Just because you don’t control the government doesn’t mean you can’t stop climate change. It may often feel as if the earth lies in the hands of the people in office, but when it comes down to it, there are more people not in office than in office. Protests have become extremely common for Minnesotan students to participate in. Teenagers gathered at the Capitol on Sep. 20 which was a part of a global movement partly inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg. More recently, youth gathered in organized protests Dec. 7 throughout the metro area. Protests communicate to the government what issues they should be thinking about based on what the community wants. There are other ways besides actively protesting that will actively change the earth’s course on climate change.
1. Reduce your carbon emissions by reducing the electricity you use
CO2 emitted by humans account for 82% of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. 28% of all greenhouse gasses come from the electricity that is used day-to-day. Reducing your electricity is easy and can make a significant difference in the greenhouse gasses that you emit. Everything from turning off the lights when you leave the room, turning off your laptop when you’re not using it, and not leaving cords plugged in will decrease your carbon emissions. A more substantial way to reduce carbon emissions is by driving less, but teenagers don’t always have control over transportation to their commitments. It sounds minuscule to unplug a phone charger or turn off the lights, but those small actions repeated time and time again, account for just as much as making an effort to drive less.
2. Adopt a few Low-Impact & Zero-Waste ideas
The Low-Impact and Zero-Waste movements have the same goal of reducing your physical waste to lower your impact on the earth. They follow the same principles as “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” in addition to composting. In following Low-Impact and Zero-Waste lifestyles, you reduce the number of things you bring into your possession, and once you don’t need something anymore, you find a way to reuse it, give it to someone who could still use it or recycle or compost it. The main difference between low-impact and zero-waste is that zero-waste has the goal to reduce the waste you produce to absolutely nothing whereas the low-impact movement focuses on making small changes and habits to reduce your waste as much as possible and replacing wastes to more natural alternatives. A few swaps include filling reusable bottles instead of using disposable ones, replacing a plastic toothbrush with a bamboo wooden one, and replace plastic bags with reusable bags. Plastic is the main waste to avoid since 8% of the world’s oil production goes to producing plastics, and the material never decomposes. The majority of plastic ends up in the oceans and poisoning marine animals.
3. Eat more environmentally friendly
There are two ways to eat more environmentally friendly: eating low-carbon and reducing your food waste. Eating low-carbon means choosing foods that result in lower greenhouse gas emissions. Foods with the largest greenhouse gas emissions are meats, whereas the lowest foods are plant-based. Reducing your food waste involves finding ways to not throw away food, including sharing with others and composting. Both low-carbon diets and reducing food waste reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses that are released during the process of producing food by decreasing the amount of food produced.
4. Educate yourself and educate others
The more youth learns about the environment and climate change, the more they will learn about what they can do to better it. It’s the same for adults. Youth has the power to teach their parents and other adults in their lives about the environment and how to better it. The more people acting to improve the environment, the quicker the earth will improve.
In order to solve climate change, society’s habits need to change to reduce greenhouse gasses. Protesting is important to get the government to change their ways, but a larger impact could be made sooner if society were to change their ways now.