As renowned Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki said, “In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.” The climate crisis feels overwhelmingly huge, and it’s easy to get discouraged, apathetic, grief-stricken, or scared. But taking action—with courage and love for ourselves, our future, and our home —helps counteract all of that. Together we can do this, especially if we act now.
In honour of Earth Day on April 22, 2022, here are 7 things you can do as an individual and community member about the climate crisis.
7 Ways To Make A Big Impact This Earth Day
1. Reduce Your Food Waste
The food supply chain accounts for approximately one-quarter of all worldwide GHG emissions, according to a University of Oxford study. This is due to many factors, including deforestation to make more farmland and the freshwater used to grow our produce and grains that animals (cows, mostly) eat. But it also includes the resources—most often fossil fuels, ie. gas—necessary to power the processes of harvesting, manufacturing, processing and packaging, transporting and distributing our food. If that food is lost or wasted along the food chain, all of those resources plus the food go to waste.
In Canada, 58% of all food is lost or wasted every year! That’s 56.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions created annually. But 32% of this food could be redirected to support Canadians. That’s a huge impact that we can all strive to make!. In our homes, we can all make small changes to curb our food waste. Last year, Second Harvest rescued and redistributed 41 million pounds of food across Canada. That’s 162 million pounds of GHG averted by food rescue!
2. Talk About the Climate Crisis This Earth Day
It may sound simple, but talking about the climate crisis is an important place to start. Talk about your fears and concerns with your family, friends, loved ones, colleagues, peers, community members, social followers, politicians, and so on. Voicing your concerns is the first step toward taking action. It’s the first step toward finding solutions and joining together with others to make real change happen! It all starts from a seed of an idea and the willingness to have an important conversation.
3. Use Your Voice to Hold Politicians and Policies Accountable
Your voice, opinions, and action matter. So does your vote. Reach out to your local, provincial, and national governments, look into their policies, and hold them accountable. What are they doing to help slow climate change? How do their words translate into real action? What steps are they taking to prepare us and lessen the severity of the impact of the crisis on our homes, livelihoods, health, natural ecosystems, and communities?
How can you take action? Ask governmental leaders those hard questions. Sign petitions, go to climate rallies, write emails, hold politicians and their promises and policies accountable. Demand action, including greater protection and care for our natural ecosystems and resources and investments toward green and sustainable energy solutions.
4. Get Active and Get Moving Outside
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, transportation in Canada accounts for 24% of climate-polluting emissions. That’s a close second to the oil and gas industry. If we all do our small part, we can make a big difference. How you choose to get around every day makes a big impact on the planet and our climate—as well as your health, wellness, happiness, and wallet. The emphasis here is on consumer choice.
Instead of driving everywhere in your gas-guzzler car, see how long it will take to bike or walk there. Get outside! If not for the vitamin D and fresh air, it will help remind you of what you’re fighting for (or against). Or, see if you can make that one-off meeting a Zoom chat and save yourself the trip. Spend that commuter time outside.
5. Practice Smart and Fuel-Efficient Driving
For those times when you do have to drive to get groceries, commute, or drop the kids off somewhere, keep your carbon footprint in mind. If you have two cars, take the smaller, more fuel-efficient car (or electric car, if you have one).
Or, consider carpooling, taking public transportation, or carsharing with others. When you are driving, take your foot off of the gas wherever possible. If there’s a stoplight ahead, why not cruise to a stop? (Ignore the honks behind you—you’re just doing your part!)
6. Fly Less—and Make a HUGE Impact
We all need a vacation every once in a while. Our changing climate requires us to practice sustainable travel, until we have another option for powering planes, we must be mindful of our extraordinary footprint when flying. This coming Earth Day, take a moment to consider your upcoming travel plans and find a way to lessen your environmental impact. That could be combining trips that require flying and/or exploring greener ways to travel and get around once you’ve arrived.
According to a Goodside eBook on reducing carbon footprints, “an economy-class return flight from Los Angeles to Sydney emits about 3.36 tCO2e per passenger. That’s more than 20 percent of the average American’s annual carbon footprint (and more than double our target footprint)… One surf vacation down under could mean the loss of about 10 square meters of Arctic ice—that’s more than 100 square feet.”
7. Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
Your home is where you hold the most power and influence. Plus, that’s where little changes can make a big difference to your footprint and monthly bills. There are a million ways to make your home more efficient, green, and eco-friendly—a significant one being how you fuel and power your home.
To name just a few smaller upgrades, swap your light bulbs out to energy-efficient ones. When your old appliances need upgrading, opt for the most eco-friendly ones. Use energy-efficient settings, such as cold water washes rather than hot. Turn off the lights and heat or air conditioning when you’re not home or in the room—or use good old-fashioned windows and natural light.
Together, We’ve Got This!
Together, we can take these steps at home, in our communities, or at work in order to protect our beautiful blue and green planet and all those living here. Millions of people are taking action in small and big ways. Be kind to yourself and make an impact when and where you can. After all, it’s Earth Day every day.