closet environmentalist

Closet environmentalist: How you can help.

With the alarming rise in greenhouse gases, a new wave of citizens are taking up arms to combat climate change. These people aren’t the usual “crunchy” men and women who drink out of mason jars and carry their reusable bags like a fashion statement. They’re children, teens, mothers and fathers. They’re people who haven’t paid much attention to their carbon footprint, and are now wondering what they can do to put the brakes on climate change.

Many of them are also not in a great position to begin a new career in activism. If your parents or spouse are climate change deniers, attempting to change your way of life to something more ecofriendly is very difficult. Even the smallest changes are looked at with narrow eyed suspicion, leaving these people in an awkward position—save the planet, or save the relationship.

Luckily, if you want to help the environment but have to do it in secret, there are still things you can do without anyone knowing about it. Yes, ever.

Turn the lights off

If anyone asks why you’re suddenly the light police, flipping off lights behind virtually everyone in the whole house, you can simply inform them you’re concerned about the electric bill. Really, there’s usually at least one light police in the house anyway, and they’ll just be glad you’re helping them out. There’s no reason for every single light in the house to be flipped on anyway, apart from sheer laziness, so keep the lights flipped off.

Do more chores

Trust me, no one is going to question your sudden devotedness to making sure the laundry is done and the dishes are sparkling. Every time you use a rag to wipe down the counters, or line dry laundry, or heck just make sure the laundry being done isn’t left to mold and be rewashed 20 times before it finally makes the dryer, you’re cutting down on a huge amount of co2.

If you can, handle the cooking and the packaging of leftovers as well. By doing the cooking you can control what goes into the trash during prep, and how much single plastic is used for the leftovers. If there’s a particularly common dessert or food item that uses plastic in your home every day, consider learning how to make it and keep it available in the home, plastic free.

If you’re the one doing chores, you should pretty much be free to do things how you want, and if that cuts down on waste and co2 emissions, so much the better.

Eat leftovers

In some households, you can pretty much live off of food waste alone. By choosing to pack left over spaghetti for lunch instead of going out, choosing what you eat for breakfast based on what is most likely to go uneaten in the fridge, and planning meals (if you’re in charge of cooking) based on what needs to be used up, not only will you save $$$ but you’ll be reducing waste and thus co2.

Become an avid gardener

Even those who don’t believe in climate change grow gardens. It is a perfectly normal and respectable thing to do. Grow foods that you like to eat, and make sure that everything gets eaten, even if you have to give vegetables away to make sure that all the food you grow is efficiently used.

If you can start a compost heap to support your garden with, even better. A properly formed compost heap will not only reduce your garbage by a huge amount, it’ll also help sequester co2 in the soil, preventing tons of co2 from entering the atmosphere.

On top of this, the veggies you grow didn’t have to be shipped for thousands of miles or kept warm in a greenhouse to get to you. This can take thousands of pounds of co2 out of the air on its own.

Become active

Car use accounts for a significant amount of co2, so if you can walk, bike, use public transit, or car pool where you need to go, it cuts down on your carbon footprint. This is definitely not possible for everyone, especially if you have a baby to tote around or your parents frown on you going places by yourself.

If you can at all replace even one normal car ride with a bike, walk, or bus ride however, it will make a difference.

Develop a taste for junk store shopping

“I’d love to spend hundreds of dollars on three back to school outfits,” said no parent ever. Second hand stores such as goodwill are packed with high end clothing for a fraction of the cost, and it has an added benefit—second hand clothing doesn’t have the same carbon footprint new clothing does, and keeps that piece out of landfills.

Buy everything you can second hand, or utilize groups such as Buy Nothing. If anyone asks why you’re doing this, just point out the price tag.


Your e-mails are usually private, and if you can’t send them anonymously at home, you can write snail mail letters and drop them off privately with no return address. Writing is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to effect change, because you’re letting people who have the power to make big changes know what you think.

Write your congress men and tell them you want something done about climate change. Write celebrities you admire. E-mail authors. Write companies. Write to anyone and everyone and speak out. No one has to know what you said, and it could make a difference.

Not everyone can be that guy waving signs at a demonstration, and some of us can’t even bring up climate change in our own families. We can still make a difference however, by working on the parts of our lives we can control.

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