Our planet is resilient and our resources are abundant, but nothing is endless. If we continue to treat the planet as we do today, our children may not have fresh water or green forests to play in. Individual and collective action must be taken, and luckily, slight changes can go a long way. Here are five easy ways to take action in 2022.

Drive Less

When the car was invented in 1886, everything changed. People could work far from home, push weekends over state lines, and get from A to B a lot faster. Quickly, personal vehicles became mainstream and now, 135 years later, 93% of Americans have at least one car. If we want to continue exploring the world, our nation needs to adjust its approach to travel. University of Colorado Boulder professor Kevin Krizek, says that half of the time the average American jumps in the car, it is for a trip less than four miles. With 276 million vehicles registered in the U.S today, all of which emit about 411 grams of CO2 per mile, the impact of this habit is pronounced. In fact, transportation accounted for 29% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. Barring mobility issues or weather concerns, there are better ways to move. Try walking and biking around town or opt for public transit to reduce your carbon footprint. If driving is necessary, consider carpooling or hybrid and electric vehicles. Several states and local utilities are offering customers EV incentives and in 2021, Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act.

Eat Fewer Animal Products

Did you know that the U.S. food systems account for more than one third of global greenhouse gas emissions? While many Americans aren’t farmers themselves, we choose what to fill our carts with. And the leading item? Meat. According to a study published in September 2021, 60% of U.S. food system emissions come from animal agriculture. Meat may taste great, but ruminants (cows, goats, and sheep) produce extremely high levels of heat-trapping methane, a gas that affects our global temperatures much quicker than CO2. It’s estimated that over the course of 100 years, a kilo of methane will have 28 times more global warming effect than a kilo of CO2. So, what can you do to have a positive impact on the planet? Cut back your consumption of meat and consider plant-based alternatives. NASA has already confirmed that our choices are changing the earth so, let’s work together to make a positive impact. By opting for plant-based alternatives in lieu of meat, even just one night a week, you’ll benefit the planet and yourself. Harvard Medical School even linked plant-based eating to longevity.

Buy Alternative Plastic Products

Plastic, on the other hand, is linked to pollution, strangled sea turtles, contaminated food and water; yet it’s still an essential for many Americans – so much so that we produced 35.7 million tons in 2021. Today, there are about 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world, and we can each do our part to ensure there’s not much more. Mason jars, wooden spoons, bamboo bags and ceramic containers are all great alternatives. If ditching a plastic water bottle means 1,460 don’t land in a landfill, or worse, the ocean, imagine what living completely plastic-free could mean. There are many ways to add value to the ground you walk on, or even the walls around you. Nzambi Matee, a woman from Nairobi, Kenya has combined her passion and engineering skills to convert plastic into bricks five to seven times stronger than concrete. This solution was started in 2017, and now 1,500 bricks are produced daily, and 20 tons of plastic have been recycled. “I was tired of being on the sidelines,” she told Reuters. Only nature knows what the future brings. Maybe one day plastics will be the solution. However, it’s clear now that the rate at which they’re being used, and the likelihood that they’ll end up in our food and water supply, is far too high. We need to work together to ensure our waves don’t become a sea of plastic.

Recycle & Compost

Back in 1777, during the American War of Independence, patriot soldiers melted down a statue of King George III to create 42,088 bullets, and recycling was born. The practice is historically effective, especially considering our nation’s independence, and it’s easily implemented into your daily routine. It’s estimated that 75% of American waste is recyclable, but according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), only about 30% gets into the blue bin. We can do better, and the San Mateo County implemented a comprehensive waste management program to prove it. Between 1999 to 2018, the county’s waste disposal dropped by 41%, despite an 8% spike in population. It’s always been clear that if we work together, we can move mountains, and even melt statues. With this collective power, we should also focus on composting. An additional 50% of waste could be removed from landfills if Americans made this a habit. Bonus, it’s extremely cost effective. We benefit from the flavor, Earth benefits from the carbon sequestered from the air, and animals benefit from the additional nutrients in their food. Make it easy by setting up a recycling and composting station at home. The composting basics are short and sweet and with recycling, clean it out and flatten the cardboard. Most packaging these days gives you a clue. If you reduce what you buy, reuse what you already have, and recycle and compost as much as you can, this won’t be a problem for much longer.

Subscribe to a Community Solar Farm

Sadly, climate change is already a reality. Puerto Rico is facing longer hurricane seasons, California is likely experiencing a megadrought, and large parts of the world could be considered inhabitable in 50 years. Today, residents of Maine are experiencing a 60-80% increase in electricity costs. The rising price of natural gas is likely the culprit which suggests that other states will soon be affected as well. To reduce your electricity bill, and support clean power close to home, sign up for Nexamp Community Solar! We operate in 10 states, and you don’t need to be a homeowner to participate. Clean power is generated off-site and then fed into local utility grids, offering reliability and cost efficiency. Rather than installing a private solar system, something 90 million American households can’t do, tap into a solar farm with your community. Subscribers are saving an average of 10-20% on electricity costs annually, and T-Mobile, one of our partnering businesses, will realize significant savings across farms in Massachusetts and New York. There are no sign-up fees or long-term contracts. What are you waiting for?

We got ourselves into this climate crisis, and we’ll need to work together to get out of it. Driving less, eating fewer animals, composting, buying eco-friendly brands and supporting solar power are great ways to show Mother Earth you really care. The bonus is that these actions make decarbonization easier for generations to come, ensuring our planet will be a bright mix of blue waters and green trees forever. Make a positive impact on our planet today.