We know you love watching videos on your phone. But modern activities— such as plugging in devices, driving cars, and cooling homes—often rely on energy sources such as natural gas, oil, and coal. Those energy sources release a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. When CO2 and other greenhouse gases trap heat that would otherwise escape Earth’s atmosphere, the planet’s temperature rises. That’s called global warming, which causes climate change.
Most scientists believe that climate change is happening and causing rising seas, stronger storms, and shifting habitats for wildlife and people. But you don’t have to give up videos or totally shut down the A/C to fight climate change.
Read on to learn how you can help.
1. USED GOODS ARE GOOD
Reduce and reuse as much as possible. Factories emit carbon dioxide when making new products. So instead of buying new stuff, fix your appliances and clothes. Good thing holey jeans are back in style!
2. SLAY THE VAMPIRE
"Vampire" appliances suck energy even when turned off. Kill these monsters by unplugging phone and laptop chargers when not in use, and use power strips for lamps and TVs. (Bonus: It’ll save your parents money on energy bills!)
3. CLOSE THE DOOR
If you see a business with its door wide open in the summer, ask an adult to help you email or talk to an employee about closing it. An open door to an air-conditioned building can let 2.2 tons of carbon dioxide escape over one summer. That’s about as much as a car on a 5,000- mile road trip.
4. CALCULATE YOUR IMPACT
Use an online carbon footprint calculator to see how much carbon dioxide your actions release. If you know how you’re impacting the planet, you can take steps for change.
5. EAT YOUR VEGGIES
Livestock such as cows account for some of Earth’s heat-trapping gas emissions. (Yep, it’s the cow toots!) Eating more plants cuts down on the need for so much livestock.
6. WALK IT OUT
Walk or bike as much as you can. Biking or walking just one mile a day for a year could save 330 pounds of carbon dioxide—that’s the same as planting four trees and letting them grow for 10 years!
7. SEASON YOUR FRUIT
Try to eat mostly inseason and locally grown fruits and vegetables. This cuts down on the energy used to grow and transport food, which reduces the release of heattrapping gases.Does your favorite ice-cream shop use plastic spoons? Ask an adult to help you talk to the owner about switching to a non-plastic option. Some kinds of spoons are even edible!
8. SEND A POSTCARD
Send a letter, postcard, or drawing to your mayor, government representative, or even the president asking them to do something about climate change.
9. BE A SCIENCE CHAMPION
Not everyone understands climate change. Learn the facts and talk to your friends and family. If everyone gets the science, we can work together to find solutions.
10. AIR DRIED
Hang up your freshly washed clothes to dry. You’ll be saving energy by not using the dryer and helping with chores.
11. HELP OUT AT THE HOTEL
Hang up and reuse your hotel towels instead of washing them after each use. That saves water and energy.
12.SPREAD THE WORD
Write a letter to the editor about climate change in your local or school newspaper. The more people talk about the issue, the better!
13. HOT AND COLD
Wear a warm sweater instead of turning up the heat, and open your windows and turn on a fan instead of blasting the air conditioner.
Photo credits: Katalinks, Shutterstock (2); Nate Allred, Shutterstock (5); Photograph by iofoto, Shutterstock (6); Alex Staroseltsev, Shutterstock (7); Mike Flippo, Shutterstock (10); Cookie Studio, Shutterstock (13)