This is the third and final in a series of 3 questions and answers about climate change. The prior articles explained climate crisis and why we should care about it. This article below is focused on the actions we can take to limit the adverse effects of climate change.
Q21. What can we do about the Climate Change? What are some specific and actionable things that we can do to help with these issues at an individual and citizen level, Community and Corporate level, Jain society and pathshala level where we can influence?
With the previous two articles, we have taken the first step to cultivate the awareness in ourselves that climate change is real. That it is a problem, that it is urgent, and that we have a responsibility to address it, individually and collectively. When taking steps to address climate change, we should start with a positive outlook that it is possible to improve things. Giving up, feeling hopeless is not going to help, or going into denial is not going to change the reality.
You must have heard this popular term “Go Green” being used with Save the environment or Stop this Climate Change.
What Does it mean to “Go Green”?
Living an environment friendly life is called “Going Green”. It is the process of changing one’s lifestyle and collectively communities’ way of living for the safety and benefits of the environment and to stop adverse climate changes. “Going Green” means being conscious about the negative impact of our direct and indirect actions on the environment, on global warming, pollution, lack of animal habitat, careless use of finite essential resources etc.
When it comes to making progress on important issues like” Climate Change”, let’s remember that actions can come in many forms, and we should not solely rely on just one form of actions or the other:
1) small, personal everyday choices,
2) major individual lifestyle choices
3) collective action at local, national, and global levels
Large % of the population thinks that somehow only sweeping government policies or collective community actions can only bring the necessary significant impact. Meanwhile, we think, how much of an adverse impact is it going to have on the environment, if I use a few plastic water bottles, polythene bags or a few plane rides?
This paradox, where we may think that how the small, individual conscious changes I make at an individual level will help save the environment is important to understand. You are right, a few small actions aren’t enough. However, over the years, individually and collectively we can bring a significant difference by incrementally making the right decisions and choices every day. There are many ways, big and small, short-term and long-term, and individual or collective to address climate challenges.
“Nothing is too small to matter.
ANDNo one is too small to make a difference.”
Let’s start with looking at ways to “Go Green” that aligns with our Jain Values:
Remember, it is everyone’s responsibility, because:
OUR PLANET IS DEAR AND OUR CRISIS ARE REAL!!
Tell yourself this
IF NOT ME THEN WHO? IF NOT NOW THEN WHEN?
Below please find some more actionable ways and ideas to “Go Green”:
Easy ways to “Go Green” @ Individual Level
Change Food Preferences
Please read this animal-agriculture-position-paper to understand how animal agriculture is one of the biggest reason for Climate Change and Environmental Crisis - https://www.climatehealers.org/animal-agriculture-position-paper
Few Visual Graphs showing the impacts of Animal Agriculture over decades:
Fig. 4.1. The biomass of wild animals, humans and farmed animals over time. Human biomass was negligible compared to that of wild animals 10K years ago. Today, this biomass ratio is inverted and biomass levels are unsustainable.
Fig. A.2. How the ice-free land area of the planet is distributed for different uses. Please note that pristine forests constitute just 9%, while Animal Grazing occurs on 37% of the land area. Source: 2019 IPCC Special Report.
Another good article showing what impact Dairy Vs. Plant based milk has on Environment: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46654042
Producing a glass of dairy milk every day for a year requires 650 sq m (7,000 sq ft) of land, the equivalent of two tennis courts and more than 10 times as much as the same amount of oat milk, according to this study.
People tend to underestimate the greenhouse gas emissions from food, and dairy milk is no exception, according to research by Dr Adrian Camilleri, a psychologist at the University of Technology Sydney.
"The greenhouse gas emissions from milk are about 30 times higher than what people estimate," Dr Camilleri told BBC News.
"I suspect that most consumers underestimate the greenhouse gas emissions saved by switching from dairy milk to plant-based milk such as soy milk." - Dr Camilleri
Save Water and Conserve Energy at Home:
- Do not fill up the bathtubs. Instead of a head shower, use a bucket and tumbler.
- Turn off the tap while brushing, also while brushing use water in a cup
- Do not throw away collected water, reuse it to water plants. However, water plants only when needed and not all the time
- Fix toilets when broken to stop wastage of water
- Be mindful of running less laundry to save water and conserve energy. Choose to air dry
- Use water wisely in the kitchen, while washing dishes
- Be mindful of dishwasher runs to save water and conserve energy
- Stay in the same room to avoid heating, cooling, or lighting up the whole house. Turn off lights once you leave the room/area.
