Plus three easy ones that’ll cost you but be worth it, and two that’re unequivocally the most important.
Do what you can. Then go macro on their asses.
Duh. If your community has a program, use it.
2. Shut off lights when you leave an otherwise vacant room.
Turns out our fathers were right. Duh again.
3. Men, shut off the water when you’re shaving except for the second or two it takes to rinse your blades.
Some guys leave the water running the entire time; all that clean, treated and often heated water is just going down the drain, along with the money you spend to get it and heat it. Better yet, use a shaving cup. Fill it once, dunk and shake your razor and move on. Mine’s Burma Shave brand.
4. Everyone, shut off the water while brushing your teeth except for the second or two it takes to rinse your toothbrush.
5. Shut off bathroom lights except the one above the shower or bathtub when bathing.
When you’re done, shut that one off and turn the others on so you can see your beautiful, energy reducing face.
6. Take shorter showers.
It takes a lot of money to treat and heat that water. Yeah, I know, that hot water cascading over your shoulders feels heavenly and you just want to stand under it all day long. I do, too. But I don’t. If you want to get all badass about it, take submarine showers with just 20 seconds of water: 10 seconds to get wet, off while you soap up, 10 more seconds to rinse.
7. Open and shut the refrigerator quickly.
Think about what you want before opening so you don’t stand in front of the doors, cold seeping out and down to your floor.
8. Unplug charging cords when they’re not in use.
Believe it or not, they continue to draw power even if your mobile phone or other device isn’t connected. It’s not much, to be sure, but every minuscule amount counts.
9. Use your blinds and curtains.
Open them during daylight hours in the wintertime; the radiant heat from the sun will reduce your energy usage and bills. Close them during the summertime for the same result.
10. Open windows to cool your house and change into lighter (and less) clothing before turning on the air.
Before you turn up the heat in the winter, put on a sweatshirt or sweater and heavier socks. Better yet, cuddle with each other or the dog.
11. Make sure you’re on your utility’s off-peak program.
These programs generally encourage you to use less energy during peak demand time periods during the day. Some of them even shut off your furnace/air conditioner during those periods for you.
12. Switch off the bathroom lights in your workplace bathroom.
Assuming they aren’t on sensors that turn them off when no-one’s in them, that is.
13. Turn your thermostat down at night.
Despite what the experts say, keeping your head covered at night will keep you toasty, even in a chilly bedroom.
14. Tell restaurants to keep their plastic tableware and straws when ordering at drive-throughs.
Keep reusable straws and silverware in your glove box.
15. Carry reusable grocery bags with you to stores.
That is, when we can again, post-pandemic. Regardless, if you’re only buying one or two items, decline the plastic or paper bag.
16. Keep the door to your clothes dryer closed when you’re not using it.
Even if the exhaust hose that goes directly outside features a plastic flap that closes to keep cold air out, they still let cold air seep into your house.
17. Change your furnace/central air filter more often.
It won’t have to work so hard, which means it’ll use less energy.
18. Use less toilet paper.
Hey, no-one wants to talk about this stuff, but… my father taught me to roll it around your hand a couple of times, no more, and fold it over for that second swipe.
19. Participate in science, racial equity and social justice demonstrations and marches once the pandemic is over.
Remember, Earth Day is every day, the Constitution guarantees our right to peaceful protest, and not a damn thing’s ever gonna change if we don’t make some noise.
20. Rather than driving, walk or ride a bike whenever you can.
21. Continue to meet people over Zoom or a similar program even after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Why burn fuel driving or flying to meet in person when you can meet on your desktops? I know many people find this challenging, but for me it’s introvert heaven. AND it reduces harm to the climate.
22. Eat less red meat.
Twenty-one to 37 percent of greenhouse gasses are produced by the food industry, and of that, 14-1/2 percent is from the beef industry.
23. Plant a garden and otherwise get as much food as possible from local sources that use fewer chemicals and more sustainable practices.
24. Buy food in bulk. In reusable containers.
25. Offset your energy use with renewable sources.
If your utility doesn’t generate at least some of its power from renewable sources, you can go through an organization like Arcadia, which uses renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset your energy use and promote renewable energy production. Learn more.
More Expensive Carbon Reduction Actions
26. Upgrade your windows if you can afford it.
If not, seal them up as best you can.
27. Install solar panels on your house and business.
Sign up for your state’s or utility’s net metering program if it has one.
28. Drive an electric vehicle. If you can’t do that, drive a hybrid.
It’s important every one of us does as much as possible. Just imagine if everyone around the world took as many of these micro actions as they can; it’d make a real difference.
Unfortunately, the hard fact is that it wouldn’t take us as far as we critically need to go, and that right quick. Our political leaders have allowed things to go so far that these personal adjustments to our behaviors and lives won’t get us to the difference the human race needs to avoid catastrophe, immediately if not sooner.
Most Important Climate Crisis Actions
We need changes on macro levels, policies that change behavior quickly and significantly, and global collaboration on a scale we’ve never seen before. The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Accord got the world off to a good start, but just a start. We need so much more.
29. Influence public policies and programs at every level.
The second most important thing you can do is initiate and support policies that reduce carbon emissions and build sustainability and community resiliency.
Attend city council and county commission meetings to advocate for ideas and programs that reduce their carbon footprints and against initiatives that make our communities less sustainable. Email, write and call your state and federal legislators to do the same.
Get involved in policy campaigns about renewable energy and sustainability and volunteer for the campaigns of candidates who take the climate crisis seriously, who aren’t concerned about getting contributions from companies in fossil fuels, transportation and related industries, and who will take the bold steps we critically need to secure a livable future for our children and grandchildren.
And last, but certainly not least…
Vote like your life and the lives of your children and grandchildren depend on it. Because they do.
Featured image by Ivana Cajina via unsplash.com.