Fighting climate change. What can you do to help?

Written By: Aaheli Datta 
NEW DELHI Published: Oct 25, 2021, 12:28 PM(IST)

A firefighter tries to extinguish a wildfire near Marmaris, Turkey, August 1. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Countries around the world are taking steps to cut carbon emissions, with the likes of the European Union and China aiming to reach net zero emissions by the middle of this century. 

The world is getting hotter by the day and it is all our fault. If left unchecked, climate change is going to threaten every aspect of our lives. 

The current aim is to control temperature rise within 1.5 degree celsius. But the world is already about 1.2 C warmer than it was at the end of the 19th century. Its effects are already being felt across the world. 

This year alone, countries in Europe, the US and India have all recorded extreme rainfall, leading to heavy flooding and loss of lives. 

Countries in West Asia, Africa and North America have experienced extreme heatwaves. 

There were 47,057 wildfires in the United States from January 2021 to October this year. 

But the good news is that the world is finally paying attention. Countries around the world are taking steps to cut carbon emissions, with the likes of the European Union and China aiming to reach net zero emissions by the middle of this century. 

But while governments are responsible for taking steps to implement environment friendly policy, you and I also have the power to implement changes in our daily lives that, in the long run, will help. 

Here are the things that we can do:

Shop wisely 

Before you even step out to shop, make sure you have a reusable shopping bag, made from natural material like jute. Always choose reusable over single use. This way, not only will you have less trash to deal with, but so will the environment. 

Avoid using plastic as much as possible. This includes your plastic bags, bottles, cups, straws, plates, fruit and vegetable packaging. It is a difficult material to decompose, so it sticks around the environment for ages, harming wildlife and marine life in the process. 

bottles

Employees sort bottles in a plastic recycling factory near Nairobi, Kenya. (Reuters Photo)

Shopping second hand is another way to help out. It takes 700 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make just one plain T-shirt. Choose to shop at a thrift or vintage shop. Repurpose old cloths. This also applies to other consumer goods like toys, shoes, appliances, furniture, cars and more. Upcycling is a great way to turn trash to treasure. 

Watch what you eat 

Food production is a major driver of wildlife extinction. It is also a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for 60% of biodiversity loss. Farming animals for meat and dairy requires large quantities of water and feed. Producing meat also creates more carbon dioxide than vegetables, grains and legumes. Shifting to a plant-based diet will not only help the environment but also your food expenditure. 
Travel responsibly 

One of the most efficient ways of lowering your impact on the environment is to reduce carbon footprint caused by travel. Walk, cycle or use the public transport whenever you need to travel anywhere. Take fewer flights. Shift to using an electric car if possible. 

Conserve natural resources

We are taught in school that the earth has limited natural resources. Recycling goes a long way in reducing waste that could end up in a landfill. Conserve water and electricity. Use energy efficient bulbs, insulate your home better, buy energy star- certified appliances if you need to upgrade your appliances. You can use your purchasing power for good. What better way to use your hard-earned money than to protect the planet? 

Use your voice 

It is up to our generation to save our planet. Speaking up is one of the most powerful things you can do. Not only to politicians, brands and businesses but also to people around you who might not know better. Use your voice not only to advocate, but also to educate. Social media is an effective way to amplify your message and reach a wider audience. Even creating awareness in your own family and friends can lead to positive outcomes. 

Now it may not be possible for one individual to do all the things listed. A lot of it also depends on socio-economic factors and the country you live in. But I hope you'll agree  that doing even a little goes a long way if everyone does it. 

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