Summer Sustainability: How to help the planet, your health, and your wallet.

With the arrival of summer, temperatures are beginning to rise –  and so is energy consumption. With concerns over climate change continuing to grow, now is a great time to focus on environmental conservation. You can start conserving natural resources at home by practicing responsible, sustainable energy consumption –  and you’ll save some money on energy costs too! group of people with signs to act now against climate change

The Truth About Climate Change

Many of us have been around long enough to remember “global warming,” but that term simply did not accurately reflect the reality of what is happening to our environment.  What we now call climate change refers not only to changes in temperature, but also changes to things like rainfall and wind patterns, crop and flower blooming seasons, and more. 

Experts agree that climate change is being caused by humans and the ways that we have been increasing levels of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, in the atmosphere. The two major sources of greenhouse gas emissions are the fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that we use for electricity, heat, and transportation, and deforestation methods used to clear land for urbanization or farming. 

arctic ice melting into the ocean.
Arctic ice sheets melting is a result of climate change.

The Threat

Experts say that climate change is the #1 threat to humans globally. When the weather is out of whack, the routines and the natural cycles of the planet are disrupted, with catastrophic effects. And we have already begun to see the effects of climates changing: we have seen arctic ice sheets melting, leading to rising ocean levels, which in turn causes disastrous flooding. 

Many climate scientists and meteorologists use Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as an example of the types of climate-related emergencies we can expect to see in the future. 15 years later, New Orleans neighborhoods are still trying to recover from the tragedy. Just one hurricane can wreak havoc and lead to extreme homelessness, poverty, water contamination, and strain on local resources.

Climate change also exacerbates medical risks and the spread of infectious disease. The World Health Organization estimates that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year by the year 2030 – just 10 years from now. With temperatures and rainfall rising, insect-borne diseases like dengue fever, zika, and lymes disease will flourish. Hotter temperatures will place people at a greater risk for medical emergencies related to heat stroke and  cardiovascular and kidney disease. Air quality will decrease because of pollution, higher mold levels due to warmer and wetter seasons, and higher pollen levels due to longer pollinating seasons. All of this will put people at a risk for respiratory health issues, particularly the 300 million people who suffer from asthma globally.

What You Can Do 

These threats are real, and the time for action is now. There are some changes you can make in your own home that can help slow the rate of climate change. These suggestions involve some changes to your lifestyle, but they will help the planet and save you money or improve your health. 

  • Reduce your air conditioner usage this summer. Instead, rely on overhead or portable fans, or invest in insulating window curtains to help your house stay cooler for longer.
  • Hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer to save energy.

    multiple laundry being hung outside.
    Hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer to save energy.
  • Unplug your phone and laptop charger when not in use, and consider switching to power strips for other appliances so you can turn them all off at night. The bonus is that these three steps will also cut down on your energy bills. 
  • Walk or bike instead of driving. This is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, and reduces the use of fossil fuels. 
  • Eat in-season, locally grown fruits and veggies. The environmental cost of growing and farming out-of-season produce is very high, and supporting local farms reduces transportation emissions. Or, start your own garden! 
  • Reduce red meat consumption. The meat farming industry is a massive contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of perpetuating the farmed meat cycle, look for local, sustainable farms and butchers for high quality, low carbon footprint meats. 
  • Reduce and reuse as much as possible! Fix your appliances, shop secondhand, and make small switches, like using rags made out of old t-shirts instead of paper towels or recycling candle wax. Factories create a lot of carbon dioxide when making new products – plus, think of all the money you’ll save by limiting your online shopping!

Unfortunately, because climate change is a multifaceted issue, there’s no one solution for slowing down its effects. But by participating in efforts to save our planet, you are modeling the importance of environmental sustainability to your family, friends, and community. This environmental stewardship is critical as we head towards the breaking point for our planet’s future. All of these changes, though small, are a step forward on the path to a healthy, thriving planet for years to come.

Going Green: Small Businesses can Support Environmental Sustainability

Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our world today. While some celebrities have made themselves the faces of the climate change movement, there are many unsung heroes working everyday to make a difference. As a business owner, you too can take actions to help slow the damage being done to our environment. With some easy, low-cost changes, your business can play an active role in supporting environmental efforts for a safer and greener future. 

Move Online

caucasian hands on a keyboard in front of a computer screen.
Offer your services online.
  • Offer your services online

Consider switching to online invoicing and payments to limit your businesses’ reliance on receipts and trips to the bank for deposits. There are a variety of options for these programs. Many of them will save money on supplies and will allow to you to receive payments faster. 

In the age of the internet, there are endless ways to use our permanent “online” status to market your business. Try exploring all of the ways social media can help build your brand, or switch to email campaigns rather than flyers or postcards. These incredibly effective marketing methods will help you save precious resources.

Changes Around the Office

  • Make your office environmentally friendly

If you have a brick-and-mortar location, try switching to compact flourescent lightbulbs, choosing laptops over desktop computers when possible, utilizing energy-saver settings on computers, and offering reusable cups for coffee and water. 

  • Use Green Products

In this day and age, almost all companies have a sustainability plan. Ask your vendors about their environmental efforts! For example, if your business requires shipping, look into companies that use energy efficient vehicles. On your end, you can switch to mailers made out of recycled materials and paper stuffing instead of bubble wrap. 

light blue bag with re-use on it

  • Recycle and reuse

Start a recycling initiative in your office. Aim to have
more recycling than trash. Make sure you follow your community’s recycling guidelines for things like electronics, glass, and ink cartridges. 

Steps Toward Sustainability

Your business may be thriving, but our planet is struggling. While there is no single solution to the imminent threat of climate change, reducing your carbon footprint can help slow the impact. By participating in efforts to save our planet, you demonstrate your leadership, and a commitment to helping our planet thrive. All of these changes, though small, are a step forward on the path to a greener, more sustainable future.