6 Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Help With the Climate Crisis

A woman prepares a plant-based meal.
A woman prepares a plant-based meal. FreshSplash / E+ / Getty Images

Sometimes it feels as if there’s not much we as individuals can do to help with the climate crisis. It’s as though our actions feel like drops in the bucket compared to the overwhelming threat of climate change. But, according to a new study, our actions can make an enormous difference in reducing emissions and staving off the worst effects of climate change.

The study found that making “The JUMP” — a new movement to prompt relatively wealthy people to commit to making these six changes within ten years — could be responsible for a fourth of the reductions in emissions necessary to achieve a global heating limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, reported The Guardian.

“This ends once and for all the debate about whether citizens can have a role in protecting our earth. We don’t have time to wait for one group to act, we need ‘all action from all actors now,’” said co-founder of The JUMP Tom Bailey, as The Guardian reported.

The study, published on Monday and conducted by scholars from Leeds University in the UK, found that there are six specific lifestyle changes that the people and governments of rich countries can commit to that have the potential to greatly reduce the overconsumption that is a huge contributor to the climate crisis.

The research was analyzed by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which evaluates the effects of people’s consumption in 97 of the leading cities of the world, as well as experts from the design and engineering firm Arup.

According to WION, the lifestyle changes — which The JUMP encourages people to sign up for and implement for one, three or six months and to enact as much as they can even if it’s not 100 percent successful — include:

  • Eating a mostly plant-based diet, with no waste and healthy portions.
  • Buying no more than three new items of clothing per year.
  • Taking at most one short-haul flight every three years and one long-haul flight every eight years.
  • Keeping electrical products for a minimum of seven years.
  • Getting rid of personal motor vehicles or using the one you have for longer.
  • Making at least one life shift to impact the overall system, such as switching to green energy or changing your pension supplier.

“This is not just new information, or a normal behaviour change ‘campaign,’ but a fun movement that is working to go way beyond the usual ‘greenie’ suspects,” Bailey said, as reported by The Guardian. “A movement that is able to engage all types of people… engaging and being led by communities of colour and the economically excluded.”

Examination of the data concluded that the six steps have the potential to reduce global emissions by 25 to 27 percent.

Ben Smith, leader of the analysis and director of climate change at Arup, said that it was important for everyone in all parts of society to do something, and individual action was one of the simplest places to start.

“Our research shows that all of us, from politicians, city and business leaders to individual citizens, have important roles to play. And it is clear there’s lots that we can do as individuals, and that this is one of the easiest and quickest places to start,” Smith said, as The Guardian reported.

The implementation of some of the changes may be difficult for people who live in places where public transportation is inaccessible, for instance, and alternatives to individual vehicles will depend upon changes to the overall system.

According to Bailey, in the recent past it was widely believed in climate circles that the actions of individuals didn’t have as much of an effect on climate change as governments and corporations, and that the only recourse was to collectively call for systematic change by these groups.

“The research is clear that governments and the private sector have the largest role to play but it is also equally clear from our analysis that individuals and communities can make a huge difference,” Bailey said, as The Guardian reported.

Taking part in The JUMP doesn’t have to mean carrying out all of the pledges perfectly; simply “making a start” can have a significant effect, said Bailey.

“This isn’t going back to the stone age, it’s just finding a balance. Less consuming in relatively rich western countries can mean more creativity, comedy, connection… Live for joy, not for stuff,” Bailey said, as reported by The Guardian.

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