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Climate change can overwhelm us. Sometimes, thinking about how big of a problem it is, is enough to send us into doubting if we can really solve it, or at least stop if from becoming a worse problem than it already is. Every year governments go into all these complicated negotiations at the United Nations and yet, everything seems to be going slow when it comes to climate action. But, here’s what, as cliche as it sounds, our everyday choices does make a difference. From the things we buy to the things we eat, each person has a carbon footprint, and some bigger than others.

Here are some tips on how to lessen your carbon footprint:

Metal straws can help you become more sustainable

Metal straws can help you become more sustainable

1. Ditch the straw!
This is probably the easiest things to do, and probably the most common advice you’ve heard. A lot of straws end up in the ocean, killing and injuring animals like turtles. Here’s one solution: use metal straws instead. Metal straws have become more popular these days. Put it in your bag and bring it everywhere with you. This way, you get to say, “No straw, please!” next time you order your favourite smoothie or frappe.

2. Eat local, eat organic
Local food have less carbon footprint, and it helps your local farmers too! Did you know you can reduce the carbon footprint of your food by 7% by eating locally? Also, organic farming methods have much lower impact on the environment, and produce lower greenhouse gas emissions. As a bonus, eating organic doesn’t just lessen your carbon footprint, it’s also healthier for you!

 

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Bring your own bags when you shop, and don’t forget to check labels!

3. Shop better!
Okay, you’ve been told to bring your own bag when shopping, but what other ways can make our shopping more eco-friendly? First, check the label! Does it have too many ingredients? If it does, it was most likely heavily processed and probably has a high carbon footprint. Second, avoid products that have too many packaging. Is it wrapped in plastic and then another layer bubble wrap and put in a box? Don’t buy it! The product is definitely eco-friendly!

4. Buy fair-trade products
Check your labels! Look for the fair-trade certification. This ensures that the
products was made sustainably and that people are paid fairly for their work. 

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Did you know meat production emits a lot of carbon into the atmosphere?

5. Go meatless, even once a week!
Meatless Mondays aren’t just for your health, it also helps the planet. Did you know that meat production accounts for about 14-18% of global greenhouse gas emission? According to Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health, “if your four-person family skips steak 1 day a week [for a year], it’s like taking your car off the road for almost 3 months.” So go ahead and skip the meat (even if only for some days!)

6. Fly Green(er)
Aviation contributes a lot of carbon emissions. And sadly, there arenocommercial flights that run on renewable energy. Long flights also give you a lot of things — headphones, blankets, utensils — all wrapped in plastic! So how do we make our flights more eco-friendly? First, take a non-stop flight if you can, it uses less fuel. Second, bring your own water bottle. You know how planes only have plastic cups or watered bottles, right? And third, choose sustainable airlines such as Air France-KLM which was named by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as the most sustainable airline.

While much of the greenhouse gas emissions fall on dirty industries like the fossil fuel industry, we can’t wait for them to act before we make changes in our own lifestyle choices.

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About Renee Juliene Karunungan

Renee, from the Philippines, is currently Climate Tracker's Outreach Manager. She was a Climate Tracker fellow and was named by The Guardian as one of the "Young Climate Campaigners to Watch Before the UN Paris Summit" in 2015.