What once was considered a trend or an ideological point of view is now a global issue. Climate change is real and taking action to mitigate its effects is necessary. Environmentalists and activists aren’t trying to create the perfect world with unrealistic ideologies; they are trying to ensure that the world simply continues to exist. But there is nothing simple about sustainability.
We have surpassed the point where minimal action, such as recycling and using energy-saving appliances, will do much to help. It is evident from the past few years that businesses, particularly large companies and corporations, are the primary contributors to carbon emissions and climate change losses. Yet, these industries continue to delay and refuse to make the changes necessary to reverse the effects of climate change.
As individuals, this is incredibly frustrating, as it can seem as if businesses hold all the power. However, if you consider the workings of supply and demand, it is, in truth, the consumers who can sway these industries to effect change. Without customers buying their products or paying for their services, companies would lose money. This leaves them with two options: live with the losses and go out of business or make adjustments to meet new demands.
It is important to remind ourselves of this as individuals when we take steps to combat climate change. There are, of course, steps we can and should take at home and in our personal lives, but our habits surrounding the brands and businesses that we support are the quickest routes to effecting change on a larger scale.
1. Only support sustainable brands
Too many companies remain complicit when it comes to climate change. The advertising industry is particularly a problem. The primary focus of most businesses is to avoid profit loss to experience growth and success. They want to make the most money possible as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, this often means using materials and practices that are not sustainable. And the advertising industry only helps support this by putting out false information about climate change to help keep these companies in business.
However, as individuals, it is our responsibility to stand up against these companies to demand change, and the best way to do that is to stop supporting them. Often, this is hard for many who have developed an attachment to certain products or services that bring them joy or comfort, but we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones if we want to make a difference. This means refusing to purchase anything made or provided by a brand that does not prioritize sustainability.
Furthermore, it’s essential to do your research and understand labeling on everything you buy because even brands that seem eco-friendly might be “greenwashing” and falsely advertising themselves as sustainable. If we want to force these companies to make necessary changes, we have to go above and beyond to show them that we won’t stand for their unethical and unsustainable practices.
2. Eat locally sourced foods
The foodservice industry is one of the largest contributors to waste and carbon emissions. Food delivery services are especially problematic due to the emissions from transportation, food waste, and unsustainable packaging. Experts predict that if we don’t make changes fast, carbon emissions from food delivery will rise by 32% this year.
To combat this issue, individuals can opt for locally sourced food instead. If you do eat out, try looking for restaurants and services committed to using sustainable practices and packaging. Also, shopping at local farmer’s markets and smaller grocery store chains that locally source their food is not only better for the environment, but can help support the local economy.
3. Pursue a career in sustainability
As industries continue to feel the pressure placed on them by consumers, not only will this force them to make changes, but it also means we will see an increase in green job prospects. Today’s push for more sustainable practices is considered the Fourth Wave of Environmentalism. Each previous wave came with varying sustainable trends, and this new wave focuses on technological and market-based solutions, which will have a significant impact on the job market and emerging careers in sustainability.
Individuals who seek to make an impact and help fight the climate crisis will have more and more opportunities to do so by taking on a green career—and you don’t have to be a skilled scientist to do so. There are sustainable careers across numerous industries, including law, manufacturing, research, government, agriculture, transportation, and more.
Additional ways to fight climate change
Outside of your habits surrounding the brands and companies you support, there are numerous other ways to have a positive impact on climate change. Setting sustainable goals, for instance, that focus on global issues of climate change and poverty can help you develop new habits that can have a long-term impact. For example, try setting a goal to donate what you don’t need or use every few months or at the end of each year. You can also commit to using less water by setting monthly or even daily water use goals.
Additional, ways you can help combat climate change include:
- Spread the word and set an example in your community amongst friends, family, and neighbors.
- Don’t stop making demands. Continue attending rallies and making your voice heard by pressuring companies and the government to make changes now.
- Walk, bike, or use public transportation as much as possible.
- Reduce your home’s carbon footprint by using green energy appliances.
- Avoid fast fashion and shop at small local boutiques and thrift shops.
- Volunteer to help plant more trees.
- Consider putting your money towards eco-friendly investments.
Ultimately, we have to entirely rearrange the way we think and act if we want to make positive, lasting changes. To take the steps necessary, you have to have a passion for sustainability and teach others to care about it as well. The biggest issue facing climate change is individuals and companies that don’t care because they don’t see the benefit.
Changing minds and hearts can be difficult, but it will never happen if we give up. The key is to continue fighting and pushing and showing businesses and governments that we won’t take no for an answer—don’t give them any room to doubt. Fight hard and never let up until you get what you want.