The New York Times’ David Wallace-Wells recently published an article titled “The Uninhabitable Earth,” and it tells us of a time in the not-so-distant future where climate change will finally win the race against humans. If you stumbled upon this article, chances are that the situations outlined by Wallace-Wells are a very present and real fear for you, as they should be, but there are real and present ways that as a millennial you can do your part to fight climate change and help the environment.
Did you know that Costa Rica’s jungles already possess levels of humidity so high that all it would take is 105-degree weather to cook a human inside and out? That temperature may seem a lot less far-fetch when you realize that in 2015 the heat index in the Middle East reached up to 163 degrees. We know that population numbers are continuously growing, as of the date of this article they estimated the number of humans on earth was 7.347 billion people, that is more than double of what it was in 1960!
So what can you do to help fight climate change?
1. Stop using plastic bags
It’s such a small change, but you’d be surprised how much it helps! Earthpolicy.org estimates that a trillion plastic bags are used each year worldwide. That is 2 million bags every minute–what!?
We know that plastic bags have many ecological effects, mostly due to how difficult it is to dispose of them and how long it takes to decompose plastic (10-1,000 years). But did you also know that the energy that it takes to produce just 12 plastic bags could actually fuel a car? Just 12 little bags that will most likely only be used once.
Plastic bags are of course a great convenience, they are at the register and we don’t even have to think about them twice. But you care about the environment and the future of everyone who will come after the Millennials, just remember that everytime you say no to a plastic bag you are earning yourself a little pat on the back.
Many states and countries have taken steps towards banning plastic bags, some entirely, some at grocery stores, but now it’s your turn. Stock up on clothing bags or reusable plastic bags and be prepared whenever you know you are heading out to shop. I know it may seem weird to walk into Macy’s with a reusable bag, but smart is the new sexy so don’t be afraid to own it.
Reusable shopping bags are surprisingly inexpensive, and they are also readily given by many salespeople. Contact your real estate agent (if you have one), or contact a local real estate office, title company, even bank office, they are all likely to have many of these in stock to be given away.
Trolley Bags – $35.99
Reinforced Bag (set of 10) – $18.00
If you want a larger bag option, Ikea sells awesome plastic bags for a very reasonable price. I used to love using these while walking to my laundry mat, they fit everything!
Frakta Shopping Bag – $12.00
2. Change your transportation habits
Depending on where you live, there may be very limiting options in your method of transportation, but there are always viable alternatives to allow you to travel with ease and help the environment while you are at it.
The first option is to carpool. Find a buddy who drives the same way you do, or maybe a family member who drives nearby and take turns making the drive to and from work. If maybe you do not know anybody who drives in that direction, there is plenty of resources online that can help make your carpool necessities very plausible.
Take a look at Rideshare or Sharetheride which let you figure out the best route to your destination. There are also apps like iCarpool to facilitate your carpool, or if you live in a city where Lyft or Uber have launched ride sharing, that is also an effective way to share a ride while saving a few bucks.
3. Be mindful of your thermostat
Did you know that you could save up to 3% per every degree that you drop (or add) from your bill? Imagine saving $10 from a $100 bill? or even $20 or $30 in one month? That could mean a huge difference in a millennial budget. You know can spare more change to getting those car fixes you have been needing, or even just updating your wardrobe to match your required dress code at work.
So you saved some change for your environment, now you may be curious about why this is good for the environment, and the truth is rather simple. Most of our energy sources come from non-renewable energy, so saving energy means less wasteful efforts. Not to mention that some energy also causes pollution and well–you catch the drift.
Have a pesky roommate who is addicted to the warmth of cold? Don’t be afraid to sit them down and have a conversation with them. If the green angle does not move them, chances are that the pocket-savings will.
4. Reduce your waste
One of the easiest ways to reduce waste is by minimizing the use of non-reusable bags (which we already covered), if you are already planning on taking that on, then you are well on your way to making a difference. However, there are many other ways to reduce your waste, and it is important that you take into account just how many of the everyday things are causing a negative impact on the environment.
For instance, try buying in bulk. This may not be obvious, but although individually wrapped items seem convenient and easy to manage, bulk items will reduce your waste since you are not getting rid of all of those individual wraps. Packaging makes up to 30% of an item’s weight which means you are saving a lot of money by buying big bulk items which you can then reuse its containers.
If food scraps are your problem, try using them for compost if you have the opportunity. Food scraps account for 11% of waste and are something that can easily be mixed in order to create a compost bin.
Lastly, don’t forget to always do your best to buy recycled and reused! A lot of stores and brands are encouraging consumers to purchase their eco-friendly products by advertising their origin, benefits, and sometimes even charitable contributions. H&M has an entire eco-conscious collection that also happens to be insanely affordable. You can also take a trip to your local thrift shop and see what fun reusable finds you can style to make vintage
5. Spread the word and speak up
One of the first questions Millennials always ask is, “well how much difference can one person make?” and that is a very valid question! Here is another fun fact for you, did you know that the average person has a sphere of influence of 250 people? That’s an average person. so provided maybe you’re big on campus, or maybe you’re a social media star, that number can get pretty big.
Naturally you are not expected to convince every single person to go green (although kudos if you can), but if you can so much as talk to 5, 10, 15, people about the changes you are making in your life and why you encourage them to do the same–well you will definitely make a difference.
It may seem daunting and a little preachy, but don’t be afraid to simply share your passion for Mother Earth. You will be surprised to see how well people respond when they see the drive and love you have for something, give it a shot and report back, we’d love to see how you’re taking on the challenge of making the world a little greener.