Resolve to reduce your climate change impact in the new year by taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint – and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.
The climate crisis impacts health in many ways, from worsening asthma due to poor air quality, to stress and anxiety caused by more frequent extreme weather events. While systemic changes like renewable clean energy and stronger environmental policies are key to getting climate change-causing emissions to zero, personal and collective actions put us all on a more sustainable and healthier path.
Our Institute clinicians and scientists share some of the small changes they’ve made in their own lives that have a positive impact on climate change and health.
With 3 young kids, my family acquires a lot of stuff. Production, shipping, and disposal of consumer goods like clothing and plastic toys contribute to climate change, so instead of buying new I “shop” my local Buy Nothing social media pages to see if anyone is ready to pass on the item that I need. Not only have I found (free!) gently used items, I’ve kept lots of things that we no longer need out of the landfill by sharing them with my community.
– Sarah Evans, PhD MPH, Assistant Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health
Give the gift of time together but if you are gifting presents, wrapped in recycled paper like a newspaper.
– Maida Galvez, MD, MPH, Professor, Departments of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, and Pediatrics
A lot of appliances use power even when turned off (televisions, desktop computers, printers, scanners etc.). I use a power strip so I can easily flip the strip off to lower electricity use.
– Robert Wright, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Environmental Medicine and Public Health and Co-Director, Institute for Exposomic Research
My family tries to use seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients in our meals as much as possible. Shortening the distance that a bite of food travels between the farm and fork saves transportation and refrigeration energy. And fresher food usually tastes better too.
– Perry Sheffield, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health, and Pediatrics
Driving less and walking more can be beneficial for the environment and for your physical health. Walking or biking instead of driving can help to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that contribute to air pollution and climate change. In addition, walking or biking can provide numerous health benefits, including increased cardiovascular fitness, improved mental health, and weight loss. By choosing to walk or bike whenever possible instead of drive, we do our part to help the environment and improve our own physical health at the same time.
– Maayan Yitshak-Sade, PhD, Assistant Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health
To keep up with loved ones across the country, I do sometimes fly. I try to only book non-stop flights which produce fewer emissions than stopover ones.
– Terry Thompson, DHA, MPH Assistant Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health
I live in an apartment and don’t have a garden so found that my local farmer’s market collects food scraps for composting. Many products come in resealable bags that I reuse for my compost. I keep the bags on the refrigerator door until composting day once a week.
– Luz Claudio, PhD, Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health
Look for an induction stove to get away from gas
Gas stoves rely on fossil fuels but also contribute to nitrogen dioxide air pollution inside the home, which is bad for lungs. When my father was looking for a new stove recently, I helped him choose a new electric induction range (new purchases will be eligible for tax rebates up to $840 starting in 2023). If you aren’t ready to replace your stove, consider getting a portable single induction burner which you can plug into any kitchen outlet, and when you are cooking, regardless of the method, make sure to ventilate.
– Allan Just, PhD, Associate Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health