The Responsible Consumer
Amanda is a morning person. She gets up every morning at 6am and chugs water from her filtered water bottle. Afterwards she heads to the bathroom and gets ready for the day. Her bathroom is well stocked with toothpaste tablets, sustainable makeup wipes, and eco-friendly products. She pulls on the newly thrifted outfit she purchased the other day and heads off to work.
Amanda is a responsible consumer.
Not everyone has to be like Amanda. Not all of us have the time or inclination to look up sustainable living or invest in a completely sustainable lifestyle. But there ARE ways to be a more responsible consumer.
The Paris Agreement calls for global warming temperature rise to be limited to 1.5 degrees celsius. To make this happen, we need sufficient action via the government, but we also need to take personal responsibility by becoming more sustainable consumers.
By transforming the energy, transport, food, agriculture and forestry systems we can play our part in creating a more livable planet.
One of the most cost-effective ways for consumers to help reduce greenhouse gasses is to use cleaner sources of energy, and to save when possible.
So what is clean energy? Green energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower are all renewable sources. While the most common (though pricier) option for utilizing green energy is to install solar panels, it isn’t your only option.
- Buy renewable energy certificates (RECs), which is a way to track the amount of renewable energy generated and sold.
- Buy green energy from your electricity company. Most electric companies have green pricing programs where consumers can get their electricity straight from green power sources.
Other ways you can help (and save yourself some money in the process) include investing in ENERGY STAR certified appliances, looking into ENERGY STAR certified housing, and properly sealing and insulating your home or simply just unplugging your electronics when you’re done using them.
Too lazy to unplug? Try smart smart plugs or power strips.
The use of cars drives up (no pun intended) greenhouse gas emissions like no other. Switching to an electric vehicle is a great way to combat this.
Don’t want to dish out the cash for a new car?
Other ways include choosing greener transportation methods like walking, biking, using public transportation, or carpooling.
Eat less meat and dairy. Yes, I know. This one doesn’t sound that fun. Fun fact: It actually takes less energy, land and water to produce plant-based foods. This means eating your veggies actually results in less greenhouse gas emissions.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab that celery stick.
What’s the best way to reduce waste? Just don’t make any,
Easier said than done right? Wrong. Reducing waste can be as simple as those 3 R’s we all learned in school: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
- Choose sustainable products. Are you used to buying water bottles in bulk? Try getting a brita filter. Do you go through paper towels like it’s water? Switch to reusable towels. You don’t have to change your whole life today. Baby steps, remember?
- Shop second-hand. The average American spends $2000 a year on clothing. According to stats, consumers purchase 60% more clothing items every year as well. Where does that leave America? It leaves us with 17 million tons of textile waste annually. Thrifting and investing in sustainable clothing options helps reduce these numbers.
- Recycle. This one speaks for itself. We all seem to know what recycling is, but have difficulty implementing this one. Cardboard, paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass can all be recycled, guys. Not only does this reduce emissions, it also minimizes the need for more landfills.
Saving the planet does seem like a difficult task when you think from the lens of individual accountability. But personal action does matter. Sometimes something as small as spreading awareness can make a huge impact.