In light of the growing threat of climate change, it can be easy to feel resigned and to give up on the possibility of seeing the changes necessary to reverse the damage done to the environment. Policy changes are typically slow, and that can be discouraging. Likewise, there’s only so much a single person can do to change things. However, there is a growing contingent of people who are taking action to improve the world in small ways, and those numbers add up. By making certain changes to your lifestyle, you can reduce your negative impact on the environment, and the world benefits tremendously when more people embrace these methods. Here’s what you need to know.

Invest In Clean Energy

It’s no surprise at this point that carbon dioxide emissions are the driving force of climate change. There are numerous sources of CO2 pollution that contribute to the harmful greenhouse effect that causes climate change, and finding ways to reduce those emissions form the crux of the current battle against global warming. In the vast majority of cases, excessive CO2 is produced as a byproduct of the existing energy infrastructure. For example, the combustion engines that power the majority of cars produce CO2, and the high saturation of cars on the roads around the globe are a major part of the problem. Likewise, the production of electricity produces carbon emissions at an alarming rate. Switching to a clean energy source is therefore a necessity, and this is a lesson that is catching on among businesses and consumers, albeit slowly.

Solar energy is the frontrunner of the clean energy race, primarily because of its relatively low costs. Wind turbines are substantially more efficient, but these behemoths see more use in the municipal sector due to their exorbitant costs and a lack of space. On the other hand, solar panels are much smaller and, therefore, much cheaper to install. Solar panels also offer a much more cost effective monthly power bill, which serves as an effective incentive for the switch for those who aren’t motivated by the positive effect solar energy has on the environment. Solar power batteries are fairly costly, and they are a necessity for nighttime use. However, even the best solar panels are fairly easy to fit into your budget and can drastically reduce your carbon footprint.

Like solar power, electric cars offer a more eco friendly alternative to the use of fossil fuels, but electric cars haven’t progressed as well as solar panel technology. Hybrid cars offer a “best of both worlds” design philosophy that can allow consumers to reduce the impact that their car has on the environment without outright eliminating the carbon footprint of a driver, but pure electric cars are currently not quite feasible for the average driver.

Reduce Waste

In addition to greenhouse gas pollution, human civilization has a problem with littering. Plastic is the primary offender, because it isn’t biodegradable and can last for up to 1,000 years before decomposing. This means that plastic waste is simply going to take up space for a millennium, The problem is truly alarming when you consider how much of modern commerce implements waste directly into the retail process. Disposable plastic wrapping is everywhere, and that means that plastic waste is being generated en masse as a result of profoundly unfortunate design. The Zero Waste movement seeks to remedy this problem by simply refusing to accept waste products and thereby disincentivizing their production.

The basic premise of the Zero Waste lifestyle is taking certain steps to avoid buying products that result in waste. Again, plastic wrappers are the primary focus, but even disposable paper products are discouraged. Instead, Zero Waste adherents prefer to use reusable bags at the grocery store and buy whole, fresh products.

Disposable packaging isn’t the only form of waste that the system encourages, however. Food waste is also a major problem, and it is enabled in two distinct ways. For starters, retailers will almost always choose to trash food items that are about to go bad instead of donating them to people in need. This even extends to denying these products as a potential privilege for employees. Furthermore, expiration and best by dates are extremely conservative and often encourage throwing food items out well before they actually go bad. Eggs in particular are known to last for months after their expiration date, in many cases. Food production as it stands is a contributing factor to CO2 emissions, as well, so each instance of food waste also directly contributes to pollution.

While it can seem like your actions as an individual don’t carry any weight, that can change quickly when many individuals choose to take these steps. This outline offers you, and those around you, with a few simple lifestyle changes that can have a major impact when they are widely adopted.