There’s no time to waste. We all need to change our behavior to fight climate change. This is a crisis.
We need collective action to fight climate change, but we also cannot afford to wait for the local, state and federal government to create new policies – even though they are badly needed. We surely should be advocating for them, but we need to also change our behavior.
These 10 behavior changes will impact your lifestyle in profound ways and influence those around you and BIG BUSINESS. The consumer is the boss! If we say we don’t want wasteful packing anymore or fast fashion or gas-powered cars, manufacturers will change their products. They already are.
Once you get started, it’s easy to continue to find new opportunities to grow your commitment to living zero waste and living more sustainably.
- Go zero waste as much as possible – that means eliminating all single-use items from your life. Start with plastic, which is on track to exceed fuel as the #1 end use of fossil fuels. Skip the plastic straws, bags, utensils, bottles, cups, plates and more. Bring your own utensils, thermoses, mugs, etc. everywhere you go. Even when you take out food from restaurants, bring a plastic container from a previous takeout or better yet your own Glasslock or Pyrex container in your own bag.
- Reduce food waste – buy less, eat more of what you buy (clean out the refrigerator night; eat it or freeze it), and save money in the process. We don’t landfill in CT but your food scraps, uneaten food and spoiled food is being incinerated in a waste to energy facility in Bridgeport. Food scraps do not belong down the drain or in the household waste stream. Compost in your yard, right in your kitchen with a small, electric composting unit or vermicomposting unit or take your food scraps to the town transfer stations – Darien is doing this and Greenwich is working on it – or hire Curbside Compost to pick up your scraps curbside where it’s taken to a composting farm to return the nutrients to the soil.
- Recycle all used textiles – they are worth $100/ton in the circular economy. Even H&M is taking back old clothes. Almost 6% of MSW is textiles and they can be taken to town transfer stations and collection boxes. Host one at your child’s school for free and receive $100/ton in rebates.
- Buy used, swap and become a thrifter instead of buying new, and when you have to buy new, purchase with purpose. Buy from B Corps and other socially conscious and sustainable brands that don’t put profits before people and the environment. Learn more about B Corps from our local expert, Jenifer Gorin of Impact Growth Partners.
- Drive an electric vehicle. Many new models are on the market from traditional car manufacturers, federal and state incentives remain in place for now and prices are falling due to rapid advancements in battery technology. The recently introduced Driving America Forward Act would grant each automaker a $7,000 tax credit for an additional 400,000 vehicles after it exhausts the first 200,000 vehicles eligible for tax credits. It would shorten the phase-out schedule to nine months. The credits are paid directly to consumers, who can write them off on their tax returns. Right now GM and Tesla have begun their phase out periods.
- Get synthetic chemicals out of your life – In your food and beverages, cleaning products, yard, home, clothing, personal care – use a zero emissions lawn service, stop using synthetic chemicals like RoundUp which has been proven to cause cancer, and fertilizers, use less water by unlawning and bit and planting clover or native pollinator-friendly plants to provide food and habitat for our endangered insects, especially hundreds of species of native bees. Plant native milkweed for the Monarchs. In your home – no high VOC paints and varnishes – no skin care and make up that are not in the organic or clean beauty category with transparency. Natural means nothing and it’s not regulated.
- Avoid throwing things out. In a circular economy, waste doesn’t exist because all material has value. Donate, upcycle, recycled, repurpose, rework instead. It’s more work sometimes, but we have a huge waste problem and every bit matters.
- Buy local and organic food sold loose – skip the plastic packaging found in stores by shopping from farms and farmers markets or farm to door services. Join a CSA. You are also investing in food resiliency. Buy in bulk whenever you can and bring your own containers to fill.
- Get an energy audit to make sure you’re not wasting energy and money. Sometimes it’s just a little more attic insulation or some draft guards that are needed to lower your fuel bills. There are state rebates for upgrading appliances, heating and cooling systems and low-cost loans for the purchase of solar systems.
- Invest your hard-earned money in the New Economy, not in businesses that are refusing to address the climate change crisis and continue to undermine the work of others working hard, taking risks and innovating to solve our greatest societal problem: climate change.
What ideas do you have to share? Please comment below.