- Use the fan instead of air conditioning, and when using AC, set the temperature higher.
- In wintertime, set the heat lower. Wear layers of clothing to stay warm.
Reduce and Refuse- adopt minimalism and avoid consumerism:
Seventh Anuvrat – Bhog-Upbhog Pariman Vrata
- Use paper products when required, however keep the use of it limited to only when required
- Do not waste food and Do not waste paper
- Limit our needs: we don’t need 20 pairs of shoes, 40 pairs of shirts, pants, dresses or jackets. Purchase well-made, durable clothing, and avoid "fast fashion"
- Get clothes that don’t have animal fur/products on them such as: Leather, wool, silk, cashmere, etc.
Recycle and Reuse:
- Use reusable bags for shopping, reusable water bottles instead of plastic bags or bottles
- Use steel, glass or ceramic dishes, spoons, forks, knives and straws instead of disposables
- Use handkerchief when needed and not Kleenex wipes
- Use instant coffee rather than a machine and thereby reducing the paper wastage due to filters
- Properly recycle paper, plastic and other items as much as possible
- Donate toys and other used but good conditioned household items. Choose to buy used items when safe and possible
Travel and Commuting: (Sixth Anuvrat – Dig Parimana Vrata)
- Choose low-carbon mode of daily commute: walk, run, bike, use of public transportation, bus to school, Vanpool for office etc. whenever possible
- Choose local fun locations for holidays/vacations. Keep Air travels to minimal, only when required and no better choice. This is because high altitude emissions are more potent to the climate then the same emissions at the ground level
- Choose to avoid cruise ship vacations to eliminate/reduce adverse impact on ocean life
- Green Driving - if possible, switch to Electric car instead of Gasoline or diesel
- Consider size of the car for commuting needs Vs. comfort
- Find more ideas on Green Transportation on - Switchyourthinking
Home Energy, Landscape and Consumption:
- Implement energy efficient ways to keep your home cool during summer, such as, keep air-conditioner at 24 C temperature, every degree cooler than this uses 10% more energy, use ceiling fan or portable fan, keep curtains closed, keep home well insulated etc.
- Implement energy efficient ways to keep your home warm during winter, such as, keep your home well insulated, add on one or more clothing layers yourself - easier to insulate yourself than entire home, avoid space heaters as it consumes a lot of energy etc.
- Reduce home energy use through measures such as use of rooftop solar panels, energy efficient and green energy starred appliances, heat reflective paints, lowering water heater temperature and improving heating and cooling unit’s efficiency
- Install bidet systems in bathrooms to reduce use of toilet papers
- Adopt eco-friendly ways for landscaping, gardening outdoor space in your homes, such as, maximizing water usage by choosing right time of the day to water lawn, trees and plants, use of mulch bed to reduce water evaporation, harvest rainwater to use for gardening, choose drought-resistant plants etc.
- Install modern irrigation system for watering lawn
- Use solar lights for outdoor use
Consider these lifestyle changes to “Go Green”
- Consider living in or near city premises where public transportation is easily accessible
- Consider moving into smaller houses and limit household need
- Consider family planning to have fewer kids
- Consider choosing a career in environmental justice or volunteer in such projects
Think bigger than at Individual level and influence your family, friends, neighborhood, school, community and colleagues!
Ways to “Go Green” @ Citizen Level
From national governments to businesses, from organizations to individual citizens, we all have a role to play in stopping the Climate Change. The reason is individual actions alone will not save the planet and stop environmental damages. We need big players’ commitment, from business and political leaders at all levels of society to reduce carbon emissions, phase-out fossil fuels, and switch to clean energy.
