What can you do?

What can you do?

Showing environmental documentaries to students and community members that are followed by a discussion, I always hear the question: “What can I do to make this problem or issue less severe?” The following is like a check list of things that each of us can and should do to safeguard this planet and all her inhabitants. Do not think that you must achieve all at once but rather begin somewhere and strive to add another ASAP. On the other hand, do not pet yourself too easy on the shoulder and think that you do enough if you achieved some of the goals. Life should be an everlasting strive to do better – but be patient with yourself – if you push too hard you might get frustrated and give up totally. Motivate your friends and family but focus on what you can do before preaching – always walk the talk!
  • Personal Life:
    • Eat only “happy” meat (humanely kept, free-ranging, grass-fed) and reduce how often, e.g. once a week.
    • Avoid meat, eggs, and dairy from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also called megafarms or factory farms. Use the scorecards from The Cornucopia Institute (https://www.cornucopia.org) for help.
    • Only use reusable bags (NEVER ever use plastic bags again)
    • Only us reusable bottles for your drinks, preferably stainless steel (NEVER ever use plastic bottles again)
    • Use only LED light bulbs
    • Offset your energy bill by routing it through a provider like Arcadia Power (http://www.arcadiapower.com), which are buying Green-e Energy certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) from wind farms to match your exact monthly usage. This certifies that that when energy that you consume at home is matched with RECs, you are using clean, wind energy.
    • Drive a hybrid – or even better – an electric car – or even better but hard in the US, no car at all. In any case try carpooling with other family members or colleagues at your work.
    • Minimize commuting by choosing to live where you work.
    • Ride your bike for short distance commute or shopping.
    • Fly and drive the least possible. Consider other vacation destinations – and ask yourself if jetting or cruising thousands of miles for a few days in the sun is really necessary and does it really recreate you?
    • Buy your food organically and locally grown. Even better is starting to grow some of your food yourself. Even a porch, patio or balcony allows to grow quite a variety of vegetables. In any case, do not use chemicals or fertilizer but rather old-fashioned weeding and composting.
    • Reduce or better avoid chemicals in your house and garden.
    • Boycott products that have a heavy environmental footprint.
    • Go abroad and live in another country for a while to expand your horizon.
    • Spend time in nature alone once a week to engage in a dialog with places, animals, and plants. They do listen and they have a lot to tell and teach us.
    • At your house and in your backyard, identify and make connections to individual animals and plants – do you know how they are doing? - would you realize if they are not there anymore?
    • Allow yourself to do nothing occasionally and do not seek distractions to empty your mind and allow your mind to weave your personal biography.
    • Recycle and compost – almost nothing will go into the landfill anymore.
    • Keep your electronics going as long as possible, especially computers, laptops, tablets, and phones. If you must upgrade, recycle them properly. A list of certified e-recyclers can be found at: http://e-stewards.org/find-a-recycler/
    • Upgrade your appliances to use minimal energy (e.g. Energy Star with best rating).
    • Install central switches to completely switch off electric appliances and avoid vampire-currents in standby-mode.
    • Insulate your house, especially the basement, attic and siding contracting with an environmentally concerned and well trained professional recommended by somebody you know with knowledge about “Green Building”. Cellulose from recycled paper is better than fiberglass.
    • Install solar panels and wind turbines to become independent from fossil fuels. There are low-interest loans in most states. In some states, you can even rent-to-own your installation.
 
  • Communal Life / Politics
    • Attend administrative meetings at your city, county or state and speak up on environmental issues. Visit, phone or email your representatives and tell them that environmental issues are very important to you.
    • Sign petitions on paper or on the internet. There is power in numbers.
    • Work or volunteer in an organization (non-governmental organizations, NGOs) fighting for the reduction of the human impact on one of the pressing environmental issues.
    • Work/volunteer in / for a political party or a representative that honestly works on environmental issues such as The Green Party or Progressive Democrats.
    • Consider running for office, preferably municipal or state to make a difference. No vacancy is too small to change things from within!

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