“Climate change” has developed into one of the most-trending words of 2016 on social media websites. It has also become a topic of conversation and controversy in the presidential campaign, with some candidates believing it is a problem (Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders) and others believing it is a hoax (Donald Trump). But while the candidates debate, the rest of us must confront some very important issues in our own lives, and we must decide what actions we can take. As all of us know, our planet is being negatively affected by excessive carbon emissions, oil spills, and ocean garbage patches, as well as by melting glaciers in the Arctic and rising temperatures around the globe.
Each year since 1970s, we have set aside one day– “Earth Day,” to focus on these issues. But while progress has been made in curbing emissions and living a greener life, not everyone is on board. There are still many climate change deniers, and well-funded oil company lobbyists, in addition to a public that often does not want to make any sacrifices to save our planet.
Recently, there was an important climate conference in Paris, in December 2015, where world leaders got together to come up with strategies to address the problem of climate change; 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate agreement, setting out a global action plan to put the world on track to limit global warming to well below 2°C. But while that is an encouraging event, what about the rest of us? We are faced with a responsibility of our own: to decide how we can reduce our own carbon footprint, conserve energy and make every day an “Earth Day.”
Below are a few easy steps that all of us can take to help the planet. I hope you will consider them and decide to take some positive action; these are tips that will make a difference– not just on Earth Day, but every day:
- Invest in energy saving light bulbs. Switch off any light bulbs and unplug appliances as well as mobile phone chargers that are not in use. It not only saves energy, it’s the easiest way to cut down cost on the electricity bills.
- Use cold water instead of hot water when doing laundry as it cuts down a lot of electricity that is used to heat water. Energy Star certified clothes washers use about 25% less energy and 40% less water than regular washers.
- Reduce carbon emissions by walking, biking or carpooling to go to work, class, running errands and doing weekly groceries.
- Save paper by printing on both sides or emailing it. Reading notes on a laptop/tablet also helps reduce waste paper used for reading material.
- Recycle paper cups/plates, spoons and especially plastic trash bags. Recycling bins for plastic bags only are accessible at most grocery stores.
- Turn down central heating slightly (try just 1 to 2 degrees). Even 1 degree will help reduce your heating bill by about 8%
- Buy local foods and vegetables that are in season, instead of ones that are flown in to reduce fuel usage and carbon emissions.
- Avoid buying bottled water; use tap water or filter it and carry a re-usable water bottle. It helps in reducing plastic waste.
- Recycle old clothes. Some stores offer discounts to customers bringing in old clothes for recycling.
- Plant at least one tree a year; this helps in reducing carbon emissions and provides a greener environment.