These days there’s no escaping the fact that climate change is real, and that it’s happening here and now. The devastating effects of climate change are being felt in our oceans, our forests, our glaciers, and our mountains. A sobering new report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that the impacts of climate change are accelerating. Teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg, has galvanized a youth-driven global movement to draw the world’s attention to the climate crisis and demand more action from our governments. And it’s working. Many of us are waking up to the fact that ignorance and inaction are no longer valid options.
With the threat of climate catastrophe looming so large, it’s easy to succumb to despair and a sense that our individual actions are futile. When 100 companies are responsible for producing 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it can seem as if our own efforts to decarbonize our lives are just a drop in the warming ocean.
But I’m not one to give into despair. I’m inspired by a quote by Greta Thunberg, who said, “No one is too small to make a difference.” Every action counts, and as we prepare to celebrate Rosh Hashannah this evening, I’ve drawn up my resolutions for a greener new year:
- Use Reusable Bags: Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues we face. While I try to avoid using single-use plastic bags, I often forget to bring a reusable bag with me when I’m out doing errands. This year, I’m committing to never leaving the house without a reusable bag.
- Use Reusable Plates for My Kids’ School Lunches: My two older kids have a warm meal at school every day, but, like schools throughout Israel, they eat their meals off disposable plates with disposable cutlery. This year I’ve bought my kids reusable plates and cutlery that they can take with them every day.
- Hang Laundry Out to Dry: With three children aged seven and under, I do a lot of laundry. It’s one of the banes of my life. Last month, our drying machine collapsed from exhaustion and the technician I brought in to try to fix it said it was a lost cause. For the past few weeks we’ve been hanging out the laundry to dry on our balcony, and, even though we are buying a new drying machine, we’re going to continue air-drying our laundry whenever we can.
- Unplug: I’ll try to remember to switch off lights and unplug appliances when we’re not using them. And I’m going to teach my kids to do the same.
- Conscious Consumption: Everything we buy has a carbon footprint. I’ll try to be more mindful about my consumption habits, and question whether I really need whatever it is that I’m feeling impelled to buy. When I do go shopping, I’ll buy from brands with eco-friendly values and practices. Which leads me onto my next resolution…
- Educate Myself: I’m going to read up about the companies I buy from so that I can make more informed choices when I shop.
- Donate to Green Causes: This year, we’ll donate to Friends of the Earth in addition to the social change organizations that we support in Israel.
- Volunteer: I’m going to take part in some beach clean-ups organized by Plastic Free Israel, and I’ll bring my kids along too.
- Sign and Share Petitions: I’ll sign and share petitions like this one by Greenpeace Israel, demanding that Israel takes more action to curb our greenhouse gas emissions.
- Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products: They’re more expensive, but it’s about time I switched to eco-friendly cleaning products. This year, I will.
(Side note: As a vegetarian who hates driving and loves cycling, I haven’t included anything about reducing my meat consumption or my transportation footprint).
I hope my list inspires you to create your own.
Wishing us all a Shana Tova Ve-Yeruka (a Happy and Green New Year).