A new calendar year is a great time to reflect on your own personal decisions and the ways in which you interact with the world. Resolutions can help you modify your own actions, especially as they relate to the worsening conditions of climate change. Below are a few ways through which you can lessen your communal or individual carbon footprint and advance equitable environmental solutions.
- Reduce your weekly meat consumption
The environmental footprint of meat products in comparison to plant-based diets is stark. But completely altering your diet to only be plant based can be culturally, financially, or personally restrictive. Even a small reduction in your weekly meat consumption will decrease your overall carbon footprint. Check out this resource from The New York Times that calculates your diet’s current carbon footprint.
- Participate in local environmental organizing initiatives
Even if all citizens became carbon neutral in their yearly consumption habits, climate change would still continue because of impacts from our capitalistic and infrastructural industries. Paying attention to environmental initiatives in your local governments is vitally important. Here are some sustainability initiatives within the City of Ann Arbor, as well as the Michigan Climate Action’s list of environmental organizations.
- Donate your time and effort to local equity projects
Environmental injustice disproportionately impacts BIPOC communities in a myriad of ways. Political organizing and volunteering can help communities gain traction for governmental action. Here is a list of volunteer opportunities in Ann Arbor and Detroit.
- Reduce waste by consuming fewer goods
Most of the environmental impacts of many consumer products are tied to the products inside, not the packaging, such as single-use plastics, according to University of Michigan environmental engineer Shelie Miller. Reduce waste by practicing mindful consumption, which includes careful consideration of the types and quantities of products consumed.
- Vote in local elections
Environmental initiatives are driven forward and developed in local contexts before being scaled up to the federal level. Voting for politicians who have environmental adaptations as part of their platform can help enact these changes. Look at national legislators’ environmental track records through the League of Conservation Voters scorecard.
- Increase your use of public transportation
One of the most significant ways to reduce your household’s carbon footprint is by using public transportation as much as possible. Ann Arbor has a well-connected and affordable public transportation system, and it’s free for students by swiping your MCard. If you still need to travel via car, try to carpool with others to reduce your overall impact.