By Sica Schmitz
Founder of Bead & Reel, frequent speaker, writer, and sustainable stylist.
It was recently announced that the US will be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. While this is disappointing news for those of us committed to the health of our planet, it’s also an important time to remember our individual power. As over 200 cities announce their climate commitments, we encourage you to make your own goals to protect our planet with easy everyday actions.
BIKE, WALK, OR BUS
Shifting reliance from cars to bikes, buses, and walking could reduce transportation emissions in cities by 40 percent. Not only will this be better for our earth, but public transportation is a great way to catch up on your reading, and walking and cycling is known to lower stress levels (which we may all need as global temperatures rise!).
Up to 40 percent of American food is wasted, amounting to 1.3 billion tons of food waste annually! Once in landfills, food waste emits a harmful greenhouse gas pollutant known as methane which has higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, your used (and unused) food can get new life as fresh soil through composting. There may already be curbside pick-up available in your area, and if not, you can rally your neighbors and request it from Compost Now or even petition your local government. You can even try indoor composting!
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation! If every American skipping meat one day a week – or more! – we could save not only significant lower emission and save water and 1.4 billion animals per year (yes, billion with a b!). Check out happycow.com for all your local vegan restaurant, or get creative in the kitchen with Oh She Glows.
We’re throwing away so much plastic that a recent study found that plastics in the ocean will outweigh fish pound for pound in 2050. A few simple switches can help reduce plastic waste: bring your reusable tote to the store, keep a reusable straw handy, and use an aluminum water bottle to skip the disposable plastic versions. They are better for the planet, and definitely way prettier.
According to a recent report by the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, synthetic leather has only a 1/3 of the environmental impact of cow leather. Different leathers can have an over tenfold difference in environmental impact based on their type and origin, how the animal was raised, and how the tanning process took place. Switching to alternative materials can directly improve a product’s footprint – and fortunately, it’s never been easier to shop vegan.
SKIP FAST FASHION
Americans send 10.5 million tons of clothing to the landfill every year due to an increased demand for cheap and disposable clothing. Fast fashion has not only warped our relationship with clothing, but the increased resources needed for all this extra production and waste are straining our environment as well. Instead, choose to invest in high quality pieces you plan to wear and keep for many years. Your wallet and your planet will thank you.