I'm not a believer in the theory that every person needs to change the way they live to end climate change. I like the way I live and I don't want to change that. I like driving my minivan and I get all kinds of stuff shipped in cardboard boxes (murdered trees) from Amazon. Despite all this non-green living, I strongly believe that there are things that every person CAN do to limit greenhouse gases and climate change.
What You Can Do Starting Today
Talk about climate change - Ever hear of a cognitive miser? I hadn't either, but I'm one and so are you. We are all cognitive misers. As humans, we are inundated with lots of information. We have to make sense of it all somehow and we are all just a little lazy, so we tend to believe what people we like and respect say. So if you like and respect your brother and your father and your neighbor Bob and they all say that climate change is a hoax, then you are likely to believe that climate change is a hoax. On the other hand, if your sister and your girlfriend and your pastor tell you that climate change is real and it's a problem for you and your children, then you are more likely to believe them and feel inspired to do something about it.
So where am I going with this? Talk to your friends and family about why you think it's important to care about the environment and climate change. Keep it simple and respectful. Katharine Hayhoe, a Christian evangelical and climate scientist, wrote about this in the Huffington Post a few weeks ago as well as in an article in TruthOut.org. Study up on what's happening (I'll keep trying my best to break it down here), and then say something (nicely, you catch more flies with honey...)
Drive Less or Drive Electric
You know that driving a gas guzzler is bad for the environment. But if driving less or finding trucks and minivans that are fuel efficient was easy and inexpensive we'd all be doing it. I mention driving less and electric cars only because a list of things you can do to limit greenhouse gases needs to say something about cars. Otherwise, the green police will get me. Personally, I believe the auto industry needs to give us better, greener car choices. This is happening, but the topic is more than I have space for here.
Change What You Eat
Eat less meat (mostly red meat like beef and lamb). Sorry! I know, I love burgers too!! Really. In n' Out burgers and fries were my dietary staple during both pregnancies. (First of all, I'm not proud of that, and second, my kids turned out just fine!)
"Animal-based foods in the American diet accounted for about 85 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 and about 90 percent of all agricultural land use", according to a study by Nature and article by Climate Central. "Reducing global beef consumption is critical to keeping global warming to within 2°C (3.6°F) as outlined in the Paris climate agreement."
Eat more fruits, veggies, and grains instead. May I suggest Michael Pollan's Food Rules? It turns out it's an earth friendly diet as well as a bikini friendly diet. I'm certainly no vegetarian, but I do try to embrace Pollan's ideas on what I eat and feed my family. Basically, I TRY to eat and feed my family real food. Mostly plants, not too much.
The EWG has a great graphic that breaks down how your food choices affect the climate if you're interested.
Composting (Stay With Me Here)
Ask your garbage collection company to provide curbside composting (and start doing it if your garbage company already provides the service). I'm not asking you to do back yard composting, but by all means do that if you feel the inclination. Personally, I know that I should do back yard composting because food waste that goes into landfills produce methane (a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide), but it's gross! It's stinky, and even my husband (who grew up on an actual farm!) refuses to open that nasty composter to put stuff into it.
Fortunately, there's nothing gross about curbside composting. It's one more bin to take out, and you need to separate your trash from the food scraps (soon to be composted) but it's no big deal when you get used to it. Therefore, you would have three or four bins instead of two or three. 1.) Actual garbage that goes to a landfill and can not be recycled 2.) Recycling 4.) Yard waste (if that goes into a bin) and 3.) Compost - Food scraps, coffee filters, greasy paper, etc.