When climate change is your professional field, what does that mean for choices in your personal life?
As a staff we at Climate Interactive have been discussing this question lately, inspired by a recent research paper on the relationships between a scientist’s carbon footprint and his or her perceived credibility on climate change. Our team is spread out between city dwellers and rural residents. Some of us are recently out of school, living in rented apartments, while others of us own homes and are raising kids. Not surprisingly, our efforts to reduce our own environmental impact involve very different strategies, depending on the circumstances. But we discovered that, team-wide, we are all experimenting, learning, and generally having fun with the challenge of living with a smaller footprint. We do it both to ‘walk the talk’ and because it feels good to do our own part in the global challenge.
Over the next few months, we’d like to share some examples from across the team, in solidarity with the millions worldwide who are also on a path to live their lives with the climate in mind.
Solar panels aren’t viable at our home, so we opted instead to sign up for Solarize Hanover. That’s a program that seamlessly switches to a solar source for our grid when it becomes available. We also improved our home’s energy efficiency by replacing all of our windows and improving the insulation. And my sons tell me I have become that crazy lady around the Upper Valley on a crusade to stop people from leaving their cars running idly. I’m trying to get signs put up in key waiting places, like at school, as reminders with explanations. I also refuse to take a disposable bag at the market. If I forget my green bag, I just balance what I’ve got.
My friends are always asking what we can all do. Besides the obvious little things, I respond that our most important action is to use our voice and our vote to make real change in policies and behavior.
-Lori Siegel, Senior Modeler
My husband and I rent an apartment, so we don’t have the option to add solar panels or to make energy efficiency improvements. But we live without a car and rarely buy anything new – most of our furniture and clothing was bought from a thrift store or yard sales. We don’t use paper napkins or paper towels, but instead rely on cloth napkins, rags, and grocery bags. We don’t buy Ziploc bags or Kleenex or anything else that’s disposable, so we have very little trash. We only eat meat once a week or less, and no food gets wasted – we even make vegetable broth out of things like onion skins and carrot stems. Our clothes are hung up to dry rather than put into a dryer. We’re also very particular about the chemicals that we use around the house and on our bodies. We rely mostly on vinegar and baking soda for cleaning and personal hygiene. And we save water by showering together – except for our pet hedgehog, who takes baths in a mixing bowl!
I used to be shy about telling my friends about all this, until I realized that people are curious and interested to hear about what they can do. Everyone wants to be able to say that they’re doing their part.
-Shanna Edberg, Project Associate