This story is adapted from Life Kit's weekly newsletter, which arrives in inboxes each Friday. Subscribe here.
Not all change is good, and this week, Life Kit is thinking about one of the biggest changes of all: climate change. It's a problem that calls for systemic, long-term solutions.
But we can all do our part to cut back on our own carbon footprint and reduce waste.
You can start on your next trip to the kitchen.
Start with what you're eating. Meat production takes a big toll on the environment, through deforestation to make room for cattle and through methane emissions from cows. Cutting back on eating meat — even just a little — can make a big environmental impact. Here are recipes to help.
Then, think about all the food you don't eat — the food scraps in your trash or spoiled meals sitting in your fridge. Food waste accounts for as much as 10% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. Here's some advice to cut down your contribution, from our episode on reducing food waste:
- Don't be fooled by the "sell-by" date on your foods. Most of these dates are about when foods are freshest — not the day you should throw it in the trash. This USDA app can help you keep track of how long food really lasts. (And this Life Kit episode can help you decipher the buzzwords on food labels.)
- If you are worried about food going bad, your freezer is your friend. Almost anything can be frozen.
Instead of tossing food scraps, try composting. Even if you don't have the outdoor space to compost on your own, you can get scraps picked up or even drop them off at local facilities. Look up "compost pickup service" in your area.
What's in your closet?
Fast fashion has led to a clothing waste crisis. "Ultimately, any item of clothing that you get rid of is going to end up in the landfill because the technological solutions just really aren't at scale yet to do something different with it," Elizabeth Cline, author of The Conscious Closet: A Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good, told us for Life Kit's episode on cultivating a more sustainable closet. Buy second-hand, donate responsibly, and don't be fooled by greenwashing — efforts by corporations to seem sustainable even when they're not."
Look around the rest of your home. Buildings account for about a third of the greenhouse gas emissions from the United States. This new Life Kit episode walks through ways you can reduce your home's impact.
Start small, experts say: Are you using LED light bulbs? Opening your windows instead of turning on the air conditioning? Then it's time to think bigger. The episode has ideas for replacing major appliances and switching to clean electricity.
You can even get the whole family involved — if you need a hand, Life Kit has an episode about helping kids understand the climate crisis and take action.
We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823 or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.
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