9 steps consumers can take to combat climate change

A major U.N. report issued Monday has found that humans must act now to cut greenhouse gas emissions before the effects of climate change worsen.

Here are some changes you can make to slow the effects of climate change:

1. Take advantage of opportunities to use renewable energy: Consider investing in an energy-efficient electric vehicle, using solar panels to power your house or even just switching out old appliances like washers and dryers to newer, more efficient models to avoid using a lot of fossil fuels, says the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

2. Switch up your diet with less meat: Try to limit or even cut out your consumption of meat and other animal products. According to a report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if the world’s population were to cut out red meat, land-use emissions could be reduced by 48%. If the population would adopt a fully vegetarian diet, land-use emissions would be reduced by 55% and a fully vegan diet by 67%.

3. Consider your travel habits: Every time one takes a trip on a plane or drives a car, carbon dioxide is released. If you can’t avoid using your car regularly, try carpooling, getting your car serviced more often to keep it efficient, use the cruise control to save gas or just turn your air conditioning down, says the New York Times. Don’t leave your car idle in a drive-thru or while sitting in a parking lot. According to WBTV, keeping your car idle for two minutes can use as much gas as driving a mile. Going a year without a car could save around 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide from being released, according to a 2017 study from researchers at Lund University and the University of British Columbia. Also, try to limit frequent airplane trips which cause huge emissions.

4. Reduce, reuse, recycle: Waste generated by humans typically ends up sitting in landfills or being incinerated, causing dangerous emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Check every package you use to see if it’s recyclable in your area. Before throwing things away, consider how you could repair it, use it a different way or even donate the item.

5. Stick to a shopping list: Overbuying food and food waste contributes to climate change. The UN’s report discovered that the energy that goes into production, harvesting and transporting wasted food generates around 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. If you can, try and draft a grocery shopping list and think through how much food you’re buying to avoid wasting excess food.

6. Check old appliances: Older appliances could be costing you — and the planet. Old fridges are “energy hogs” and could be costing you around $100 a year in wasted energy, according to the NRDC, as reported in the New York Times. Check for an Energy Star symbol on any new appliances you buy, which signals that the model is energy-efficient.

7. Change your bulbs: Save even more energy by transitioning your current lightbulbs to LED bulbs, which use 80% less energy than conventional bulbs, says the NRDC.

8. Dress for the occasion: Try to switch out your shopping habits for a more sustainable approach. Don’t buy clothing you won’t wear, try to purchase secondhand items and consider the environmental impact of which type of fabric the garment is made of, the World Resources Institute suggests as reported in the New York Times. Also, donate old clothes or make unwearable pieces into reusable cloth rags.

9. Get involved: Reach out to your representatives and vote for policies that will reduce carbon emissions and support environmentally-friendly movements. Encourage your friends and family to do the same, recommends Blue Habits.

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