A Guide to Personal Climate Goals: Some may argue governments and large corporations are solely responsible for solving the climate crisis—and a regular person can’t make real change. But I disagree. Yes, governments and corporations are vital players needed for change, but everyday humans have a significant role to play too.
By Ellie Huizenga
Our daily actions make a difference, and earth-friendly initiatives in our everyday lives can be catalysts for change. But, taking action, well, that’s easier said than done. Where do you even start?
I asked myself that question three years ago. Since then, I set new year’s resolutions focused on helping the planet every year. And, if you’re super goal-oriented (like me), it’s a powerful way to create everyday change.
In the past, I have set goals like eating less meat, composting, and offsetting my carbon footprint. So far, these resolutions have become daily habits. Over the last three years, I have become a vegetarian, use a local composting company that helps me compost in the city, and automatically offset my carbon footprint every month.
Personal Climate Goals for 2022
So, what climate actions should I prioritize this year? After researching what actions would have the most impact (and would be the most maintainable), here are the resolutions I set:
Make my home more energy efficient
Around one-fourth of global greenhouse gases are tied to burning fossil fuels for heating and electricity. By switching to sustainable energy, I’m reducing my CO2 emissions, minimizing my reliance on fossil fuels, and supporting clean energy companies.
Because I use appliances like dishwashers, air conditioners, and refrigerators, I know I tend to consume high energy levels. In the coming year, I’d like to make my home more energy efficient in the long run.
Here are the three ways I plan to achieve this goal:
- Upgrade, replace, or seal all my windows: I currently live in the desert, which means I experience extreme heat and cold. Insulating my windows is an instant and long-term energy efficiency solution.
- Find a clean energy company: The energy company that the previous owners of my home used still utilizes fossil fuels. To be more sustainable, switching to a clean energy company is a maintainable change I can make now.
- Install solar panels: There is no denying that solar panels are expensive, so—based on the cost—I will start budgeting for the extra initial expense of purchasing and installation in the future.
Get more involved in local advocacy
Advocacy isn’t a one-time action, but it is a necessary tactic required for systematic change. If everyday people are not demanding change from governments (and corporations), there will be no improvement in the climate fight.
I have always been an excited and avid voter. But, being invested locally—well, I knew this was an area I could grow. So, I set the goal to be more involved in local advocacy.
Want to join me in this goal? Here are the three ways I plan to achieve it:
- Campaign for the local candidate I support:
- Step one: Research current elected officials and their opponents to determine who is the best choice (for me) to support.
- Step two: Reach out to their campaign to see where they could use volunteers.
- Advocate for local environmental issues:
- Step one: Research environmental issues that are time-sensitive, so I feel the urgency to advocate now.
- Step two: Call my local officials, join protests, and sign petitions.
- Support a local environmental justice organization:
- Step one: Research local organizations, making sure I find one that is active.
- Step two: Determine if and how I want to support; perhaps it’s time or money (or both.
Offset my carbon footprint, more
The rise of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the main drivers of the climate crisis. You produce greenhouse gases (GHGs) directly or indirectly during your lifetime. This is known as your carbon footprint.
Offsetting your carbon footprint can make a huge difference if done the right way. Last year, I set the goal to offset my (and my partner’s) carbon footprint. This was one of the most maintainable goals to achieve because I set up automatic monthly payments—which meant I was offsetting my carbon footprint without thinking about it.
Wanting to do more this year, I set a goal to offset my air travel. I use Project Wren to offset my carbon footprint—and I plan to use them to offset my flights. I choose them for their transparency and ease of use.
Want to explore some other carbon offsetting companies you could use? Here are a few:
Doing what you can, when you can, where you can
Climate action will look different for everyone—we all have different strengths, time allowances, and monetary constraints. And that’s okay.
If the goals I set this year don’t resonate with you, here are some other ideas to help you jumpstart climate goals that work for you:
- Buy foodstuffs in bulk
- Compost your food waste
- Choose organic and local foods that are in season
- Don’t buy fast fashion
- Support and buy from sustainable companies
- Avoid plastic wherever you can
- Launder your clothes in cold water
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Stop buying bottled water
- If you drink beer, take a growler to your local brewery
- Opt to receive digital letters and notices
- Repurpose glass jars
- Use cloths instead of paper towels
Although a new year is a great chance to jumpstart a new habit, the truth is, you can launch personal climate goals anytime and anywhere. And when we all do our part, that’s when real change happens.