Care about climate change? Here’s how you can help the planet while on lockdown

The coronavirus has upended life as we know it: many of us are grieving, worrying about our loved ones getting sick, and anxious about the future.

For the moment, social isolation measures mean life is almost completely lived out online. Here, The Independent offers some ideas for tackling climate change and protecting the planet that you can do from the safety of home.

CAMPAIGN

Activists have cancelled physical strikes and meet-ups due to the lockdown but the climate movement hasn’t gone away. Major events are being planned around the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this month where the theme is climate action.

Here’s some ways to get involved:

22 April: Earth Day is going digital for the first time in its history and you can join it here.

17 April at 11am (PST): Lifelong activist, actress Jane Fonda continues with her Fire Drill Fridays online. This week, she’s having a “fireside chat” with Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief and architect of the Paris Climate Agreement.

24 April: Fridays For Future are holding a 24-hour livestream on YouTube featuring activists from around the world. The movement, started by Greta Thunberg in 2018, had planned a global school strike that day but altered course due to Covid-19.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has suggestions for letters to send on varying issues. This one relates to the coronavirus pandemic and making sure frontline workers are protected and here, you can voice your opinion on a Trump administration proposal to restrict the use of scientific studies at the Environmental Protection Agency.

CROWDSOURCE

Get together (while you’re staying safely apart) with an online crowdsourcing project.

Volunteer for people-powered research at Zooniverse which has projects across a variety of areas including climate. Count and track giraffes in northern Kenya; digitise records from research vessels to inform future ecology and conservation studies; or help protect marine ecosystems by tracking Giant Kelp forests around the globe.

The Scistarter website, with its motto “science we can do together” has a handy search tool that lets you find its projects that are online only. Track weather events, help ocean scientists better understand the experiences of microscopic marine microbes or put your unused computing power to science projects are all ideas on the list.

MIT’s Climate CoLab aims to harness the collective intelligence of people around the world to create proposals to help achieve global climate change goals.

TAKE ACTION

The coronavirus has sparked a boom of pet adoptions and fostering but you can virtually adopt an animal here with International Animal Rescue.

Connect with friends and family with free online greeting cards from the World Wildlife Fund.

Even though you’re staying home, you can plan ahead with ideas to go “zero waste” – a helpful list is compiled here on everything from reducing food waste to clothes swaps.

Some of us are already socialising with friends and family, and working from home using Zoom, Skype and other video platforms but they also play an important role in a more climate-friendly lifestyle. The Verge has some advice on how to look better doing it and so does climate scientist Professor Katharine Hayhoe who has spent the past few years transitioning many of her talks into the virtual realm. (While you’re at it, design your workspace around natural light, in support of Daylight Hour on June 19.)

Do a home energy audit. A quick walk-though of your home can spot the ways energy is being lost and how to save it. There are ideas here. Try unplugging your devices – around a quarter of residential energy use goes that way. Inactive devices translates to approximately $19 billion a year, about $165 per household in the US on average, worth of electricity, according to one study.

Laundry doesn’t stop even when the world shuts down. Save those greenhouse-gas emissions from heating water by washing loads in cold water which is just as effective, according to the New York Times. Hang-dry those clothes, too, if you can. If all Americans line-dried for even six months of the year, it would save 3.3% of the country’s total residential output of carbon dioxide, experts told the paper.

And while you’re raking through clothes, look at what’s in your closet. Dr Jennifer Baumgartner says most people wear only 20% of their wardrobe, 80% of the time. Americans, on average, toss 80lb of clothing a year — so figure out what you need and fill bags for recycling for when the lockdown is over.

Think about how much meat you’re eating. Cattle and sheep are a major source of the greenhouse gas methane. Try out vegan (or baby steps with vegetarian) recipes. There’s some ideas to get you started, here and here.

LEARN

The National Emergency Library, a collection of nearly 1.5 million digitised publications, has been made public. A quick search on climate brings up more than 3,000 titles. Happy reading!

Figure out your household carbon emissions and how to cut them with an online “carbon calculator.” Go a step further and discover your carbon footprint, from shopping, travel and food here.

Sunrise Movement is offering the opportunity to get schooled in climate issues from the Green New Deal and coronavirus to other ways on to face the crisis head on.

Greenpeace also has webinars in its “Take Action Tuesdays” program which connects people and discusses ways to take action collectively and remotely.

Whether you’re a little kid (or a big one) there are multiple resources for learning the climate change basics and inspiring a love of nature, even from the safety of home. This is handy refresher, this covers some basics for you and for children and here’s some ways to get kids inspired at home.

Listen in on climate news and views with a range of podcasts. KUOW’s Ashley Ahearn travels the US to share stories about people’s personal choices in the face of environmental change with Terrestrial.

Climate History, by Dr Dagomar Degroot, associate professor of environmental history at Georgetown University, and Emma Moesswilde, a PhD student in environmental and climate history at the school, looks back at how we got here and what we need to do now.

For a feminist take, former Irish President Mary Robinson and comedian Maeve Higgins share women’s roles in climate justice on Mothers of Invention.

Ol and Dave, of Sustainababble, aim to cut through confusing eco-noise with their take on how to save the planet.

MIT’s TILclimate podcast explains the science, technologies, and policies behind climate change to arm listeners with the essential information.

Documentaries on a multitude of climate issues can be found here and here. And if you missed Al Gore’s 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth”, the sequel was made a few years back.

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