I’m not going to lie to you: Saving the world and preserving our herd is a MASSIVE undertaking.
That being said, as big and scary as it may seem, it can be done if we work together and start to make changes in the way that we collectively think and act when it comes to our impact on our environment both locally and globally.
Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about global warming in the media. Without diving into the politics of it all, let’s take a look at what we know about what has been happening to our planet.
According to NASA, 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history. The next 15 hottest years were 2001-2015 with the exception of 1998 which tied 2009 as the 6th hottest year on record.
What’s causing this? Gas.
There has been a massive increase in the amount of CO2 and other types of air pollutants in our atmosphere since the industrial revolution… You know, since we (humans) decided that we really liked technology and making things. These gasses sit in the upper atmosphere and trap the heat and radiation that come from the sun Naturally, this heat and radiation would its way back out into space but, since it doesn’t, the planet warmer.
A degree here and there might not seem like much but it actually has catastrophic consequences to the environment. From glaciers melting to massive coral reefs dying, ecosystems all around the planet are changing rapidly. Most of these changes should have taken hundreds, even thousands of years but are being expedited by the continual warming of the planet.
“But I’m just one person”
Being just one of 7 billion people might make you seem insignificant but nothing could be further from the truth, every little bit helps and is a step in the right direction. One of the greatest things you can do is lead by example and be an inspiration to those around you.
If even 2% of the world tried to make a difference, that’d be 140,000,000 people. If each of those people inspired 1 person to make a change in their lifestyle, that’d be a huge increase. If we kept that going, we would literally save the world.
Here at The Elephant Pants, we are firm believers in the power of doing a little bit of good. The path to where we need to be starts with one small step, and that small step is probably a lot smaller than you think it.
Let’s take a look at what else you can do.
Never underestimate the power of a well educated mind. The first step to take in this fight is to understand it, inside and out. Learn about not only what you can do, but why. Why are these actions important? What will they change? What is the desired outcome? Being able to answer questions like these will help you further strategize about what kind of actions you can take while also providing you with the knowledge necessary to make a compelling argument when you are trying to inspire others.
Do you know what actions are being taken (or not being taken) by your local governments to prevent global warming? Our Environmental policies lie in the hands of all kinds of government officials and most of them have a job due to being voted into office by people like you.
Do yourself a favor and take some time to research where your local and federal politicians stand on environmental issues. If you don’t agree with them or think somebody else has better ideas, use your vote as a vehicle for the change you’re trying to see around you.
Know where your money is going
Money makes the world go round but it can also get it to stop. Look into the policies and environmental impact of the companies behind the products, services, and establishments that you use in your day to day. If they don’t align with your environmental beliefs, then find a company that does. We live in a time where there is an ethical and environmentally conscious version of pretty much everything, you just have to do some homework. Try to support companies that take steps to minimize their impact or EVEN BETTER negate it entirely.
Measure your footprint
Do you actually know what your environmental impact is? Are you aware of the consequences, good or otherwise, that your habits have? Pay attention to all of the things that you do day in and day out that have become second nature.
Look at how you use resources like hot water and electricity, and how often you do so. Get to know how much power your electronics are using and, in turn, how much that power can cost the environment. Sometimes it can be hard to remember that, technically speaking, charging your phone at night is responsible for a tiny portion of the greenhouse gasses that are being released into the atmosphere day after day.
Do an audit of what kinds of the products you use and how many can be bought in bulk to minimize on waste caused by excessive packaging and too many trips to the store.
Eating habits can vary vastly from person to person but most commercially produced food has a pretty sizable carbon footprint. Find out where your food is coming from and what goes into making it. You might be surprised at what you find.
How about transportation? Do you drive often? Do you use public transportation? How often and for what distances? All forms of motorized transportation have an effect on the environment so it’s important to know how much of that is your contribution.
Check out this quiz for a fun way to learn about your footprint.
Now, shrink it.
Now comes the fun part. Take everything that you’ve learned about your life and figure out how to do more with less. Figure out where you can cut corners and also what you simply cannot avoid.
Minimize your resource consumption by making sure you don’t leave the lights or water on unnecessarily. Make sure to run dishwashers and laundry machines only when they are full or as close to it as you can get. Unplug devices when they aren’t in use and stop leaving your phone plugged in when it’s fully charged. Make your life a bit more romantic by using more candles and get smarter by reading more and watching less T.V.
Look into the kinds of foods you eat and see if you can source them locally to minimize the impact created when they have to be transported to you. Locally sourced goods also tend to be produced on a smaller scale which generally leads to more environmentally friendly business practices. Buying bulk is also a great idea, as is shopping with reusable bags.
If you eat meat, try and eat little bit less, as the meat industry requires a has a MASSIVE footprint. One option is to try Meatless Mondays, where you make sure to not eat meat one day a week. If everybody in the United States participated in Meatless Mondays, we would negate an ecological footprint equal to that of 7.6 million cars… Yes, you read that correctly.
Learn more about Meatless Monday and pledge to participate here.
When it comes to transit, find out what you can’t give up and then try to cut corners everywhere else. Ride your bike more, or even better… walk. Try to carpool with friends or coworkers if possible and, if you can’t, public transportation is always a great idea compared to driving yourself.
Whether it’s your food or other products that you use daily, pretty much everything is either made out of, contains, or is packaged in plastic. Plastic is not biodegradable like many other materials yet is one of our most produced commodities. Additionally, more than 100,000 marine animals and one million birds die from ingesting plastic. Minimizing your plastic use is key to shrinking your carbon footprint as is recycling when possible.
Learn more about the harms of disposable plastic here.
It’s pretty strange that, even though we live in such a vastly interconnected society, so many people still don’t know what is actually going on out there or how bad it really is. When it comes to educating them, he biggest asset in your tool-chest is yourself. Find groups and organizations in your area that are trying to make a difference and jump in with them. Clean up a park, hand out information packets, or help organize event's like this year’s March For Science on Earth Day, all you have to do is some research and you can find plenty of places where your voice can be heard.
If you can’t find one then MAKE ONE…
Find yourself some like-minded people and organize campaigns aimed at helping your local or global community through various forms of activism. Hold rallies to educate your neighbors, fundraise to implement greener alternatives to local infrastructure, set up carpools in minimize fossil fuel use… The possibilities are really endless. There are so many tiny changes that you can instigate if you just speak up from a place of passionate good will!
Now GET OUT THERE!
Whether you’re eating one less burger a week, walking to work, or completely detaching yourself from modern living, there are more than enough options out there when it comes to minimizing your ecological footprint in a way that fits with your lifestyle. With a bit of passions, perseverance, and genuine good vibes you can help us all make the changes that we need to make in order to change this world for the better.