What can one person do to avert climate change? The answer is: a lot. This list of 101 suggestions doesn’t begin to exhaust the possibilities; use it as a creative jumping off point and come up with your own ways to make an impact.
The unifying themes here are changes in lifestyle that: (1) reduce energy usage and slow down the fires of industrialism; (2) protect and restore the environment so that its climate-stabilizing mechanisms are preserved; (3) increase individual participation in governmental and economic decisions; and (4) facilitate a deep personal commitment to caring for the Earth.
The point is not to feel guilty for not doing all 101, but to use this list to empower yourself and your friends to take action. Find one thing you can do, do it, and then find another. By such incremental steps are long journeys made.
This list is distilled from three sources: "The Greenhouse Crisis: 101 Ways to Save the Earth," published by the Greenhouse Crisis Foundation, 1130 17th St. NW, Suite 630, Washington, DC 20036; "Personal Action Guide for the Earth," published by the Transmissions Project for the UN Environment Programme, 730 Arizona Ave. #329, Santa Monica, CA 90401; and Context Institute research.
1. Insulate your home.
2. Buy energy-efficient appliances.
3. Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows.
4. Install storm windows.
5. Close off unused areas in your home from heat and air conditioning.
6. Wear warm clothing and turn down winter heat.
7. Switch to low-wattage or fluorescent light bulbs.
8. Turn off all lights that don’t need to be on.
9. Use cold water instead of hot whenever possible.
10. Opt for small-oven or stove-top cooking when preparing small meals.
11. Run dishwashers only when full.
12. Set refrigerators to 38°F, freezers to 5°F, no colder.
13. Run clothes washers full, but don’t overload them.
14. Use moderate amounts of biodegradable detergent.
15. Air-dry your laundry when possible.
16. Clean the lint screen in clothes dryers.
17. Instead of ironing, hang clothes in the bathroom while showering.
18. Take quick showers instead of baths.
19. Install water-efficient showerheads and sink-faucet aerators.
20. Install an air-assisted or composting toilet.
21. Collect rainwater and graywater for gardening use.
22. Insulate your water heater. Turn it down to 121°F.
23. Plant deciduous shade trees that protect windows from summer sun but allow it in during the winter.
24. Explore getting a solar water heater for your home.
25. Learn how to recycle all your household goods, from clothing to motor oil to appliances.
26. Start separating out your newspaper, other paper, glass, aluminum, and food wastes.
27. Encourage your local recycling center or program to start accepting plastic.
28. Urge local officials to begin roadside pickup of recyclables and hazardous wastes.
29. Encourage friends, neighbors, businesses, local organizations to recycle and sponsor recycling efforts.
30. Use recycled products, especially paper.
31. Re-use envelopes, jars, paper bags, scrap paper, etc.
32. Bring your own canvas bags to the grocery store.
33. Encourage local governments to buy recycled paper.
34. Start a recycling program where you work.
35. Limit or eliminate your use of "disposable" items.
36. Urge fast-food chains to use recyclable packaging.
37. Avoid using anything made of plastic foam. It is often made from CFCs, and it never biodegrades.
38. If your car gets less than 35 mpg, sell it, buy a small fuel-efficient model, and spend whatever money you save on home energy efficiency.
39. Maintain and tune up your vehicle regularly for maximum gas mileage.
40. Join a car pool or use public transport to commute.
41. Write to automobile manufacturers to let them know that you intend to buy the most fuel efficient car on the road.
42. Reduce your use of air conditioning.
43. Encourage auto centers to install CFC recycling equipment for auto air conditioners. Freon is released during servicing to become both a greenhouse gas and an ozone layer destroyer.
44. Remove unnecessary articles from your car. Each 100 lbs. of weight decreases fuel efficiency by 1%.
45. Don’t speed; accelerate and slow down gradually.
46. Walk or use a bicycle whenever possible.
47. Urge local governments to enact restrictions on automobile use in congested areas downtown.
48. Enjoy sports and recreational activities that use your muscles rather than gasoline and electricity.
49. Buy products that will last.
50. Rent or borrow items that you don’t use often.
51. Maintain and repair the items you own.
52. Use colored fabrics to avoid the need for bleach.
53. Use natural fiber clothing, bedding and towels.
54. Don’t buy aerosols, halon fire extinguishers, or other products containing CFCs.
55. Write to computer chip manufacturers and urge them to stop using CFC-113 as a solvent.
56. Invest your money in environmentally and socially conscious businesses.
57. Avoid rainforest products, and inform the supplier or manufacturer of your concerns.
58. Use postcards instead of letters for short messages.
59. Eat vegetarian foods as much as possible. Meat makes less efficient use of land, soil, water, and energy – and cows emit 300 liters of methane per day.
60. Buy locally produced foods; avoid buying foods that must be trucked in from great distances.
61. Read labels. Eat organic or less-processed foods.
62. Start a garden; plant a garden instead of a lawn
63. Water the garden with an underground drip system.
64. Support organic farming and gardening methods; shun chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
65. Compost kitchen and garden waste, or give it to a friend who can.
66. Inform schools, hospitals, airlines, restaurants, and the media of your food concerns.
67. Stay informed about the state of the Earth.
68. Talk to friends, relatives, and co-workers about preventing global climate change.
69. Read and support publications that educate about long-term sustainability (like this one).
70. Start a global climate change study group.
71. Educate children about sustainable living practices.
72. Xerox this list and send it to ten friends.
73. Go on a citizen diplomacy trip and talk with those you meet about averting global climate change.
74. Get involved in local tree-planting programs.
75. Join an environmental organization. If they’re not involved with climate change, get them involved.
76. Support zero population growth.
77. Support work to alleviate poverty. Poverty causes deforestation and other environmental problems.
78. Donate money to environmental organizations.
79. Support programs that aim to save rainforest areas.
80. Support solar and renewable energy development.
81. Work to protect local watershed areas.
82. Pave as little as possible. Rip up excess concrete.
83. Encourage sewage plants to compost their sludge.
84. Write your senator now in support of S. 201, the World Environment Policy Act.
85. Write your congressperson now in support of H.R. 1078, the Global Warming Prevention Act.
86. Support disarmament and the redirection of military funds to environmental restoration.
87. Write letters to the editor expressing your concern about climate change and environmental issues.
88. Support electoral candidates who run on environmental platforms.
89. Run for local office on an environmental platform.
90. Attend city council meetings and speak out for action on climate change issues.
91. Organize a citizens’ initiative to put a local "climate protection program" into place.
92. Learn how to lobby. Lobby your local, state, and national elected officials for action on climate change and environmental issues.
93. Organize a demonstration at a plant that uses CFCs.
94. In place of TV and the stereo, spend time reading, writing, drawing, telling stories, making music.
95. Live within the local climate as much as possible, rather than trying to isolate yourself from it.
96. Strive to establish good communications with friends, neighbors and family including learning conflict resolution skills.
97. Spend time seeing, hearing, and rejoicing in the beauty of the Earth. Feel your love for the Earth. Make serving the Earth your first priority.
98. Learn about the simpler, less resource-intensive lifestyles of aboriginal peoples.
99. Think often about the kind of Earth you would like to see for your grandchildren’s grandchildren.
100. While doing small things, think big. Think about redesigning cities, restructuring the economy, reconceiving humanity’s role on the Earth.
101. Pray, visualize, hope, meditate, dream.