Save the planet?
Puh-leeze, you’re one person out of 7.7 billion. What possible difference could you make?
A lot, actually.
It’s true, the world is in a bit of a mess right now.
Between climate change, species extinction, plastic pollution and Donald Trump’s love affair with coal. Things are going pear-shaped. Fast.
That said, it’s not too late to do something about it.
Let’s Get the Bad News Out the Way
There’s no point pretending there isn’t a problem.
We can stick our fingers in our ears, we can squeeze our eyes shut, we can even take to the couch with a family-size bag of Oreos and a box of Pinot Noir.
It’s not going to change the fact that things aren’t looking good.
If you want to save the planet, you need to know what you’re up against. Once you’ve informed yourself, turn off the news and get busy being the warrior you were born to be.
The Plastic Elephant in the Room
Humans have made 8.3 billion tons of plastic since 1950. If that sounds like a lot, chew on this: Half of that was made in the last 13 years.
To make matters worse, only 30% of the plastic produced is still in use. The rest has been disposed of in one of three ways:
• 79% has gone to landfills and the environment
• 12% has been incinerated
• 9% has been recycled
A report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) paints a dire picture. If carbon dioxide levels continue to increase at the current rate, we can expect a strong risk of crisis as early as 2040.
Should things continue unchecked, worsening food shortages, wildfires, droughts and a mass die-off of coral reefs are some of the repercussions on the horizon.
It won’t be pretty.
In fact, we’ve already seen evidence of this in the intensity and frequency of weather-related events. In the past 40 years, there have been 258 weather and climate events resulting in over $1 trillion in damage.
Whether or not you live in a high-risk area, it’s worth knowing how to protect your home from extreme weather conditions. You never know when the climate will do something unexpected, so why not arm yourself with a little know-how in the meantime?
For a lot of us, climate change is an out-there topic we have no real concept of. Well, most of us, anyway. If that’s you, this primer from the brainiacs at National Geographic will help.
Our planet is in the midst of an extinction crisis. Not since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago have we experienced a worse spate of species die-offs.
When it happens naturally, extinction occurs at a rate of one to five species per year. Scientists now estimate we’re now losing species at up to 1,000 times the normal background rate.
When humans are involved, natural goes out the window.
A report issued by the United Nations found that as many as 1 million species are currently at risk of going extinct in the next few decades. Labeled the most comprehensive assessment of its kind, the report said that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.
Wait, what? Did you say humans are to blame? Erm, yes.
In case you’re wondering, here’s what losing 1 million species means for the planet — and humanity. It’s no bedtime story, that’s for sure.
Buuuut, it doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion, either.
It’s Not Too Late to Avert Disaster
When you look at the statistics, it’s easy to feel depressed. They can leave you wondering if it’s even worth the effort to try and make a difference.
After all, what possible effect can your small actions have on the planet?
Here’s the thing. It’s actually not too late to avert disaster. National Geographic claims humans have the solutions to address climate change. We just need the will to carry them out.
This means that your efforts, however small or insignificant they may seem, do have an impact. You’re making a difference, even if you can’t see it.
What Can You Do to Help Save the Planet?
Governments and businesses have a big part to play, but they can’t —and nor should they have to— shoulder the problems alone. From an individual standpoint, there is a lot we can do to help curb climate change.
1. Shrink Your Living Space
Shrinking your living space has numerous benefits. Along with lowering your mortgage and reducing the amount of time you spend cleaning and maintaining your home, you also use less of the earth’s finite resources.
Take a look at this infographic to see how tiny houses can save the earth. While we’re on the subject of living space, here are some innovative ways to reuse plastic in your garden. (If you have one, that is.)
