The climate crisis demands economic transformation, a task for world leaders to tackle through policies and investments.
But everyday citizens can help accelerate this shift by adopting ways of life that are better for the planet, while also organizing communities to build power around principles of climate justice. When enough people do this, real structural change becomes more possible.
There are many ways to live more sustainably, including reducing how much meat you eat, taking less flights, and supporting local agriculture.
Revamping your home is another way you can make a difference.
Houses and apartment buildings have a major environmental impact through the energy they use for heating and cooking, the water they consume, and the land they take up.
Here are seven ways you can make your home better for the environment.
1. Power your home with renewables.
There’s a good chance that the electricity in your home comes from the burning of fossil fuels, which means that every time you turn on the TV or plug in your home, coal, natural gas (also known as methane gas), and oil companies are profiting.
You can stop supporting these companies by calling your energy provider (if you have one) and asking them to supply your home with renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar. Not only will you be reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but there’s a good chance that your energy bill will go down as prices of clean energy continue to plummet.
2. Improve your home’s insulation.
A lot of the heat and air conditioning produced in a home leaks out of windows and door frames, which drives up utility costs and causes more energy to be consumed. An easy way to fix this is to insulate your windows and door frames, or install sealed windows and door frames.
3. Get an electric or induction stove.
While gas stoves use less energy than their electric counterparts, they pollute homes with so many toxic fumes that they pose a direct threat to your health. Indoor air pollution is a global health crisis that contributes to millions of premature deaths annually. Switching to an electric stove or induction stove will ensure that the air you breathe is much cleaner.
And if you’re already powering your home with renewable energy, you can ensure that your new stove isn’t harming the environment.
4. Replace your gas boiler.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s leading energy analysis firm, released a blockbuster report on May 18 that mapped out how the world can achieve the Paris climate agreement’s goal of keeping temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
A key part of this plan involves a global ban on new gas boilers by 2025, which are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in houses and buildings. Replacing this outdated technology is expensive, but many governments offer subsidies and rebates for people buying heat pumps and hydrogen boilers because of the environmental benefit.
5. Get energy-efficient appliances.
This is another expensive transition, but if you have the means, you can significantly reduce household energy use by buying energy-efficient appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines.
6. Go zero waste.
Whether it’s old packaging, rotten food, or plastic junk, household trash quickly accumulates. Every month, the average US citizen generates their body weight in garbage, which goes to landfills, incinerators, and other facilities that pollute surrounding environments and release greenhouse gases.
You can reduce the waste generated by your household by buying food in bulk, reusing and repurposing old bottles and containers, engaging in less consumerism, and composting. A lot of old food scraps lying about can be composted to create nutrient-rich soil.
7. Grow plants.
You can take some of that compost to nourish a garden. Cultivating herbs, flowers, vegetables, fruits, and other plants in your backyard or on a windowsill has many benefits. Plants clean the air and provide a habitat for pollinating insects that are essential to all ecosystems. Growing plants can also strengthen your relationship with nature, allowing you to better appreciate the splendor of life, and ultimately turn you into a stronger advocate for the planet.