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What are the top things individuals are doing to fight climate change?

What are the top things individuals are doing to fight climate change? Posted on July 27, 2019Leave a comment
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Climate Change Action Infographic
When UniGuide ran its Summer Sweepstakes Giveaway this month, I included a one-question survey that participants had the option to answer as an additional entry for a chance to win a gift card. While this is not a formal market research study, enough people answered the question that I believe the results are significant. In all, 582 individuals answered the survey question. (The app I used to run the sweepstakes takes a number of measures to make sure that people don’t game the system, including verifying IP address, and to ensure that all respondents are unique.)

While UniGuide visitors and followers on social media most likely skew towards being environmentally conscious, the survey was also promoted to general news outlets. In addition, participants were able to share the sweepstakes entry and survey with people in their own personal networks.

Here’s a breakdown of the participants:

Respondents: 582
Gender:

  • Women: ~75%
  • Men: ~25%

Geography:

  • U.S. – 80%
  • Canada – 12%

The remaining participants were from:

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom

Those who participated in the survey were able to select multiple options for the actions they were taking to personally fight climate change.

Here are the actions the respondents say they are currently doing to help fight climate change and the percent of those who say they’re taking that specific action:

  • Saving energy and boosting energy efficiency around my home – 22%
  • Driving less – 16%
  • Buying used clothes and/or eco-friendly clothing (not buying fast fashion) – 15%
  • Planting trees – 12%
  • Flying less – 8%
  • Eating a plantbased diet – 6%
  • Something else not listed here – 6%
  • Donating to environmental organizations – 5%
  • Donating to political groups or candidates who are pro-environment – 4%
  • Contributing to organizations that offset my carbon emissions – 3%
  • Not sure what to do – 2%
  • Not doing anything right now – 1%

Saving energy at home was the action that more survey respondents are doing than any other to fight climate change. This makes sense because there’s a monetary incentive with this action, on top of the benefit of helping to fight climate change.

Putting a Price on Carbon

In my personal opinion, one of the best ways that we can fight climate change is to put a real cost on carbon emissions. Frankly, we’ve been letting too many people dump too much garbage into the atmosphere without paying the price to do so. It’s really not that complicated. If you pay to have your garbage, recycling, and compost taken away every week, your neighbor should too (whether they’re an individual, a corporation, or a country.) Going forward, we need to put an accurate price on carbon emissions similar to the way we put a value on global currencies.

Used and Eco-Friendly Clothing

One response that was in the top three most common things people are doing, which surprised me, was buying used or eco-friendly clothes – No. 3 on the list. While that’s definitely in line with the types of visitors who would come to UniGuide, I was still surprised that that action was higher on the list than, say, eating a vegan diet.

Shouldn’t there be more vegans by now?

There’s a direct personal benefit from both saving energy (and therefore money) and buying clothes but eating a plantbased diet has so many personal health benefits. I had assumed more participants who would be vegan. But that survey result may be due to how the question was worded. Many people who are eating a “plantbased diet” are not fully vegan. I did think of using “eating a plantbased diet” as an option vs. “vegan,” but I thought “plantbased” wouldn’t really get to the heart of a concrete action to fight climate change. Plantbased is good, but 100% vegan is even better.

It’s estimated that from 2-5 percent of people in the U.S. are fully vegan, so 6 percent of survey respondents saying they’re eating vegan to help fight climate change makes sense. (Sigh, I just wish it was more…)

Let’s Do More

The most heartening aspect of the survey was that only 1 percent of those who responded said they’re doing nothing. While there are plenty of discussions about the optimal way to fight climate change, the ramifications of it – which are happening as we speak – are so dire, that we need to fire on all cylinders (sorry to use a fossil fuel analogy) to fight it. And while our motivations for doing a lot of things are driven by self-interest (including myself here), I do wholeheartedly believe that people want to make a difference to help the greater good. It’s just a matter of all of us helping each other to do better.

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