What Can I Do?

No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do at work or in school, you have the power to make a difference in the climate crisis. Below, we lay out some actions you can take alongside links to relevant Climate One episodes, external resources and other organizations active in this space.

Where You Live

Almost one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from heating and cooling our homes and businesses, meaning even small tweaks to our buildings can lead to big climate gains in the long run. And perhaps best of all, many of these changes will lower your utility bills and carbon emissions at the same time!

  • If your electricity bills are sky high but you can't figure out why, a home energy audit may help. The federal Department of Energy has a guide with resources for both DIY and professional assessments, and your utility provider likely has more information.
  • Thanks to federal tax credits, combined with state and local programs,  replacing fossil fuel-burning appliances with energy-efficient electric ones is more affordable than ever. Nonprofits like Rewiring America can help homeowners navigate the home electrification process.
  • From its purification treatment to transportation to heating, water uses energy at every step of its cycle, making water conservation and efficiency an important climate action. Simple steps include limiting lawn irrigation, taking showers instead of baths, and replacing leaky faucets, pipes, and shower heads — preferably with low-flow models!

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What You Buy

Voting with your wallet by opting for climate-friendly alternatives, B Corp-certified brands, and durable products will free up your budget and reduce your emissions, all while signaling to massive corporations — some of the main drivers of pollution — that you prefer products that are good for the planet.

  • Eat less meat. Consider committing to one meat-free day per week or replacing carbon-intensive beef and pork with lower-carbon alternatives like poultry and turkey. Dairy cows also produce a lot of methane so consider subbing some cow-milk products for oat, almond or other vegan alternatives. 
  • All the way back in 2012, musician Macklemore was giving out the secret to sustainable clothes shopping: thrifting! Eschew fast fashion in favor of pre-loved apparel to fill out your wardrobe without contributing to textile waste. And when you do buy new things, take care of them and commit to them for the long haul.
  • More than 200 counties and municipalities have passed laws designed to curtail single-use plastic bags, with some governments, such as the state of California, going even further. When given a choice, purchase recyclable or reusable products, and opt out of single-use plastic utensils and bags when ordering takeout.

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How You Move Around

Transportation is the largest single source of emissions in the United States. And since most of us aren't hopping on our private jet each weekend, cars and trucks remain the main carbon emitter for most Americans. But while the proliferation of electric vehicles for the past few years has been thrilling, there are many other ways to reduce your transportation-related carbon emissions. 

  • An easy way to get around without polluting is to use public transit. If going car-free isn’t an option for you, try reducing car usage bit by bit, perhaps replacing one drive per week with bus, train, or carpool rides. The IRS even allows most employers to offer qualified transportation benefit programs, where you can pay for public transit plans with pre-tax income, further increasing the financial benefits of public transit. Ask your manager about implementing a commuter benefit program at your workplace today!
  • And for journeys with more out-of-the-way destinations, bicycles can help bolster the reach of a transit network. Advocate for bike lanes in your community to facilitate increased access to biking, and explore the exciting world of e-bikes, including the steadily growing list of state and local e-bike rebate and tax credit programs, if you want to turbo-charge your two-wheeled adventures.
  • Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't suggest replacing gas-powered personal vehicles with electrified versions whenever possible. There are dozens of federal, state, and local government initiatives to make the transition more affordable, and as EVs go mainstream, an increasing variety of makes and models are on the market. 

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Get Involved in Your Community

All politics are local, and climate is no exception. Many of the most impactful climate initiatives happen at state and local levels, making it important for you to speak up in support of climate-friendly legislation whenever possible. 

  • Maybe you think your neighborhood needs a new bike lane. Or perhaps you would like to see your county incentivize more sustainable and affordable multi-family housing developments. Whatever your cause, one place to start is by attending a local government meeting. While the specifics of when and how to join a municipal government's deliberations vary by locale, this guide from a local Bay Area publication has great tips for those looking to exercise their right to participate in the functions of their local government. How your city manages housing and transit has a bigger impact than what kind of straw you use.
  • A voice is most powerful when it is backed up by allies. One easy way to find other like-minded climate advocates is by joining a local chapter of a climate advocacy organization, such as Climate Changemakers.
  • And remember to vote! After doing the hard work of showing up at city council meetings and rallying others to your cause, you would only be short-changing yourself if you didn't vote if eligible. Each state has different rules about when and how to register and cast a ballot, but the nonprofit Vote.org makes the process of registering to vote for the first time, updating your address, or confirming that you are registered for an upcoming election as simple as possible.

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Have a Climate Conversation

As we like to say, “addressing the climate crisis begins by talking about it.” Simply having a conversation – whether it’s with friends, coworkers or neighbors – and talking about climate-related fears and goals can go a long way toward forming connections, building understanding and a shared sense of urgency around our climate emergency.

  • People are far more likely to get involved in a cause if the ask to join comes from someone they know. You might not realize it, but you have a powerful network of your own primed for outreach. Climate Changemakers has a great guide to mobilizing your network to take action on climate policy.
  • Perhaps you know someone who is curious about the climate crisis but feels overwhelmed by all the jargon thrown around by those who are immersed in the field. Our staff put together an introductory playlist for those new to their climate journey that avoids dense terminology without dipping into condescension. Share the link in your group chats today!
  • While you’re at it, continue your own education about climate challenges and solutions. We have an extensive archive of episodes on everything from geothermal and nuclear power to climate lawsuits to the Inflation Reduction Act to batteries to agriculture and so much more.
  • And not all climate conversations have to take place IRL! Amplifying accurate and accessible climate content on social media is a low-lift, high-reach way to expose others you know to the realities of the climate crisis. We have bite-sized social media videos ready for reposting on both YouTube and TikTok

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