Getting engaged in the fight to protect our planet can feel daunting. It can be hard to see the everyday impact of our efforts. Despite our hard work, we might find ourselves asking, “Am I really making a difference?”
This question is an understandable one. And some experts have even argued that putting too much emphasis on taking individual action can distract from the very real necessity of bigger actors with more influence like businesses and governments to lead the way in our climate fight. After all, a massive company has a much bigger carbon footprint than an individual.
But while it’s true that the majority of climate action should come from those entities that have the largest carbon footprints and carbon emissions, it’s indisputable that we also need to take individual action. Our efforts do make a difference, and the urgency is evermore pressing today as we begin to see and suffer from the environmental consequences of our warming planet.
Plus, many of the things we can do to help the environment and save our planet can also significantly benefit us. So fighting to protect our planet and greening your daily habits is really a win for the planet and a win for you. Here are the top things you can to do help save our planet.
Renewable energy is one of the most important ways we can collectively achieve a green energy future. And now, everyday energy users can play a part in paving the way to a clean energy future.
The recent advancements in clean energy technology and the evolution of local energy policies have created ways for homeowners and renters to support clean energy generation and benefit from its lower costs. For example, you can install solar panels on your roof and generate your own clean electricity every day! And if you own a farm or a big plot of land, you could even look into installing wind turbines.
But for those of us who don’t own a home or don't have eligible rooves or simply can’t afford the upfront cost of solar panels, there are options too.
Join a local community solar program, support clean energy and save money—no rooftop installation required
Want guaranteed savings on your annual electricity cost? Join a local community solar program. You may not be able to install your own solar system at home, but you might have access to a community solar program in your city or town with similar benefits.
Community solar programs let you buy or lease shares or "credits" of a solar farm—your contribution helps support the operation of that farm so it can generate clean, solar energy for the overall grid. You don't directly receive electricity from the solar power you're supporting, but thanks to government incentives, you'll get a discount on your own electricity bill (which on an annual basis will be more than what you're paying for the solar farm shares—so you always net out with savings). Essentially, you're being rewarded with savings because you're enabling solar generation and development in your state.
There are no upfront costs to join a community solar program, no panel installation required, and no ongoing maintenance—it's a no brainer!
Switch to a cleaner, solar-powered electricity supply at home
If you can't install a solar array or don't want to make the commitment, and there isn't an eligible community soalr program in your area—you may still be able to benefit from the eco-savings of solar power. If you live in a deregulated energy state, you can shop around and choose who provides your electricity. Switching your home's electricity plan away from your basic utility service (often a "mixed" plan backed by part fossil fuels, part renewables)—and into a plan that is backed by 100% renewable sources including solar—can significantly lower your daily carbon footprint. It's a great alternative to solar installation and is available to you whether you own or rent. Shopping the supplier marketplace and analyzing contracts can be a bit confusing and time consuming. So let Perch do it for you. With Perch, we'll handle all the heavy lifting of switching for you. And the best part is we'll always find you the most affordable clean electricity plan compared to similar options in the market. So going green doesn't have to be expensive.
Drought is one of the main consequences that we will face in the coming years as a result of climate change. That means that conserving water and reducing the amount we waste every day can be a huge step towards protecting our planet. Try little things like turning off the water in between brushing your teeth. Or installing a low-flow showerhead to cut down the amount of water you use when you shower. These efforts will both conserve water and reduce what you owe your utility every month for water. A win-win!
Limiting the carbon footprint of your food can make a big difference when it comes to greening your diet. Some foods have much larger footprints than others due to the amount of energy it takes to process that food and also how much energy it takes to store it and preserve it. For example, meat, cheese, and eggs all have much higher footprints than locally grown vegetables and fruits. In fact, the livestock industry alone accounts for 14.5% of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. And food production in general accounts for over 25% of our global greenhouse gas emissions.
Try small steps towards lowering your foodprint like meatless Mondays or buying locally-grown, in-season fruits and vegetables from your grocery store. Sustainable grocery shopping ineveitably leads to more eco-friendly diet choices. Once you build up momentum, you can try growing greens yourself to really lower your impact!
For bonus points, you can use re-useable bags when you go to the grocery store.
In addition to supporting renewable energy, another way you can take action is by cutting down on your electricity usage. There are a number of ways you can do this, but some of our favourites include:
See more energy-saving habits in our ultimate guide to saving on your electricity costs.
We all have to take flights and drive places from time to time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t limit our emissions from the small things. Did you know that if we replaced just half of the 10 billion annual under-1-mile car trips that we take every year with walking, we would save about 2 million metric tons of carbon annually? That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 400,000 cars off the road every year.
If you do drive often and you can afford an electric vehicle, that's far and away the greener choice when compared to a gas vehicle.
You can also prioritize limiting your waste. Pollution from things like plastic is also destroying our planet and hurting its ability to be climate resistant. Make sure you recycle when you can, and better yet, try to cut down on your waste altogether.
Don’t have the time to green your daily habits? You can still make a huge impact with your voting. Every year there are green initiatives and policies on your local ballot. Make sure you get out and vote so you can show your support for these initiatives.
You can also try donating to some of your favourite organizations that are working to protect the planet. Here are a couple of ones that we love:
There are tons of things you can do to help save our planet and protect the natural world, but it can also be hard to measure impact. How do you know if what you are doing is really making a difference if you can’t see the effects in your day-to-day?
We recommend trying to calculate your carbon footprint so you can at least get a sense of how much of a difference you’re making with the small things you are doing.
To get an accurate number on your carbon footprint, you can use calculators like the EPA’s greenhouse gas emission calculator and household carbon calculator, or the carbon footprint calculator from the Nature Conservancy.
At Perch, we’ve also created our own energy cost calculators to help you measure the cost and environmental impact of your common household electrical appliances.
Taking climate action on your own may feel daunting or even ineffective. But the truth of the matter is that our individual efforts DO make a difference, and in order to truly save our planet, we need to build a culture around taking climate action and building green habits together.
Perch is hoping to help solve some pieces of the puzzle by matching every energy users like yourself to local community solar projects, or helping you switch to a cleaner electricity supply at your own home, apartment or business. Together, we can accelerate the collective transition to cleaner, renewable electricity.