9 Little Things You Can Do To Fight Climate Change Every Single Day

From buying better bulbs to making eco-friendly food choices, your daily choices matter.

December 19, 2016
holding a globe
Ben White/unsplash

We all—well, most of us—are worried about the health and future of our planet. While misinformation abounds, most scientists agree that climate change is real and human beings are the catalyst. 

But recognizing there’s a problem and taking steps to correct it are two very different things. So how can you do your part to turn the tide on climate change?

“The biggest most-effective thing people can do is to use their voice to push local, state, and federal government officials to implement system-wide changes,” says Aliya Haq, deputy director of the Clean Power Plan Initiative at the non-profit National Resources Defense Council.

“Know who your representatives are, and be in contact with them,” she says. “We all need to make those decision-makers take action, and they only do that if they feel a matter is urgent, which comes from people calling or writing to them.” (The NRDC makes it easy to speak up; here's where to go.)

If that seems intimidating—or if you’re looking for simpler, everyday ways to protect the planet—Haq has nine other good suggestions.

(See how easy it is to grow your own remedies for joint pain, heartburn, cold symptoms, and 30+ other ailments with Rodale's Grow It Heal It!)

pile of jump
Buy Less Junk

The average American’s household is overflowing with cheap, disposable, seldom-used stuff. “The mining of resources and the energy that goes into the manufacture and transportation of consumer goods is costly,” Haq says. “If we consume fewer material products, that’s going to be less impactful on the climate and the environment.” Before you click buy, consider whether you need to make that purchase. (You can start with the holidays; here's how to do a present-free holiday.)

light bulb
Ashes SItoula/unsplash
When You Do Make Purchases, Go Green

Sometimes your money speaks louder than your voice. (Most times, actually.) When consumers spend money on sustainable or eco-friendly products (like all the products at Rodales.com), that pushes manufacturers to make more of those items—and fewer of the harmful ones, Haq says.  

Levent Konuk/shutterstock
Ditch Old Appliances

A 15-year-old refrigerator or window AC unit is going to run far, far less efficiently than a new model. Consider switching them out for Energy Star rated options, which are energy efficient, Haq says. Since the U.S., government first introduced these sorts of efficiency standards in the 1980s, the changes have kept 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, she says.

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Install Better Windows

Probably nothing you do affects the planet more than your use of indoor heating and AC. If your windows are old and inefficient, you’ll lose a lot more of both, which is both costly and bad for the planet, Haq says. Consider upgrading them, and while you’re at it, seal off any drafts and insulate areas of your home—your attic, your walls—that may be allowing heat or cold air to escape. Here are 8 key ways to winterize your home, and energy-saving summer tips from southerners

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mix bird/pexels
Upgrade Your Utilities

Many utility companies now offer power or fuel from renewable sources. In some cases, you may even save money on your monthly bill by making the switch to, say, electricity powered by wind energy, Haq says. Get in touch with your utility providers to find out what options they offer. Also, investigate if there are other greener utility companies servicing your area.

Reconsider Your Food Purchases

Livestock accounts for an incredible amount of carbon dioxide and methane pollution—to name just a few of the polluting gasses associated with animal sources of food. Also, roughly 40% of all food in the U.S. ends up in the landfill, Haw says. Try to reduce waste and eat less meat whenever possible. 

Related: 9 Appalling Facts About Meat

light bulbs
Opt For These Bulbs

Haq says LED lightbulbs use 80% less energy than old-school incandescent bulbs. They also last much longer, and so work out to be cheaper in the long run.

Fill Up Your Tires

If we all kept our cars’ tires properly inflated, that would save a collective 1.2 billion gallons of gas each year, Haq says. And, yet again, this is one change that will also save you money. Check your manual for the correct inflation PSI, and make sure your tires are properly pumped up.  

valeria boltneva/pexels
Better Yet, Leave Your Car in the Garage

Less driving equals less pollution, Haq says. Whenever you can walk or ride a bike to get where you’re going, do so. When neither is an option, consider public transportation—or at least carpooling. 

Related: The Life Changing Benefits Of Ditching Your Car