It’s time we made the climate change fight personal!

Sabrina Almeida

Fighting climate change is as much of an individual obligation as it is a national and global one.

If you drive a gas guzzler, indulge in single-use plastics, are constantly throwing food in the garbage bin and leaving the lights on in unused rooms, or have your electronic devices always plugged in – then you’re partly responsible for the air pollution, melting glaciers and rising temperatures that we all complain about.

Given that each one of us has contributed to environmental degradation over our lifetimes, naturally the onus of saving the planet also lies on each of our shoulders.

While world leaders play a critical role in formulating strategies and guiding the mass movement, we can all help limit global warming by transitioning to greener lifestyles. From travel to power usage and food consumption, the choices we make determine whether we’re helping to turn the situation around or escalating the crisis.

Eating more vegetables and fruits, for instance, significantly lowers one’s environmental impact. Meat production is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses. 

According to Greenpeace the climate impact of meat is roughly equivalent to all the driving and flying of every car, truck, and plane in the world. From deforestation to the killing of wildlife and land grabbing, livestock farming leaves a trail of destruction in its wake. 

So, it turns out that a plant-based diet is healthy not just for humans but also Mother Earth. Reducing or eliminating meat intake and opting for local produce reduces ‘food miles’ and consequently its ecological impact.

Many may not be aware of the connection between food waste and the environment. Throwing food out not only contributes to global hunger, it’s also a waste of all the resources that went into producing and bringing it to our tables. But that’s not all! The US Environmental Protection Agency says, when food goes to the landfill, it’s similar to tying food in a plastic bag. The wasted food rots and produces methane which is a toxic gas. So, let’s try and use all of what we buy and compost any leftovers so that the nutrients return to the soil.

Did you know that conserving energy helps save money and the planet? Energy efficiency is not just about smaller bills. Much of our electricity and heat is powered by coal, oil, and gas. Consuming less power helps reduce the toxic fumes released by power plants while conserving the earth’s natural resources and protecting ecosystems from destruction. 

Switching to LED lights and energy-efficient appliances reduces the burden on the power grid and our planet. Lowering heating and cooling settings, washing clothes in cold water and hanging them to dry instead of using a dryer (when possible), are other simple ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint. If you want to take it to the next level, consider installing solar panels on the roof to generate clean energy for your home.

Most of us don’t think twice about driving to a store that’s just a few metres away. Walking or cycling instead will contribute to a greener earth and healthier body. We can all make a difference by taking public transport or carpooling to work, parties and social events.

Planning to buy a car? Electric vehicles are greener than petrol or diesel-powered ones. Going electric will help reduce air pollution and you won’t have to worry about rising gas prices either.

Few of us can resist the temptation of cheap, trendy clothing or the latest gadgets. Electronics, clothes, and other items we buy cause carbon emissions at each point in production — from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing and transporting goods to the consumer. Studies show the fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Improperly disposed of e-waste is also one of the greatest environmental polluters. 

Buy fewer things, recycle, and repair what you can to help save the earth.

As a community Indians and South Asians are environmentally insensitive. Meaning, most of us don’t really care about how we affect the planet or each other. But it’s time to stop being selfish. The convenience the industrial and technological revolutions afforded us have devastated Mother Earth. The price will be paid by future generations.

Making small but significant changes in our daily lives can help keep the earth clean and green for our progeny and theirs.




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