2. Reduce Your Energy Consumption
“Swiss scientists say humanity could limit the effects if each person used just 2,000 watts of power a year. The average American consumes 12,000. A Bangladeshi uses 300.” —National Geographic
Some ways to reduce energy consumption in your home include:
• Turning off appliances at the wall
• Switching off the lights when you leave the room
• Instaliing solar panels
• Moving from halogen to LED light bulbs
3. Green Your Commute
Global carbon emissions hit an unprecedented high in 2018, with a staggering 37.1bn tonnes of the stuff being belched into the earth’s atmosphere.
According to The Guardian, “The rise is due to the growing number of cars on the roads and a renaissance of coal use.”
Seriously, isn’t it enough that eighties fashion is making a comeback?
It’s time to green your commute. Reducing your transportation emissions will benefit the planet, but it’s also better for your health and your wallet.
The David Suzuki Foundation has these suggestions to make that happen:
• Take public transport
• Ride a bike
• Switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle
• Fly less (if you do fly, make sure you offset your emissions)
Here’s a list of the best carbon offsetting programmes for 2020.
4. Switch to a Plant-Based Diet
Sporty and I are all about the veg, so we always advocate for this option when offering suggestions on how to curb climate change.
Why? Well, ditching meat, eggs and dairy is better for your health, the environment and, of course, the animals.
Making the shift from a diet that’s heavy in animal products to one that focuses on plants is key. Even CNN agrees that eating plants can help save the planet.
The leap from omnivore to vegan can seem daunting though, so it’s best to do it in stages. Take a look at our five-part series: Eating a Plant-Based Diet for Beginners (and Curious Omnivores) for how to go about it.
Alternatively, sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send you the entire series in one nifty eBook. It’s got hamsters on the cover and everything.
We’re obviously not the only ones to have written a book on the subject.
Hailed by Sanjay Gupta as ‘the prescription you need to live a long, healthy life’, The Forks Over Knives Plan will help you transition to a delicious whole-foods, plant-based diet in just twenty-eight days. It’s written by the creators of the groundbreaking documentary by the same name.
You’re probably wondering if you’ll be able to get all the necessary nutrients on a purely plant-based diet. You absolutely can. But rather than expect you to take my word for it, I’ll direct you to this infographic from the lovely folks at Peta.
When it comes to the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, the below infographic shows how much of a problem it actually is. If you’d like to delve deeper, be sure to watch Cowspiracy.
From Eco Worrier to Eco Warrior
Given the dire state of our planet, it’s easy to become a worrywart or worse, a fear monger. But that’s not going to benefit you or the planet.
A much better, not to mention more practical alternative to worrying, is to take action. The simple act of moving from ‘worrier’ to ‘warrior’ will leave you feeling uplifted and empowered.
Rather than assuming a fetal position on the couch, go out into the world and see how you can make a difference. Seriously, there are so many ways to help save the planet and most of them are really easy, too.
No cape needed. (Although, it is a nice touch.)
Being Mostly Mindful Can Make a Difference
We’d all love to be able to wave a wand and instantly fix the world’s problems. That’s not going to happen. But just because you can’t change everything, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even try.
The starfish story (scroll to the bottom of the page) does a great job of showing how, when it comes to making a difference, every act counts. It doesn’t matter if the challenges we’re facing appear insurmountable, we should still do what we can to make a difference.
Imagine if everyone embodied Mahatma Gandhi‘s call-to-action to ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’.
How cool would that be?
If we all did that, the world would be a vastly different place. What changes would you like to see? Start where you are. Do what you can.
We can’t do everything, but everyone can do something.
There are so many things you can do to help save the planet, it’s really a matter of choosing the ones that are doable for you and making the commitment to do them.
Whether that’s travelling responsibly, eating sustainably, reducing your waste or volunteering for an organisation or cause you believe in, it’s really up to you.
In your day-to-day life, embracing Meat-Free Mondays, taking your own bags when you go shopping, buying package-free, choosing local, carrying a to-go cup and saying no to straws are all easy sustainable living ideas you could implement right now.
It’s about being mostly mindful.
Remember, you can’t do everything, but everyone can do something.