Top Individual Actions to Address Climate Change

 As outdoor enthusiasts, we must be more conscious of the most effective strategies and actions we can implement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to our changing climate. In May of 2023, the IPSOS Global Advisors Survey used data collection and fieldwork methods to better understand New Zealanders’ perspectives on climate change. Key findings from IPSOS’ study suggest that only 23 percent of New Zealanders identified climate change as one of the country’s three most critical issues today. Notably, the study determined that many New Zealanders perceive specific sustainable actions as having a more significant impact on emission reduction than they do. It is a common misconception to believe that recycling, producing and growing your food, and buying fewer items as a consumer are the most impactful ways to reduce your carbon footprint. In actuality, industry, electricity, and heat production are the most significant contributors to global warming. IPSOS found that only 12 percent of New Zealanders ranked these three contributors as top contributors to global warming. Critically, however, IPSOS’ study suggests that having accessible information on how to act daily is one of the top three drivers to encourage individuals to take effective actions.

Below is some information on four critical ways to make a sustainable impact:

Use Your Voice

One of the most important ways to fight climate change is simply talking about it. Make your voice heard by politicians and local governments. Whether that be by speaking out against systems and government decisions that prohibit sustainable choices or voting in an upcoming election, your voice matters. Using social media platforms to voice your passion for environmental conservation can inspire positive change. Engaging in constructive climate conversations at the dinner table with friends and family and improving your climate change knowledge gives you the opportunity to be a climate advocate. Make sure to utilize the community and resources around you to keep up to date on current climate conversations. You need not be a climate scientist or environmentalist to become a climate leader!

Alter Your Transportation Methods

Burning fossil fuels like diesel and gasoline releases excessive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Throughout the globe, transportation accounts for around  ⅕ of global CO2 emissions. According to Our World In Data, three-quarters of these emissions result from road travel from passenger vehicles and freight-carrying trucks. The air pollution caused by car emissions also presents a severe threat to public health. This air pollution is proven to increase the risk of dementia and the health of unborn babies. Minimizing your vehicle use and taking a bike ride to work or planning a carpool to get the kids in your neighborhood to school are simple ways that can help to reduce your carbon footprint. Take an electric bike or scooter into town rather than ordering an Uber. Be crafty and flexible in your transportation methods to benefit your sustainability impact. Look into fuel-efficient cars; don’t start your vehicle until you are ready to drive. Take public transportation whenever possible, and do your best to look into environmentally friendly transportation options. Support policy and law that promotes global, national, and regional environmentally friendly transportation. 

Use Renewable Energy

Utilizing energy sources that do not produce greenhouse gas emissions is a critical way to live more sustainably. Using green energy is an environmentally friendly alternative to non-renewable energy. Green energy is created from natural resources and tends to be renewable and cost-effective. You can utilize renewable energy by powering your home with solar and wind power, saving you money in the long term. Using renewable energy also benefits public health by decreasing the amount of pollutants entering the air. In addition, transitioning to energy systems based on renewable technologies will positively impact our global economy by increasing job creation and the growth related to the green economy. Significantly, our planet’s future depends on how we produce energy, so using clean energy is critical for minimizing the massive effects of climate change. 

Consider a Plant-Based Diet

Eating less meat and dairy is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. There is also scientific evidence to suggest that high-fiber plant-based diets are better for your health. Eating plants rather than eating animals who eat plants works to reduce the environmental burden of animal agriculture. In addition, plant-based foods are typically more water-efficient than animal foods. Animal agriculture utilizes enormous amounts of water. Moreover, methane is the most significant contributor to greenhouse gasses in animal agriculture and accounts for 65 percent of animal agriculture’s gas emissions. It is one of the two leading greenhouse gasses in New Zealand, along with Carbon Dioxide. According to a 2019 review in the Nutritional Views journal, the carbon emissions linked to a single gram of beef protein are over 7.5 times higher than the emissions associated with a gram of plant protein. When you are keen, consider substituting a burger for a pumpkin risotto when you go out to lunch with a friend, and thank yourself for being kind to Papatūānuku(Mother Earth).

More Ways to Make a Difference

We must rely on more than just our government and local NGOs to support climate change initiatives. As New Zealanders, we must be our own climate advocates in our day-to-day lives to protect the beauty and spirit of Aotearoa. Believe in your POWer to make positive change! Take it one day at a time, whether that be through a conversation, a salad for lunch, a bike ride to work, or a solar power installation in your home. You got this!

Climate change is an issue that affects us all, but the good news is that we can all take action to help alleviate it! You don’t have to be a scientist or a politician to make a difference. Here are some more fun and easy ways for everyone to get involved in the fight against climate change. Every little effort counts, and these actions can fit into anyone’s daily routine.

Ride a Bike or Take a Walk

Why not make your commute a fun adventure? Biking or walking not only improves your health but reduces carbon emissions. Plus, it’s a great way to explore your surroundings and connect with nature.

Embrace Meatless Mondays

Going meatless one day a week can reduce your carbon footprint. Try cooking up some exciting plant-based meals. There’s a whole world of delicious vegetarian recipes to discover, and you may even find a new favorite dish!

Unplug and Unwind

Did you know that devices left plugged in can still consume energy? Unplugging chargers and gadgets when not in use helps conserve energy. Plus, it’s an excellent excuse to disconnect and spend quality time with loved ones.

Get Thrifty and Upcycle

Consider buying second-hand household goods and clothes, or participating in clothes swapping with friends. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also reduce waste and have fun finding unique pieces. Try your local Salvation Army, Hospice Shop or second hand stores, like Wanaka’s famous Wastebusters, for pre-loved household products, clothes and all manner of gear.

Plant a Tree (or a Garden!)

Planting a tree or starting a garden is a joyful way to contribute positively to the environment. Whether it’s a windowsill herb garden or a backyard forest, your green thumb can make a difference.

Use Reusable Items

Switching to reusable water bottles, shopping bags, and straws is a simple way to cut down on plastic waste. Plus, many reusable items come in stylish designs, adding some flair to your daily routine.

Become a Home Energy Detective

Investigate ways to make your home more energy-efficient. From LED bulbs to weather stripping, there are numerous small upgrades that can save energy. Plus, they might save you some money on your energy bills!

Support Local and Sustainable Products

Shopping at community markets and supporting local artisans can reduce the environmental impact of shipping and promote sustainable practices. It’s also a great way to connect with your community and enjoy fresh, local flavors.

Spread the Word

Share your enthusiasm for protecting the planet with friends and family. Sometimes, a friendly conversation can inspire others to join in on the climate-positive actions. Maybe join POW!

Have Fun with DIY Projects

Why buy when you can make? From homemade cleaning products to DIY décor, getting crafty can reduce waste and add a personal touch to your home.

Taking steps to fight climate change doesn’t have to be a chore or a sacrifice. These actions are about making positive choices that can enrich our lives and the world around us. So go ahead, pick one (or more!) of these actions and start having fun with it. Together, we can make a difference, one small step at a time!