Climate change is a real problem facing the global community. According to reports by NASA, there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat in the past 650,000 years. But the current warming trend on our planet is the first to be the result of human activity and is occurring at an unprecedented rate, about ten times faster than average. Our global temperature is rising, our oceans are warming, ice sheets are melting, sea levels are rising, and we’re experiencing an increase in extreme natural events like hurricanes.
There is no better time than now to start behaving in a more sustainable manner. To curb climate change and protect our communities and our planet, we need to start making minor changes to our everyday behavior to make a global impact. But change is hard. It’s easy to procrastinate when there is no deadline; there is no exact date for the total depletion of our natural resources, no date for the extinction of any particular species, no date for the total destruction of any particular coastal community. So the need to change seems less urgent. It’s also difficult to make lasting changes to our own behavior. Today, June 5, 2018, is the world’s first One Plastic Free Day. Many people around the world made a pledge to eliminate single-use plastic for one day. But doing so is harder than it sounds. Going to a café to order coffee means you’re probably using a plastic cup and straw or plastic lid on your coffee cup. Eating lunch on the go means you probably used disposable utensils. If you’re going shopping, chances are likely you’ll have your items packed in a plastic bag. Think about the effort it requires to make eliminating single-use plastic entirely an everyday practice. Many of us would give up before we even start.
One suggestion is to start small, with a behavior that is meaningful to you. The ban on plastic straws that is building momentum worldwide is a great example. How easy would it be to just eliminate the use of straws? It’s one small behavior change that is manageable for most people. Simply ask for a drink at a restaurant or bar without a straw. Remove straws from your grocery list when you’re shopping. Take a reusable straw with you if you don’t want to give up straws completely. But to really make this change effective, it should be meaningful to your life; it should be something you’re passionate about. If you’re passionate about the cause, you’re more likely to make the change, even if it’s difficult. You may even find that making that small change influences other related behaviors, like asking for paper bags at the grocery store or bringing your own reusable bags.
Small, individual changes lead to large, worldwide impacts. If everyone worldwide made a commitment to change, the global impact would be astonishing. Countries are already banning plastics in various forms; Kenya has banned plastic bags on a country-wide level. France and The Bahamas have vowed to by 2020. Business are starting to take notice too; Alaska Airlines is ditching plastic straws on flights; the Chicago White Sox are ditching them at all home games. Coca-Cola has a goal to recycle 100% of its packaging by 2030. The world is listening, so Think Globally, Behave Locally and help reduce the impacts of climate change on our planet.