guest post by Jen Myerscough of St. Louis Earth Day
“Can I really make a difference when it comes to climate change?” St. Louis Earth Day says: “Yes!”
Every glass bottle you keep out of the landfill, every carrot you purchase from a local farmer, every time you turn off the lights, you are lowering the average human contribution to the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change. And don’t discount the influence your actions have over others: when they see you doing these things, they are more likely to do the same.
Just last month our planet’s atmospheric composition crossed a significant threshold: atmospheric carbon levels remained at or above 400 ppm for over one month. What this means is that the amount of greenhouse gases generated from landfills, from transporting food and goods across the planet, and from energy produced by fossil fuels, is now consistently at a level never before seen during human existence.
The data is out there. We are on a trajectory toward major problems. As average temperatures rise, the agricultural industry must adopt new farming practices or grow more heat and drought tolerant crops to adapt. Consider how adaptable you are to different foods. Are you willing to change your diet based on the type of foods farmers are able to grow? A rise in average temperature will also lead to increased health problems among the most vulnerable. The Risky Business Report timelines the progression of various effects of climate change on the Midwest and other regions.
St. Louis Earth Day works EVERY DAY to keep the ideals we discuss on Earth Day at the forefront of minds of those living in the St. Louis area with year-round programming. We work with special events and festivals to provide waste diversion through recycling and composting up to 95% of waste generated at these sorts of events.
Just as your actions set an example for those around you, we help the millions of people who attend local events see just how to manage their waste when they are away from home in a way that does not negatively impact the environment. Look for Recycling On the Go at the next event you attend.
We also operate a program called the Green Dining Alliance, working with local restaurants to tailor their operations in the most sustainable way possible by encouraging things such as: recycling, composting, locally sourcing food and other goods, managing water usage, upgrading to energy efficient lighting, and educating staff and guests about how these practices are good for business and the environment.
Our philosophy is that if we demonstrate the ease with which individuals can reduce contributions to the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, others will follow suit.
So the next time you grab a fountain soda, skip the Styrofoam and ask for a recyclable plastic cup (or bring your own!); the next time go out to eat, look for a restaurant that considers the environment in their daily operations (see www.greendiningalliance.org for a guide); and the next time you are out in public, make sure you seek out a recycling container for your recyclable waste, and if there is none, make some noise about it!
If you already do all of these things, please don’t stop there. Stretch your imagination to develop new habits to further reduce your carbon footprint, and share your ideas with others. Every little bit matters.
This post is part of the June 2015 “Climate Change” series of the Institute for Public Health’s blog. Subscribe to email updates or follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive notifications about our latest blog posts.Tags: Climate change, Community Health, St. Louis