Consume Less, Live More

illustration with person with plants representing the hair, the image looks like a collage
Source: Donna Grethen

As the calendar shifted from 2019 to 2020, it felt like other shifts occurred too—with the US elections on the horizon and Australia on fire for the last few months, many are waking up to the reality of climate change and the growing need to act on it. Trying times are times for trying, right?

This is a moment when we can all look at our habits and challenge ourselves to make change. How can we make do with what we have? When it comes to things we must buy, like food, how can we get the greenest, cleanest food with the least plastic trash coming along with it? Learn how to take some simple steps for cutting down on your personal waste in “Go Green for Free”. And your food can get to you with the least chemical inputs if you’re able to grow it yourself—read how your garden can feed you and nourish itself with regenerative gardening techniques in “Planting Seeds of Climate Hope."

These are choices we can make for ourselves every day, but this is also a moment for inclusivity. As we stand up for the Earth, we have to also consider how we can welcome our friends and neighbors into our environmental and social justice communities, as Polly Barks and Nancy Hu do in “What You Get When You Buy Nothing."

While everyone can produce less waste, we can’t all do it the same way. In order for this lifestyle switch to make a real impact on our planet, it is important to understand the ways that rigid zero-waste “rules” can exclude certain groups and find low-waste solutions that create space for everybody to get involved. Read more about how privilege plays into this movement in “Come As You Are: Zero Waste for Everyone."

This work, like so much of our economic work, starts with individual action. Then we join hands with neighbors to form and improve communities. Our communities can work together around the world to hold companies accountable, because companies are responsible for most of the pollution— through high demand for dirty energy and pushing impulse purchases that lead to waste (the ubiquitous Amazon does both, unfortunately). Our communities join together to hold local and national governments accountable too, as they have the power to rein in corporate excess and allocate funds to clean up pollution or act in other ways to help those who have less means and privilege.

One of the ways you can stand up to corporations is, as always, visiting and participating in our many corporate actions—like Cool It!, our new campaign telling Walmart to end the use of climate-polluting gases in its refrigeration, which make up half of the company’s emissions and rapidly escalate climate change.

Here at Green America, we also join hands in coalitions with allies to leverage change faster. For example, building on our campaigns to pressure Amazon on both environment and justice issues, we have joined the Athena coalition as a leading member. The coalition brings together nearly 50 nonprofits, unions, and community organizations to force Amazon to take accountability for its bad actions to the Earth, its workers, the communities it’s located in, and even to the country. Read more about Amazon and Athena.

What will you do as an individual and as part of the global community to reduce your waste this year, and to make the Earth happier for yourself and others—to consume less and live more?

From Green American Magazine Issue