Warning, this is a rant about nothing happening to address the climate crisis. Yes, we have COVID to deal with. But, after months of dealing with COVID and totally forgetting there is even a climate crisis happening, I am feeling compelled to get it out there where it should be . . . front and center.
People will say we can’t fix this ourselves . . . but are we just going to wait around while the US takes humanity off the cliff?
I am currently reading a book, “The Right to be Cold” by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. This is an Inuit woman who was born in the Arctic near Quebec. If anyone knows anything about the climate crisis, it is the Inuit people. There, they find firsthand the melting of the Arctic and disappearing food sources that they have hunted forever. I am highly recommending this book as your next read.
Everything I have been looking at lately is very depressing. And, don’t think Biden is going to do anything major where climate is concerned. While we are looking at any substantial progress, the global climate meetings that started in 1992 haven’t made any significant progress either. Perhaps that is because we are all tied to the same economic system . . . capitalism . . . and the 8-5 job. Endless growth. That’s what they want! And, a consumer economy. How do you change that?
And, for the record, the US consumes the most resources and pollutes the most per person in the world. People point to China. Yes, they have 1.4 billion people but they do not live like we do, and we get most of our products from China. The US only has something like 320 million people. The rest of the world is actually trying to do something about the climate crisis or consumes very little next to the US.
So, back to the original question . . . what are you doing about the climate crisis? I am hoping that the previous post on Rob Greenfield growing all his food for a year and foregoing the grocery store gave people some ideas . . . or raised the bar on what we can do individually . . . or just inspired people to do more.
While we are waiting for the US to implement any climate legislation that will actually do something, let’s look at what we can do. You may already do many things on this list but you may be inspired to add something to your current lifestyle of reducing your carbon footprint. Obviously, we need to reduce what we purchase. If we do that, then there is less demand for the products and less pollution to manufacture them.
Foo Foo Foam Soap – Let’s start there. I have been seeing a lot of it lately so it is on my brain. Yes, it smells delicious but let’s get rid of it. It is not essential. As far as all soap goes, I get dish soap, dilute it for dishes, and put it into old hand soap containers. Bar soap is also the way to go and making your own detergent.
Paper Towels – No need for them either. Use a cloth towel.
Bottled Water – For some reason, bottled water makes my blood boil. It is blatantly stealing water from other people and selling it for a profit . . . not to mention the amount of oil to make the container and the fact that very little of the bottles get recycled. If you need some inspiration, watch “Blue Gold” or “Flow.” Both are great documentaries on water. The only people that should be drinking bottled water are people in Flint, MI, or anyone else in a similar situation.
Link for Blue Gold — https://www.hydratelife.org/blue-gold-world-water-wars/
Link for Flow — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow:_For_Love_of_Water
Composting – Food waste is what I am talking about. I composted food scraps in my small lot in Elgin, IL, for 19 years and was never inundated with critters. They are there anyway. Get over it or buy a composting bin. Food waste makes up a big portion of the waste that goes into a landfill. Are we just going to dig more holes for garbage?
Line Drying Clothes – I am not handwashing clothes . . . not yet anyway . . . but have been line drying for close to 10 years. It never occurred to me until a friend mentioned that she did it. Our Elgin Green Groups 350 meetings would start with sharing things we did to be energy efficient, etc. It was almost a game to see who could out do the other. That’s where the line drying idea started. It took almost 6 months before it actually took hold in my brain to do it. Sometimes we need a little time for the idea to grow.
Meat Mondays – Yes, it is really Meatless Mondays but let’s change it to Meat Mondays. Then people can still hang onto their meat and not think it is totally going away. I say meat is like a religion. People do not want to give up their meat. I had been a vegetarian for over ten years before I gave up dairy. It can be challenging to find other things to eat . . . but they are out there. Some of the best vegan ice cream options are at your store! Beans and rice are a great protein. If you need some recipes, I can help you out!
If you need some more help deciding about reducing your meat, here is a link from the Union of Concerned Scientists who will really explain it.
