It’s been one of the warmest winters on record here in the DMV, and the cherry blossoms are in bloom way too early. We have really not had a winter this year at all, while other areas of the country are experiencing winter tornadoes or record-high snowfall. This chaos is alarming. And it’s easy to feel a bit hopeless about the future if you’re really paying attention. That’s why we thought it was a good time to share our favorite ideas for taking action on climate change. There are so many ways to get involved, big or small, that make a real difference.
Here at Ipsun we find that doing something—anything—helps you feel better. It’s why we do what we do. So read on for seven great ways to be a part of the solution.
☀️ 1. Obviously, GO SOLAR!
It’s no surprise that our number one suggestion is to make your own renewable energy. Not only does it save you money (the homeowners above will save $93,500 over the life of their system) but it also saves the planet in a big way. This family will save the equivalent of 404,000 pounds of coal NOT burned as a result of their decision to go solar.
And what’s cool is those benefits compound and spread, so your solar doesn’t just help you, it helps your community too. A couple of ways that happens include:
a) Building the movement — Studies show when you go solar your neighbors are more likely to follow suit.
b) Supporting your local electric grid–When you send your overage of solar energy back to the local grid, it helps out during high-demand times and makes it less likely that your utility company will need to build new fossil fuel generating plants in their service area.
⚡ 2. Electrify your home and your transportation
Buying an EV and installing all-electric appliances in your house are great climate and money-saving actions to take!
Electrifying your home and your transportation can save an average family about $1000/year with an EV and about $600/year on electric appliances. There are loads of federal tax credits and incentives available through the Inflation Reduction Act to help you make these upgrades. Check out our posts about them here:
How do the EV tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act work?
How can I take advantage of the new home electrification & energy efficiency tax credits?
So buy that EV, install that heat pump and induction stove, and make sure your home is optimized for energy efficiency. It will save you money, and save the planet at the same time.
✌️ PS, You may wonder whether using electricity is better for the environment than burning gas.
Short answer: It is. The energy mix from your electric utility company comes from a combination of natural gas, nuclear, renewables, and coal. That mix is improving toward more renewable energy all the time. But even right now, it’s better emissions-wise to run your car on electricity instead of gasoline. And better to run your house on electricity than natural gas, which isn’t getting more renewable, and can cause health problems from indoor air pollution.
Additonally, many people wonder about the rare earth minerals mined for electric vehicle batteries. Again, they are improving all the time, but even right now, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with an electric vehicle over its lifetime are typically lower than those from an average gasoline-powered vehicle, even when accounting for manufacturing.
🌻 3. Do any or all of the individual actions that make your life more sustainable
Recycle, compost, reduce your acquisition of stuff (especially plastic stuff), go vegetarian or vegan, change to LED lightbulbs, plant a native garden, plant trees. All of these things make a difference and can bring meaning and joy into your life at the same time.
A fabulous place to start and join in community in these actions is at our wonderful local Vienna, VA, shop, Trace Zero Waste. Refill your spices, bulk foods, and self-care potions– and find great reusable items to cut down your plastic use. Owner Mala is a font of information about reducing your carbon and plastic footprint at home. Visit her soon!
You can also mark your calendar for April 20th and come visit us and other local businesses and groups at the Vienna Green Expo to learn more about sustainability at home.
🗨️ 4. Use Your Voice!
Talking about the climate crisis is so important. Normalize it in conversation. Don’t let it be political. It affects us all, no matter who we are. It’s uncomfortable and scary, but also critical that we be brave and make it a topic.
As the great climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says, “Having a real discussion and connecting over shared values like family, community, and religion prompts people to realize that they already care about a changing climate. We can’t give in to despair. We have to go out and look for the hope we need to inspire us to act — and that hope begins with a conversation, today.”
And if you’re worried about talking with your kids or grandkids about climate change, just be sure to frame it in a hopeful, helpful way. Just as the Lorax told us, “Unless someone cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” Kids understand that if they take action they’re helping, and that gives them — and us — hope. See links in #7 below for groups that help kids get involved.
📞 5. Write and call your legislators
This one is huge. They’re the ones who can really make changes, but they won’t until enough of us say we won’t stand for anything less.
A great place to start is with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Their science based approach is always helpful, and their website always has great actions you can take to contact your legislators. Click here to take action now!
You can also call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 at any time and tell them your zip code – they’ll connect you with your federal legislators and you can tell them what you think on any topic. It’s especially helpful if you leave them a message about a specific bill you’d like them to support or oppose. The Union of Concerned Scientists website can guide you if you need ideas!
📚 6. Learn more and help others understand
Some great books to check out:
- All We Can Save, an anthology edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
- The New Climate War, by Michael Mann
- Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World, by Katharine Hayhoe
- Being the Change: Live Well and Start a Climate Revolution by Peter Kalmus
- This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs The Climate by Naomi Klein
📣 7. Get in the streets
Studies show that climate activism is extremely effective in changing policy. So join a protest or rally; glue yourself to a legislator’s office door; stop traffic; do whatever it takes to save our future.
“When you take action for climate, it’s for you. It’s for your family, it’s for everything you love.” – Katharine Hayhoe
Check out these resources and find a group that speaks to your values and interests:
If you’re into the outdoors, check out Protect Our Winters
For land conservation and protection: Sierra Club
Specifically working on Virginia state issues and with our state legislators: Virginia Conservation Network, Generation 180, Virginia Clean Cities, Appalachian Voices, Mothers out Front Fairfax
Saving the planet for your grandkids: Third Act
Saving the planet for your kids: Mothers Out Front or 350.org
Saving the planet with your Millenial peers: Generation 180 or 350.org
Groups for youth & Gen Z kids: Our Children’s Trust or Sunrise Movement
Need help finding a climate action that fits your style? Get in touch! We love talking about saving the planet with you.