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  • Writer's pictureVipanchi Jain

How can individuals take action?

Possibly our most requested edition so far - how can individuals take action in fighting climate change. In this edition, we share five simple steps which you can take to reduce carbon emissions.

What to expect today:

  • Interview with Shriya

  • Quick guide to sustainable living

  • Steps you can take as an individual

  • Non profit organizations where you can donate

Inspiring others through a podcast - Shriya Suriyanarayanan

Hi Shriya, can you comment about what your experience has been with inspiring people to take action individually?

“It’s a nice coincidence - much like this newsletter, my motivations to start the podcast were a) bring scattered information into one comprehensive guide so as not to overwhelm someone foraying into the world of sustainable living, and b) In an ocean of news that induces eco-anxiety, Footprint focuses on Indian entrepreneurs leading the revolution and how we can support them by taking action.

I partnered with Aawaz to launch India’s first podcast about leading a sustainable lifestyle. Over 6 months, we built a listenership of 40,000 people and featured in a national daily. However, the most rewarding part for me was when someone would reach out and share that they’ve incorporated a new practice in their lives after listening to the podcast - like setting up a kitchen compost, or testing a “meat-free” day of the week, or growing a vegetable! I truly believe these initiatives add up, and more importantly, they show brands and governments that consumers truly care - and that’s where the real change lies.”

Shriya Suriyanarayanan is an MBA student at Ross and ran a podcast for Awaaz on sustainable living - feel free to check it out!

Quick guide to sustainable living

It all starts with taking small steps. Below are some measures that an individual can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

  • Cut food waste

  • Eating more veggies

  • Use public transport

  • Switch to clean energy (takes less than 5 min!)

  • Use cloth bags - Buy one from Amazon today

Let's understand each in detail.

How individuals can take action

Cut food waste

Image Source: Photo by Kelly L

About a third of all food grown never gets eaten. If food waste were a country, it would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, after the US and China. Nearly one-quarter of emissions related to food come from food that is never eaten.

What's the impact?

  • Even if an individual reduces their food waste by half, we can save upto 120 KG of CO2 in a year, which is equivalent to carbon emissions from 13 gallons of gasoline consumed. Find out how much you can save here.

Keeping food out of the trash helps eliminate methane emissions - a powerful greenhouse gas that is 28 timesmore dangerous than CO2 in causing global warming and keeps landfills from overflowing.

Eat more veggies

Image Source: Photo by Cats Coming

Most animal-based products emit up to 50 times more carbon and consume 5 times more water than plant-based products.

What’s the impact?

  • If you cut down red meat from 5 meals every week, each individual can save upto 1,087 KG of CO2 every year, that's equivalent to 122 gallons of gasoline consumed! To calculate yours, click here.

  • Rebalancing your meals to eat more plant-based food not only increases your intake of different healthy nutrients, but eating less meat also means fewer saturated fats, which will lower your likelihood of diabetes, cancer, and heart attacks.

Get around greener

Image Source: Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh

Using electric vehicles, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation instead of cars could avoid up to 23 gigatons of emissions - that’s like turning off the world’s coal power plants for 2.3 years!

What’s the impact?

  • Even if you choose to replace 4 journeys a week with cleaner transport, you save upto 1,056 KG of CO2 in a year, which is equivalent to emissions from 118 gallons of gasoline consumed. Set your own goals here

  • There are many health benefits too - traveling by foot or bike can help you burn more calories, improve your fitness, strengthen bone health and even reduce the risk of depression.

Switch to clean energy

Image Source: Photo by Pixabay

Electricity generated from fossil fuels accounts for 25 percent of the world's total emissions. Upgrading to renewable energy like solar panels and wind in our homes is an important step to phase out fossil fuels.

What’s the impact?

  • For a two person household - switching to a clean energy plan can save 2,124 KG of CO2 in a year which is equivalent to 239 gallons of gasoline consumed. Set your own goals here.

  • Most utility operators have an option where you can request the utility company to power your home through renewable energy and you can easily make the switch online at a very low premium. Check with your utility provider now! (For e.g., assuming 500 kWh usage every month, it costs additional $2 to your monthly bill to make the switch with PG&E)

Use a cloth bag instead of plastic

Image Source: Photo by Artem Podrez

Electricity generated from fossil fuels accounts for 25 percent of the world's total emissions. Upgrading to renewable energy like solar panels and wind in our homes is Plastic pollution causes harm to humans, animals and plants through toxic pollutants. It takes hundreds of years for plastic to break, which intensifies the damage to the environment. Read more about how big the plastic problem is.

What’s the impact?

  • One single-use plastic bag is equivalent to 2 KG of CO2 emissions. Also, using one reusable bag is removing emissions of 22,000 plastic bags from the environment in a person’s lifetime, which is similar to carbon emitted by 4,951 gallons of gasoline consumed.

Cloth bags are reusable, decreasing the need to use more materials for single-use production. Buy one from Amazon today.

Non profit organizations fighting climate change

The other most asked question we have gotten is “what’s the best way to donate to organizations fighting climate change”? We present to you three options:

Clean air task force

  • CATF aims to push the technology and policy changes needed to achieve a zero-emissions, high-energy planet at an affordable cost. Their goal is to achieve zero-emissions energy, waste, agricultural, and forest management systems by 2050.

  • CATF stands out not only for its impressive impact on US climate policy but also for being a pioneer in the environmental space. It was one of the first major environmental organizations to publicly campaign against neglected super pollutants like methane.

  • You can donate to CATF here

Coalition for rainforests nations

  • With the voluntary membership of over 50 rainforest nations, the aim of this organization is to protect the world's last rainforests. Their primary goal is to manage tropical rainforest areas in support of climate stability and biodiversity conservation.

  • The REDD+ mechanism enables rainforest nations to obtain economic value for carbon reductions resulting from actions they take to reduce deforestation and preserve their rainforests.

  • You can donate to the coalition for rainforests here.

Joint SDG fund

  • Joint SDG is the United Nations flagship global fund, with 24 UN entities delivering together for sustainable development. 7 out 17 UN SDG goals are directly related to environmental conservation and fighting climate change:

    • Clean water and sanitation

    • Affordable and clean energy

    • Sustainable cities and communities

    • Responsible consumption and production

    • Climate action

    • Life below water

    • Life on land

  • The Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund is working to stimulate the strategic investments required to get the world back on track to meet the SDGs.

  • To donate to the Joint SDG fund, click here.

Source: Epa,Vox

Recommendations from the team

  • Podcast - Conversations on sustainable living with Shriya

  • DIY composting - Making your own compost bin (3 min video)

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