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Do Lifestyle Choices Really Matter?

Two people talk on a sidewalk, one is leaning against a bicycle


#Getting Started #Sustainability at School and Work #Sustainable Lifestyle #Sustainable Living


Doug Fogelson

Behavioral shifts are choices individuals can make in their own lives that have an impact on reducing carbon emissions. Research has been done to rank those actions in terms of effectiveness — for instance, recycling is less impactful than not owning a car. Actions that top the list of the most immediate and profound ways to personally reduce carbon include: raising one fewer child, not owning a car, avoiding long distance flights, eating a plant-based diet, and choosing renewable energy sources.

Recycling is number 7 on a list linked below. That said, actions can include: advocating through donations of time and money to organizations working for meaningful change (in areas you feel strongly about), becoming active in your community/school/workplace to implement changes and raise awareness, pressuring corporations to assess their impact (and influence their supply chain to do the same), and advocating for political leaders to make the big changes we need- are all part of how we can see life through a sustainability lens.

The rich and the poor have different ways of consuming and emitting — while everyone is connected, there is an inequality such that, “to even out carbon footprints in the U.S., its top emitters would have to cut pollution by 87% by 2030 while the bottom half could actually increase theirs by 3%” (Bloomberg). Wealthy greenhouse gas emitters generate more than four times the global average, while bringing people out of extreme poverty would only raise global emissions by “less than one percent.”

In the current crisis it can be hard to place a value on relatively minor choices that might become larger cultural trends. Simply because upgrading light bulbs is less impactful than washing clothes in cold water doesn’t mean people shouldn’t do both and enjoy the savings and health benefits they offer. When everyone in a culture makes sustainable practices in aggregate such solutions have a very large positive effect. Once accepted these practical methods become the norm.

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  • According to the World Economic Forum, 67% of new human displacements in the first half of 2020 were caused by climate and weather, not conflicts.

    True Sadly yes. Climate causes more than conflict. False No it is true that changing conditions cause more movement than conflicts do.