If you’re anything like me, the entire climate situation leaves you feeling helpless. Massive pollution, carbon levels rising, animal habitats being destroyed all over the world–it’s all so depressing and easy to feel powerless to large corporations and governments causing many of the issues.
But the recent climate strikes energized me to start doing some serious research on ways I can improve and know that I’m doing everything within my power to become part of the solution.
I Wrote a Letter to My Congressman
First, I wrote a letter to my congressman and let him know that climate change is a critical issue and that I support legislation that will take responsibility for this climate crisis and aim to make a true positive difference. I made it clear that I will only support a candidate that cares about our planet. And I plan to send one letter each month. If all of us did this, it could create a tidal wave effect to really put pressure on our government officials.
I also did this for my city so that green initiatives can take high priority out of the projects my city council is working on. I believe that charging government officials at every level is absolutely a must–not just my congressman and local city, but my state representative as well.
They will all be getting monthly letters from me now.
I found a great free example letter online that I made some edits to, but helped me to make sure I was covering all of the most important parts.
I Learned More About My Carbon Emissions
I already ride a bike to work and eat vegetarian but I realized I’m still contributing negative carbon emissions for the environment.
First and foremost, I’m a mom. And while my husband is great at helping me do grocery and house shopping when he can, we have 2 daughters and often times he watches them while I do the shopping.
I started looking for only green certified products and ones from companies who are committed to erasing their carbon footprint. This also means you won’t find a single water bottle in our home. Nope!
While I work close enough to bike, my husband has to drive a car to work. But we made the decision together and now he carpools with others from the office.
On top of that we are finding ways to cut down our electricity usage. This means we have a rule in the house where if you leave the lights on when you leave the room, you have to put a dollar in the “guilty” jar on the kitchen table and at the end of the month we donate it to a local climate charity. We all mess up sometimes but this makes sure we hold each other accountable and this is the first month we haven’t had any money in the jar!
With all of that, I still know that I’m leaving a carbon footprint. From the food we eat, to the transportation we use, to the utilities we consume–it all causes a carbon footprint.
To make sure we are completely carbon neutral, we use a carbon footprint service that uses carbon “tokens” to offset our impact. We did a lot of research but decided on one with the best reviews that we are confident is making an impact.
Our Family Started Buying Locally and Eating Seasonally
While our family is all vegetarian, we still make a point to buy as much produce as we can that is grown locally. Buying food from far away means it had to be shipped and that leads to lots of emissions–a lot more than I was aware of when I saw this article explaining that over 32% of all trade-related emissions come from fossil fuels used to transport goods like food. Yuck!
We have a small garden in the back yard (I used this video and got some help from my husband on building the wooden “box”).
But for things we can’t grow we use a local market and support farmers who use sustainable farming methods. It does cost a bit more but after we sat down at the dinner table one night and looked at our food bills it wasn’t that much more expensive and now we are leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
Along with that, we try to eat produce that is only in-season. Sometimes we do buy fruit in the winter that we wouldn’t be able to get locally, but for the most part we try to keep this to a minimum. It is a sacrifice, but a sacrifice our family is making to become more responsible!
We Started Planting Trees Through a Trusted Organization
While our family loves to plan day hikes where we pick up trash (we make a game out of it with our two daughters) and plant trees in our neighborhood, we decided to look into other ways we could contribute positively to the environment in a more direct way.
I was surprised to find that planting trees is considered one of the most–if not the most–effective ways for combating climate change directly. They provide one of the most effective natural carbon sinks while also providing habitat to animals–especially in devastated areas like the Amazon and Borneo Rainforests where there are countless endangered species like orangutans and sloths.
My husband and I did our research and decided to use 8 Billion Trees because they are backed by 10 non-profits and plant in 18 countries around the world. By contributing to their organization we are able to plant and save way more trees than our family could ever hope to plant each month. And they also support a wildlife center to heal and rehabilitate animals hurt and misplaced from tree habitat loss.
Everything Adds Up
While the climate situation still scares me and fills me with worry almost every day, I do feel better knowing that our family is doing more to contribute in a positive way.
I’m going to keep researching and improving our commitment to saving the planet, but these changes have helped me to realize that we can all make a difference–and it isn’t a small one. Not at all. We should all feel proud knowing that we are making our impact.
Just imagine what we could accomplish if everyone did what they could.
We could truly give our planet a fighting chance and one that it desperately needs.