Processed Food – Yes, get rid of this, too. It will be better for your health to start with. Buy whole foods to eat. Just look at the embodied energy in all of those food products. A friend from Germany said that they don’t have the grocery stores that we have in the US. When I realized what embodied energy was, looking at the thousands of food products on the shelves made my head want to explode. Embodied energy is all the energy . . . namely in the amount of CO2 in each product . . . it took to produce. It doesn’t have to be food either. It could be anything. It can take 8-9 manufacturing plants or more to produce a product. Land has to be tilled, planted, harvested, and transported for any grain needed for a product. All of the manufacturing plants need heat, air conditioning, electricity to run, along with all the transportation from one facility to another, and all that comes from burning fossil fuels.
Turning Down the Heat – Wear more clothes and use more blankets. It works.
Air Conditioning – Plant a shade tree, pour cold water on yourself, and turn it down in most all stores and buildings. It is way too cold. We never had it growing up and survived. If people are in better health, they could deal with it. A friend said they know someone in Arizona with an adobe house, and they don’t have air conditioning. An exception here, apartments with only one window may need air conditioning.
Stuff – We buy way too much stuff. Get used things or get it fixed if is broken. Or just talk yourself out of buying it in the first place.
Clothes – How many do we really need? I read an article once on the water and chemicals needed to produce clothes. It’s insane. Not to mention all of the microfibers in our water now! Just think, if you live in a city with city water, you are probably drinking plastic. Hmm . . . that’s a lovely thought. This link below from the Conscious Challenge details all the water and chemicals used to make clothes.
Tiny Houses – We have been surrounded by Mac-Mansions in our suburban housing developments in the US . . . but no more . . . because the Tiny House movement is here. It has been here for a number of years, thankfully. We put on a Tiny House presentation at our library in Elgin, IL. We usually had a small group of 20 for our environmental lifestyle changes but not for the Tiny House presentation. There were 100 people there, and the builder of tiny houses who presented streamed it live, and there were 2,000 people who saw it. My cabin is considered a tiny house at 312 sq. ft. with a sleeping loft. It is not the typical 8’ wide by 20’+ long. It is roomy! This article by Property Management – Tiny House Statistics details how the tiny house industry is growing. It makes buying a home more affordable. One of the challenges is finding zoning that will accept them. Hopefully that will change in the future. Besides being affordable, it takes so much less energy to heat, etc.
Recycling – Most of us recycle. It is the feel good action for the planet. It is within our reach to do. It takes CO2 to make the product that we are recycling . . . and it takes CO2 to remake it, along with finding a company that will turn it back into what it was to begin with. That is not always possible or it can take more CO2 to process it again. As the article by Renee Cho, “Recycling in the U.S is Broken: How Do We Fix It?” states, the recycled item may be contaminated and then it just goes into a landfill or incinerator. Glass and metal can be recycled indefinitely but plastics can’t. Food waste, which is outside of recyclables makes up the bulk of waste. Cities on the west coast like LA and San Francisco are successful in keeping trash from going to the landfill at a minimum. The article has some states with solutions, like deposits on bottles and ban on plastic bags. An article worth reading.
“Recycling in the U. S. Is Broken: How Do We Fix It?” By Renee Cho,
March 13, 2020, Columbia University
Deep Energy Retrofits – Buildings contribute a lot of CO2 to the atmosphere, and our homes are in that group. According to the article by Nearby Engineers, the US Green Building Council states that buildings contribute 39% of the CO2. That is a lot. We have our homes but our lifestyles support the buildings where we work, shop, schools, museums, restaurants, hospitals, etc. When life was simpler, people lived in dwellings and that was about it. Deep energy retrofits are costly, too, especially on older homes. We need to do more than think that putting up some solar panels will fix the climate crisis. Getting off natural gas and propane for heating is a real challenge.
“How Buildings Produce Carbon Emissions … And How to Stop Them” by Chelsey Bipat on September 19, 2018
There are many solutions within our grasp . . . and much to think about. I hope that you will make at least one change and tell at least one person. The government is not acting on the climate crisis.
We have to do something.