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Climate Actions at Home

August 16, 2023

By Annica Brocker, Park Interpreter

In a battle like climate change, people tend to focus on large-scale actions that need to begin immediately. Actions that only public policies and large companies can enact and fund. Most people are not able to help or have a complete say in these few big actions, but there are many small actions in your life that can truly make a difference.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. These three words have been shared as the best way for people to make an impact, but most only focus on recycling. Recycling is very important, but you need to make sure you are recycling correctly. Michigan has some very helpful raccoons that can clear up any confusion. You can visit for rules, regulations, and additional resources that can help you get on the right recycling track. In addition to bettering your recycling habits, buying or using materials that are easier to recycle like paper, cardboard, glass, and aluminum instead of plastic is a simple switch to make for the health of the planet.

Reusing household items instead of recycling or throwing them away allows the items to live a second life. Glass jars can be used as storage for pantry items, leftovers, and canned or pickled foods. Jars are also useful for shaking up sauces and as drinking glasses. Cardboard egg cartons and toilet paper rolls make excellent fire starters while camping or at home. Even old and holey clothes can be used for wrapping gifts, reusable makeup removing pads, or simply rags.

Reducing our waste cuts out the need for recycling altogether, and the best way to reduce waste is to change our daily habits. Instead of relying on the container a restaurant provides for any leftovers, try to remember to bring your own container from home! Most coffee shops will fill your own cup or to-go mugs and give you a small discount. Some supermarkets will also offer a small discount for shoppers that bring a reusable tote or bag to the store. Adding up each of these small changes in a week reduces your waste immensely.

Another “r” word that you can add to your repertoire is Refuse. Just like reducing, refusing certain things can be difficult to remember at first, but practice makes perfect! When ordering or picking up takeout, decline any utensils or straws the restaurant offers you. If you’re at a store and forget a reusable bag but only have a couple of items, refuse a plastic or paper bag in favor of using your arms. The hardest things to refuse in life are free, like promotional items that seem useful at the time. When you get home, you realize you have a collection of branded stress balls, keychains, plastic water bottles, and sunglasses. Reminding yourself that all of these things will end up in the garbage one day can help you enforce your values and stop unnecessary waste.

In addition to different ways of using and avoiding waste, changing our food habits is a great way to reduce climate change. Throwing away less food whether as leftovers or food that has gone bad in your pantry or fridge is a huge, but a hard step to take. Why is this such a huge step? Food that ends up in landfills and starts to rot create greenhouse gasses. Think of greenhouse gasses in Earth’s atmosphere as blankets on a bed. The more blankets on the bed, the more the bed will hold in heat. Different blankets hold in heat more than others. The same is true for gasses. Different gasses hold in more heat in the atmosphere, and more gasses make the atmosphere even hotter. Eating more plants compared to meat or other animal products can also reduce greenhouse gasses. Pigs, cows, and other animals used for food production are gassy creatures, or the makers of super warming blankets.

Whether you choose to make all these changes at once or add in each of these changes slowly, you can make a huge difference in our fight against climate change!

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