April 22 is Earth Day, so there's no time like the present to help the environment by integrating some simple but impactful habits into your daily routine. In particular, actively fighting climate change is more important now than ever.
Data released by NASA and NOAA showed that 2016 was the hottest year on record — 2015 previously held the top spot, so the trend is headed in a dangerous direction.
Not sure where to begin? We've got you covered. These four habits will help combat climate change and its damaging effects.
1. Carpool or take public transit
Over 75 percent of American commuters drive to work solo, and data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that the average passenger vehicle emits 4.7 metric tons of carbon each year. Yikes. Carpooling at least once (or preferably more!) times per week can make a huge difference.
For the city dwellers among us who don't have cars, it's tempting to use our rideshare app of choice every chance we get — but public transit is really kind to Mother Earth. Plus, it'll save you some money so it's a win-win.
2. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs
Ditch traditional light bulbs in favor of energy-efficient bulbs such as halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Not only do they last anywhere between 3 and 25 times longer than a traditional bulb, but they use about 25 percent to 80 percent less energy — so they're good for the environment and you'll save money.
3. Make some diet adjustments
According to a recent study conducted at University of California — Santa Barbara, a healthier diet can have a major impact on the reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions. Don't worry, you don't need to give up all your favorite foods entirely.
Cutting back on red meat and processed meats is healthy for your body and Mother Earth — and researchers recommend adding more vegetables, fruit, and whole grains to your diet (natch). Fish and non-red meat are also recommended — especially if you buy free range products whenever possible.
4. Avoid plastics
Plastic pollution is a major contributor to global warming. We've all been guilty at one time or another of tossing our plastic water bottles in the trash, or hauling about 10 bags home from the grocery store. This is an easy one to solve — get a water bottle you love (having a really pretty one makes it way more fun, IMHO) and make a habit of keeping it in your handbag and bringing it to the gym.
Bring reusable tote bags to the grocery store. Keep them right near the front door, if possible — it makes it way easier to remember to grab your totes before you go shopping.
Let's live every day like it's Earth Day — a few small lifestyle changes can make a major difference, especially if we all do our part.
Citations: NASA, NOAA Data Show 2016 Warmest Year on Record Globally (NASA), 6 Things You Might Be Doing Daily That Contribute to Climate Change (GreenGeeks), How Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Compare with Traditional Incandescents (Energy.gov), Diet and global climate change (Science Daily), Plastic Pollution and Climate Change (Plastic Pollution Coalition)