Most of us can see the impact on the news—stronger hurricanes, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, fires and drought—but many of us in Tennessee are also starting to see how climate change is making a dent in our own communities. Farmers aren’t seeing the same yields they used to, and communities near rivers, lakes, and tributaries are experiencing more frequent flooding with higher rainfall. Summers are dragging on longer—not to mention getting hotter.
Some people shrug off climate change. But there are plenty of reasons to be concerned—some of them center on your health and the health of your family. With climate change comes higher rates of asthma and heat stroke, which pose greater health risks to children and seniors.
It sounds scary—and it should—but all hope isn’t lost. We can do things big and small that can make a large dent in climate change. Plus, when you act, politicians and corporations are more likely to act, too. Living an environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. Here are six budget-friendly ideas that can help stop climate change from damaging your life, home, and community.
Energy-Efficient Appliances. Installing appliances that use less energy not only saves on your monthly utility bill, it also saves the environment. You can take the savings a step farther by purchasing gently used energy-efficient appliances. All you need to do is look for brands with an Energy Star label, such as Whirlpool, General Electric, Kenmore, LG Electronics, Maytag and more.
Community Gardens. Participating in a community garden is a powerful way to fight climate change, bring healthy, whole foods to your table, fight crime in your neighborhood, and make friends. Connecting with nature and your neighbors builds deep respect for the connectedness of people and the planet.
Rain Barrels. Collecting rainwater to use in your garden can save time, money, and the environment. The best part is you hardly have to do anything—one quarter of an inch of rain can fill three rain barrels. Using water for our garden and lawn watering accounts for 40 percent of residential water use in the warmer months. Collecting water in a rain barrel can also help prevent erosion and reduce runoff pollution.
Solar Panels. Though costly upfront, solar panels have been shown to not only reduce electricity bills, but many homeowners put extra electricity back into the grid— and get paid for it. Plus, the federal (and many state) government offer tax breaks and other financial incentives to people purchasing and installing solar panels. The cost of many solar panel systems can be offset in as little as four years. After that, it’s all profits—for you and the environment.
Public Transportation. Whether you take the bus, share a car, or ride your bike, reducing your carbon footprint with transportation is one of the quickest and easiest ways to fight climate change. United States transportation—from cars to trains to planes—is responsible for nearly 30 percent of all emissions released into the atmosphere each year.
Eat Local. Buying foods and products grown, made, and sold in your own community is a bold and effective way to make a dent in the impact of climate change. Not only do you help limit the pollution of items being shipped all over to be produced, packaged, or assembled, you also consume products that are more natural to your area. Limiting the amount of meat you eat will impact climate change, too. But carnivores don’t fret—eating locally raised animals is much better than meat shipped in from across the globe.
Climate change has become a political buzzword—and the concept gets many people confused, afraid, and sometimes angry. Even if climate change isn’t a major concern for you, living an eco-friendly lifestyle can save you big time—and it’s just a bonus that the environment benefits, too!