Fight climate change this summer with these 10 action steps – USA TODAY
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In December of 2017, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement. Through reducing carbon emissions, this agreement aims to limit this century’s temperature increase to 2º C (3.6º F) at most, though it has 1.5º C (2.7º F) as a lower, more optimistic threshold. “[1.5º C] is an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a recent statement.
A recent report found that there’s a 50-50 chance we’ll reach this lower threshold by 2026. “As long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise. And alongside that, our oceans will continue to become warmer and more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea level will continue to rise and our weather will become more extreme,” Taalas said.
This sounds bad, we know. While it could be cause for concern, it shouldn’t be a reason to quit the fight to save our planet. If we do reach the threshold, it could only be a temporary increase. If it becomes permanent down the line, we could still work to keep it from rising even further. Summer is on the horizon and with the changing of seasons comes new ways to be environmentally conscious.
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Put on your walking shoes
Free from the cold of winter and the allergies of spring, summer is when many find being outside a treat instead of a chore. Since the weather’s so nice, why not give walking a try? According to the EPA, transportation makes up a vast majority of carbon emissions, so it’s a good idea to cut back on your car rides where you can or try carpooling.
If you’re looking to get your walk on, we recommend picking up a pair of New Balance shoes. The brand is known for its comfort across various foot shapes. We recommend the New Balance 993 because we found it to be comfortable, sturdy and versatile.
Ride a bike when a walk just won’t cut it
Walks are nice, but they’re not always the most practical option for travel. When a walk just won’t cut it and the jangle of your keys sounds like a siren song, there’s one last line of defense to resist the call of the engine: riding a bike.
With many cities becoming more bike-friendly, it’s a good time to give cycling a try. Like walking, bike-riding doesn’t produce any carbon emissions. Biking is great for covering longer distances in a short amount of time. Unlike driving, walking and biking are good sources of cardio.
The Schwinn Discover Hybrid bike has rave reviews on Amazon that attest to it being worth its price. With a built-in luggage rack, the Discover is an excellent choice for commuting this summer.
Wear a bathing suit made from recycled materials
Nothing says “summer” quite like a day at the beach and thanks to Summersalt, you can catch some rays and waves while saving the environment.
That’s because Summersalt swimwear is made and packaged from recycled materials. If that isn’t cool enough, then you should know that the fit of Summersalt’s swimwear is backed by data—they took over 1 million body measurements to inform the swimwear’s structure and sizing to ensure an optimal fit for various body types. We tested the brand and came to love the Marina and Sidestroke one-piece designs.
Put on ocean-friendly sunscreen
If you’re going to the beach, whether you tan or burn, you’ll have to deal with the sun. You might not think twice about using your favorite sunscreen, but what if we told you that it could damage the environment? Octinoxate has been linked to coral reef damage, to the point of several coastal destinations banning sunscreens that use it as an ingredient. Since coral bleaching is one of the effects of global warming, using octinoxate-free sunscreen will help mitigate future damage.
While there are many eco-friendly sunscreen brands to choose from, we recommend Stream2Sea. We haven’t tested it ourselves, but reviewers rave about its effectiveness and affordable price. The sunscreen is somewhat thick, so apply it conservatively if you want to avoid “ghost face.”
Use bug spray that keeps wildlife safe
As much as we think we love summer, terrifying, winged creatures of the night love it even more. You can lock your doors, you can close your windows, yet they always find a way to slip through to steal your blood. Bugs. We’re talking about bugs.
Mosquitoes, horseflies and ticks are just a few insects that have an annoying penchant for biting. What’s worse is that they can also spread nasty diseases. Naturally, you’ll spray just about anything on yourself to them at bay.
Bug spray usually contains DEET, a chemical that may harm wildlife. That’s where essential oils come in handy. While most essential oils aren’t FDA-approved for use as bug repellent, eucalyptus oil is. The oil from the plant smells extremely strong and unpleasant to bugs, keeping them away. Eucalyptus leaves are a koala bear’s favorite food, so rest assured that this spray is all-natural. If it’s good enough for a cuddly koala, it’s good enough for us!
Swap your meat for Beyond Meat
If you didn’t have much of a spring, it might finally be time to break out the grill. If you’re grilling beef, however, you might want to think twice before turning those burners on. According to the EPA, agriculture makes up 11% of carbon emissions and raising livestock contributes to a large portion of this. The jury’s in: beef isn’t sustainable.
Problem: Beef tastes great and most alternatives simply don’t cut it.
Solution: Beyond Meat.
Beyond Meat is a plant-based meat substitute that brings the texture and taste you love without the unsustainable practices of the meat industry. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, Beyond Meat is a fun new way to spice up your next barbecue. It might even become your next favorite food.
Use a reusable bag for groceries
If you’re getting patties, you’ll need buns. You might need mustard, too. You might as well get seasoning. While you’re at it, you should probably pick up some milk, too.
Next thing you know, you’ve gone through an entire grocery list. Whoops, it happens. Before you checkout, you might want to think twice about bagging your purchases with plastic bags (assuming you don’t live in one of the eight states that have banned single-use bags. Plastic clogs many of our planet’s waterways. What’s worse, single-use plastic can’t easily be recycled.
Reusable bags are much more eco-friendly. For the summer months (and all year long, really), we recommend insulated grocery bags. You wouldn’t want your milk getting curdled in a hot car, would you?
Drink from a reusable water bottle
In the summer months when dehydration is a bigger threat than ever, it’s important to remember to drink lots of water. If you’re cutting down on single-use plastics, then water bottles should be the next thing to go. Producing, transporting and disposing of these bottles creates a large carbon footprint compared to their weight.
Reusable water bottles are a more sustainable way to meet your water-drinking needs this summer. While there are many styles of water bottles to choose from, we recommend the Brita stainless steel filtered bottle. It really does it all — its steel insulation keeps water cool for up to 24 hours, it filters the taste of chlorine and unlike other steel water bottles, it fits easily in your hand.
Opt for a fan instead of the AC
Speaking of beating the heat, you’ll want a way to cool off besides drinking water. For many people, this means buying and using air conditioning. But that uses a lot of electricity and therefore burns a lot of fossil fuel. We’ve compared fans and AC and found that part of what makes using a fan so effective when you’re feeling overheated is that a fan cools you down directly, instead of the whole room around you. Consider using a fan if you can stay close to the fan and if it’s under 95º F outside. We recommend the Dreo tower fan for its 90-degree oscillation and many speed options. Plus, you can integrate it with Alexa and Google Home.
Charge your devices with a solar-powered battery
While we’ve spoken at length about all the ways that the sun can be a pain, it’s important to remember that it can be a great help, too. So helpful in fact, that it’s one of the best sources of renewable energy. If you’re planning on powering a small device, such as a phone or tablet, why not take advantage of the extra sunlight by buying a tiny solar panel to help you do it? We recommend the ADDTOP solar power bank for its ability to charge two devices at once, water resistance and easy installation.
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