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Little Things Make Up Big Things: Small Actions You Can Take Today to Make a Big Difference Tomorrow

We have been hearing about climate change and how we, as a planet, are heading towards our destruction for years.  So why is it so difficult for so many to make meaningful changes that will save our home?  

 

It’s interesting how we can think of ourselves as being “too small” to make a difference, yet “big enough” to allow our own needs and wants to supersede those of the future generations. 

 

In our minds, the size of the issue in comparison to the effects we can create, good or bad, feels negligible. It’s hard for us to imagine how the sacrifice on our part in the short term will result in a healthier planet years from now. We think, “I’m only one in eight billion, I can hide within the masses”. 

 

“People in general are positive to climate change and carbon neutrality but these can be abstract concepts and remote to many people’s daily lives,” says UN Environment climate change expert Niklas Hagelberg.  

 

On the other hand, we overvalue the benefits we get in the present, because there is a selfish part in all of us, that is too lazy to care. That part either denies there is a problem, thinks it’s someone else’s problem, or puts off addressing the problem.   

 

It requires humility to accept ownership of our part of the problem before we can commit to be a part of the solution.  Together with a sense of gratitude for Mother Earth and the recognition of its value, it becomes easier to adjust the way we live and make our behaviors more planet friendly. 

 

Viewing the fight against climate change as behavior change brings the issue more down to earth and doable. Choosing to do your part despite what others might do will make you inherently happier, and you can take pride in being part of the solution.  

 

In the information age, it’s easy to find out different ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Here are three changes out of the many to make your behaviors greener: 


Throw Out Less Food 

 

Food wastes account for 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions, and more than half of our food waste comes from households. We are all guilty of throwing out food at one point or another, and part of the problem is not being able to see what is in front of the fridge.  The solution, as counter intuitive as it seems, is to put foods that go bad faster in the front.  If you can see it, you can eat it.  It saves you money and lessens the methane gas created by decomposing organic waste.   

 

Make Meat a Treat 

 

Eating a more plant-based diet and treating meat like an indulgence is good for your body and the planet.  Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions and beef production sits at the top of the list of producers of methane.  Making adjustments to your diet to reduce the amount of meat has a big impact.  A study done by the European Union found making ⅔ of meals vegan could cut food-related carbon emissions by 60%.   

 

Maybe you are not ready to make ⅔ of your meal’s vegan, maybe just one meal a week or one day a week?  However you start, it is the commitment towards changing for the better you should be proud of.   

 

Vegetables have a bad rep for not being tasty, but knowing how to cook them can make a world of difference in your appreciation for them.  A simple and easy way is to roast them.  Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sugars and intensifies flavors.  Adding herbs and spices up their game even more, making veggies the star and not the afterthought.   

 

Buy Better, but Buy Less 

 

Consider buying things (within your budget) of better quality over things that are cheaper in both price and quality.  That way, what we own lasts longer, and can reduce the amount we consume.   

A big contributor to greenhouse emissions is the fashion industry– 10%, which is more than the shipping and aviation industry combined.  To meet the Paris Accord target to keep the rise in global temperature below 1.5 °C (34.7 °F), fashion production needs to be cut by 50%.   

 

For consumers, that means owning 74 garments, 20 outfits, and buying five new things a year.  If that seems like an impossible ask, you can buy second hand or repair what you have.  The times you are buying new, look for ethical brands that have a reputation of good quality.   

 

You might feel like David is going after Goliath fighting a problem as immense as climate change. Sure, it’s easy to feel discouraged by the seemingly inconsequential effects of one person’s change in behavior.  But it is not hopeless, we can influence one another to build up a force for change. 

 

According to Rare, a conservation organization, scaling up green behavioral changes could reduce about one-third of the projected global emissions between 2020 to 2050. 

 

We can be optimistic about the future, if each of us recognizes our own power and makes choices that show our gratitude for the planet that sustains us. 

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