Do your part to stop climate change

Climate change presents a critical threat not only to our generation’s future, but our lives in the present day. We all have a responsibility to stop it, but unfortunately not everyone may agree.

You’ve heard the rhetoric before. You catch a friend of yours throwing away a perfectly recyclable chunk of plastic. Upon politely reprimanding them for their negligence, they return the same old excuse: “It doesn’t really matter what I do anyway. Individual contributions only account for a small portion of the environmental problems our planet faces.” Do not buy into this lie. Unless both governments and corporations get their acts together, individuals like you are the only thing standing between the Earth and climate disaster.

This editorial contains a short guide to how you, as a lone individual, can minimize your negative planetary impact. These steps are shockingly easy to follow, but everybody must be prepared to make small sacrifices. 

Small acts may seem trivial, but every effort can make a difference. For instance, bringing a reusable bag to dining halls instead of getting a plastic bag for every meal can reduce the amount of plastic that you use. Using your own silverware instead of plastic utensils can have the same effect.

Properly disposing of food waste and containers can also make a difference. If you are unsure if something should be put in the trash, recycling or compost, you can consult the “Recyclopedia” released by Brandeis’ Office of Sustainability. Remember to research if your local community recycles the plastic and other materials you’re using before you toss it in the bin. Do not just rely on the number on the plastic container, word of mouth or rumor—looking it up is the best way to be sure about what you can and can not recycle where you live. And when in doubt, throw it out. 

Consuming less meat—particularly red meat—is another method for being more environmentally responsible. Even if that means not consuming meat for one meal a week and gradually building up to one meal without meat a day, any reduction in meat consumption is better than none at all. 

Reducing the amount of paper products you go through can also be beneficial. For instance, try using a hand towel after washing your hands rather than using a paper towel every single time.  

Don’t be discouraged by the rhetoric: We should all do our part to stop climate change. Yes, individual acts won’t completely reverse the years of damage done to our planet. Yes, the 100 fossil fuel companies responsible for over 70 percent of global carbon emissions in the past 30 years are doing a lot more harm than you as an individual. Regardless, these acts are yet another way we all, collectively, can work towards a brighter future. You know, the one where we all survive.

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