the lights when you are not using them
Take shorter showers
Turn off water when you are not using it
Use energy-efficient light bulbs
Install a heat pump, transfer heat from one location into another, in your home.
Unplug electronic devices when you are not using them
Use solar panels
Wash clothes in cold or warm water (not hot)
Use less paper/napkins
3. DO NOT LITTER
Littering not only dirties the planet, but it also harms marine life, which we intake, and contaminates our water supply. Throw your trash in the garbage even if you have to walk a little bit more!
4. GARDEN & PLANT TREES
Besides obtaining delicious fruits and vegetables, plants can act as highly effective air cleaners, absorbing carbon dioxide and many other air pollutants while releasing clean oxygen.
5. USE GREEN TRANSPORTATION METHODS
Use public transportation
Use bicycles or other green alternatives of transportation
Switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle
Do not go (or at least limit going) on cruises. Cruises release more CO2 emissions than any other transportation system.
6. EDUCATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS AND HAVE CONVERSATIONS We have always more to learn about climate change and how to live more sustainable lives. I have listed below great articles so that you can inform yourself more about this issue. Also, having conversations about climate change can inspire more people to address climate change and expose you and other people to more information and ideas about this problem.
7. REUSE AND RECYCLE--GET CREATIVE!
Look at DIY videos or articles on how to reuse (e.g. https://foshbottle.com/blogs/fosh/60-ways-to-reuse-plastic-bottles)
Donate your clothes and possessions so that more energy does not need to be used to make more products.
Go thrift shopping
8. PARTICIPATE IN RALLIES AND SUPPORT OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
Join rallies! The greater the mass, the more impact we can make. These powerful marches can show policymakers that change is needed. Through these marches, we can stop temperatures from rising. Additionally, it is very important to support other organizations that aim to address climate change.
9. TAKE POLITICAL ACTION
Contact your local legislator/policymaker and demand for climate solutions! Also, make sure to vote for leaders that will address climate change.
10. EAT GREENER
Mass producing food can fill the planet with toxic chemicals, like pesticides and herbicides. Also, the meat industry is significantly detrimental to the environment
Eat more meat-free or plant-based meals as they use less resources to produce
Don’t waste food
Grow your own food