Simple ways to reduce waste can also help those that are forced even deeper into poverty by climate change.
Increasing levels of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide raise temperatures on Earth and cause myriad problems such as rising sea levels, melting snow and ice, extreme heat, fires, drought, floods and extreme storms.
These hazards have displaced 21.5 million people per year since 2008. Scientists predict that the amount of people displaced due to climate change will increase in the future.
Regions with large populations that are at high risk for natural hazards and lack the resources to adequately prepare for natural disasters are at the highest risk for displacement. Asia and Pacific Island nations are most at risk for displacement.
Although most people aren’t scientists trained to research methods to stop climate change, there are simple ways to reduce waste in an effort to slow the effects of climate change. Here are some everyday examples:
- Save plastic bags for reuse.
Each year Americans use 100 billion plastic shopping bags. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce all these bags. This comes at a great cost to the environment, with emissions from petroleum production polluting the air and water.
- Cut out other plastic products.
There is an area in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas full of plastic waste. Pack your lunch and pour drinks in reusable containers, and be sure to recycle plastic bottles. Women can try a menstrual cup instead of other feminine hygiene products that have plastic wrappers or applicators.
- Buy second-hand.
Shop thrift stores for items such as clothing, housewares, holiday decorations and more and buy used books and music rather than new. All these simple ways to reduce waste add up!
- Use public transport.
Take the bus, streetcar or subway instead of driving. Or, get fit by riding your bike or walking.
- Carpool with others or combine trips.
For example, do grocery shopping after work before going home rather than making separate trips. Sites like Zimride can help connect with others from the same company or university looking to carpool.
- Grow food, buy local and cut down on wasted food.
Agriculture emits more greenhouse gasses than transportation. As the increasing global population increases the demand for food, experts predict there will be a global food shortage by 2050 because there is not enough land or water to fulfill this demand. Help reduce this demand by planting a small garden. Homegrown tomatoes, lettuce, berries and herbs are easy for beginners. Food that isn’t homegrown should be bought in season and from local farmers, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Vegan diets are more eco-friendly because food produced on farms can be consumed directly by humans rather than being used as animal feed. A vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, 30 square feet of forested land and 45 pounds of grain, according to Esquire Middle East.
If it’s impossible to go vegetarian or vegan, at least reduce the amount of meat and other animal products in your diet. Try having a Meatless Monday like American families during World War I and II who rationed their consumption for the war effort.
Though they may seem small, simple ways to reduce waste help those displaced by climate change if everyone does their part to help.
– Cassie Lipp