Practical things you can do for the environment

This page is for those who already believe in climate change and want to find practical things to do about it. (In other words, it's written for me, and hopefully for you too!)

The list is broken into three parts:


 

light-bulb-earth

energy

  • install solar panels
  • use less electricity
  • insulation is more energy efficient than heating and cooling
  • accept that temperatures go up and down seasonally and don't aim to eradicate all temperature fluctuations with technology
  • energy efficient light bulbs
  • switch things off when not using them (establish this as a habit)
  • buy energy efficient products
  • food: prefer locally grown produce
  • wash clothes in cold (not hot) water
  • hang to dry instead of using an electric dryer
  • blankets and warm clothes in preference to heaters
  • use less petrol/gas
  • walk or ride a bike or use public transport or carpool or telecommute instead of single occupant car driving (including taxis and uber) or flying
  • don't iron clothes, this is just a waste of energy

 

roof

waste

  • identify sources of waste and address them
  • really, look at your waste: what are your main sources of waste?
  • reuse items that you can reuse, e.g. plastic bags, scrap paper for notes, craft items, glass jars
  • recycle waste that can be recycled
  • favor products with less packaging
  • what single-use items can you find an alternative to? e.g. keep-cup over disposable coffee cup, reusable shopping bag (mandatory in Australia now)
  • don't buy more than you need
  • buy experiences instead of things (better for mental health too)
  • favor items made from recycled materials
  • compost organic matter instead of sending it to landfill
  • food wastage: reduce portion sizes until there is no uneaten food
  • have a clothes-swap party with your local friends, to increase the value you get from clothes you do buy
  • join a "buy nothing" group and swap instead of buying new or discarding
  • buy or sell second items instead of buying new or discarding, e.g. at gumtree
  • repair broken appliances: some cafes have regular repair meetups and you can start your own, or simply:
  • find local repairers via social media, or
  • teach yourself (or others) to repair things via online videos
  • repair clothing: can you sow a button or darn a sock?
  • there are "thing libraries" where you can loan things such as tools instead of books

 

pedestrian

other

The following things may be too much for you. Even if they are, don't discard the things above!

  • don't vote for politicians who refute basic science. it's not only bad for the environment... what other basic facts are they in denial about?
  • vote for political parties that support legislation and investment to counter climate change
  • support carbon price schemes
  • invest your money in people or companies that target or research problems such as waste reduction and renewable energy
  • prefer organic pesticides and organically farmed foods
  • vegetarian lifestyle
  • vegan lifestyle

You may be unwilling to do all the things on this list. Whatever. Start somewhere. I'm not willing to do all the things on this list, for example, I'm not about to go Vegan. But that doesn't mean I have to discard this entire list. Do what you can and don't worry about the things you're not ready for. One step at a time.

If (like me!) you are a technical person, you might be interested in Bret Victor's article What can a Technologist Do About Climate Change?.

 

research

education

  • educate yourself
  • educate your children (if you have children)
  • help others to be educated on environmental issues
  • teach other people how to repair things, in person, or by posting videos on line

 

image credits

  • Light-bulb-earth icon, roof icon and pedestrian icons designed by Freepik from Flaticon

 

sources

brisbane/queensland resources