When it comes to Climate change, Citizen actions matter:
- Read about and understand why “The Paris Agreement on Climate Change” was signed by the World Leaders. How we as citizens can help drive changes through implementation of this agreement by our Government
- Learn about digital media, platforms that are created to raise Climate Change awareness, such as, DMZ (Digital Media Zone) - a bridge between UN (United Nations) and general public was used to have engaging communication during Paris agreement
- One other effective way to make a positive impact is by funding the Charities, Eco-friendly Companies that support or invent renewable energy technologies, energy efficient sources, or do tree planting particularly in developing nations
- Tell TV Networks and Social Media Platforms to call “Climate Change” a Crisis
- Tell your local Congress to fight for a new Green Deal
- Sign petitions and participate safely in protests and rally to create awareness
- Use Ecosia: Ecosia is a search engine (like google) that donates 80% or more of its profits to nonprofit organizations dedicated to reforestation
Ways to “Go Green” in your Jain Center, Pathshala or Neighborhood Community
- Create Climate Change Crisis awareness in kids and adults at Jain Centers and Pathshalas and teach our responsibilities as Jains to adopt environment friendly lifestyle
- Set up “Go Green” Clubs/Committees to promote and adopt Green ways within Jain centers and Pathshalas to lead by example
- Create the awareness of using reusable grocery bags, dinnerware’s and straws
- Promote limited use of plastic and recycling of glass, metals, paper, and plastic
- Implement creative ways to compost food waste in your neighborhood, grow community garden
- Throw a block party on “Earth Day” to create the awareness, have “Tree Planting” day to grow more trees in the neighborhood
- Create a volunteer community cleanup day
- Be part of HOA (Homeowner Association) to drive and implement these changes
- Promote and participate in Carpool, Vanpool for work commute or kids’ activities
- Educate neighborhood kids about environmental issues and climate change
- Write messages about saving the environment on the sidewalks using chalk
Few examples of some of the Jain Centers “Going Green” in North America:
- Jain Center of Los Angeles only serves Vegan food for all events/gatherings by the center
- Jain Center of Chicago and North Carolina uses biodegradable disposable dinnerware’s for all events by the center
- Jain Center of North Carolina recycles all Jain Scriptures/Books during any events/gatherings
Ways to “Go Green” @ Schools and Offices
- “Go Green” with your school or office supplies, such as, buy water-based paints for a non-toxic alternative, pencils made from recycled wood, solar panel calculators, fabric backpacks and not plastic,
- Use biodegradable water bottles, cups and metal utensils (instead of Ziploc bags and plastic spoons/forks) etc.
- Use less paper napkins, towels instead use hand air dryers. Petition to install air dryers in school and office bathrooms
- Reuse notebooks, folders, crayons, etc. instead of buying new packs every school year
- Teach kids to finish their food at school, don’t throw it away
- Don’t create trash by using both sides of papers, don’t print unnecessary papers if not needed
- Ask School and Office administration to provide easy access to recycle in the buildings, recycle waste bins, garbage bins throughout the facility
- Carpool with others or take a school bus
- Petition to install solar panels on the school and office rooftops
- Ask your teacher to open the blinds for natural sunlight, or use lamps instead of overhead lights, or do the same in offices. Petition to switch lights to LEDS
- Start a Go Green club at your school and/or your office (planting trees, rain gardens etc.)
Ways to Plan “Green Event” - house parties, weddings, conferences, or conventions
It’s not necessary to spend a fortune to plan your Green Event. Many of these ideas will actually help you cut your event’s overall cost and provide added benefits for your guests. All of this at the same time as helping to save our dear Planet!
- Save trees, send digital invitation, and set up digital ticketing
- Use an “Event App” to communicate essential information and agenda about the event
- Partner with public transports for discounted rates for a bigger event to promote public transportation, set up group transportation or encourage car/ride sharing
- Choose eco-friendly, seasonal and local food menu
- Avoid over catering to avoid food wastage. Also, ensure any unconsumed perishable food will be handled correctly so it can be donated to food salvage programs.
- Use compostable party decorations. Or try to reuse party decor year over year, recycle these with friends and family when possible.
- When it comes to sourcing things required for the event, keep it local as much as possible to cut down on transportation
- Do not use plastic silverware during large events, because it is hard to recycle without washing them. Instead opt to use compostable silverware and paper straws to help the environment.
- At the event, don’t hand out plastic water bottles and individually wrapped items to participants. Instead, place glasses and water pitchers in the meeting space
- Use of recycled, biodegradable paper towels, tissue paper, toilet paper
- Streamline waste management at your events - keep the garbage bins and recycle bins accessible throughout event facility
- Avoid giving return gifts or kids’ goody bags with so many little toys and items. Most of them are one time use and throw. Instead give a gift card or e-gift card or some edible items as return gifts.
- Find more ways for hosting a Green Event here - Eco-Friendly Events: Surprisingly Simple
Hope this blog and shared information will give us the right inspiration, motivation and plenty of concrete, specific and actionable ideas that we can start implementing right away for creating a positive impact on Climate Change to save the environment and our mother planet EARTH.
Additional the JAINA Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee has prepared a comprehensive statement summarizing the problem of climate change from a Jain perspective. We encourage readers to learn more at Jain Declaration on the Climate Crisis.