By Jori Hamilton
It’s hard not to get discouraged by slow progress in the fight against climate change. Governments seem content with putting this massive, dangerous issue on the backburner. But as we enter a new year, it’s time to refocus and plan for how you can prioritize combating climate change in 2022.
The fight is happening on two fronts. First, the business and government battle is being raged to create and enforce cleaner standards. Then, there are the efforts of individuals to live green lifestyles and reduce their personal carbon emissions.
Both of these battles are important to win if we are to combat climate change and its consequences. Fortunately, you can do your part to create both a systemic and an individual difference in the fight for a greener world by prioritizing the following actions.
1. Make a Voting Plan
So much of our potential as individuals to do both individual and systemic good comes from our ability to enact change through voting. Your representatives should prioritize the same issues that you do and support change for the better via the legislation they enact or shut down. By making your voice heard in the voting booth, you extend your ability to make a difference in the real world.
This means that it is never too early to make a voting plan. Elections take place in most communities all the time for local officials in one capacity or another. These are roles that will make the decisions on how your community handles climate change in the immediate future, so learning candidate stances is important.
In 2022, senatorial and congressional elections will be underway. Find out what other seats are up for grabs in your area as you make the most of your vote in the fight against climate change. After all, our representatives are the ones on the front lines of drafting corporate regulations and climate standards — both at a national level and at a local one.
2. Become a Conscientious Consumer
Next, you can make combating climate change a priority for yourself by becoming a more conscientious consumer. While this can be a hard task to navigate, the digital world makes it easier than ever to find out if the business we buy from uses sustainable practices. The age of social media holds companies to higher standards of accountability.
Additionally, like-minded consumers have already done much of the work, sometimes even venturing into entrepreneurship to fill a niche with green alternatives. Eco-friendly alternatives exist for everything from dish soap to plastic bags. Even paint can be eco-friendly if you seek out varieties with low concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
But be wary: not everything is as sustainable as it seems. Buying locally, for instance, may not be as green as it could be due to the comparative efficiency of bulk goods in the supply chain. However, for many locally grown or cultivated products like honey, this is still the best choice for a sustainable community.
Support local agriculture, biodiversity, and green business practices. As a result, you can do your part to combat the destructive changes of an altered climate.
3. Write to Your Representatives
However, you don’t have to go it alone. Your representatives are obligated by the nature of their office to represent your interests. If pollutive practices are taking place in your community, don’t hesitate to reach out to public officials. Similarly, if you see the potential for renewable energy integration, explore the idea with the community.
Across the world, renewable energy use has spiked. Renewables became the only source of energy not to experience a decline in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic settled into the economy. This makes clean energy feasible for communities all over.
But there are hurdles to clear before renewable energy can be implemented at scale. Eighty percent of the energy produced in the U.S. in 2019 was from fossil fuels, and to shift our reliance on these sources will take time, initiative, and public funds. Write to your representatives to urge the passing of any green initiatives in your community and request that they go further.
This method should invoke a response from the representative explaining their stance and actions on the matter. From here, you might get a better sense of how you can get involved.
4. Join Local Climate Groups
Another great way to ensure your priority stays on climate change throughout 2022 is to join a group dedicated to the fight. From grassroots organizations to nonprofit programs you can run from home, the options are boundless when it comes to pooling your dedication for a healthy climate with like-minded individuals.
The pandemic has made all kinds of community organizing difficult, but climate groups are finding at-home ways to help all the same. From native plant restoration in a backyard to promoting climate organizations online, social distancing is easy while still forming community relationships.
By joining one of these groups, you gain the social benefits and accountability that makes it easier to complete a task like the following.
5. Make at Least One Green Lifestyle Change
Finally, prioritize a greener world by fighting climate change with one lifestyle change. This can be anything that will make a significant difference in your annual carbon output. You can be green all year long by making smart, clean choices.
A green lifestyle change can be anything that ultimately improves your health, finances, and environment, making it truly sustainable. Examples include but aren’t limited to:
- Riding a bike instead of driving
- Using reusable shopping bags
- Converting to paperless mail and business communication
- Using energy-efficient appliances
- Unplugging your electronics whenever possible
To constitute a lifestyle change capable of making an actual difference, these practices have to be habitual rather than one-time deals. Commit to at least one green lifestyle change in 2022 and you’ll find yourself prioritizing cleaner living in other ways, too.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in topics related to politics, urban living, society, and health. If you’d like to learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.