How many of you are tired of hearing the term “climate change” or, more specifically, “global warming?” If so, you’ve come to the right place, and I’ll lead you to some of the alternatives or actions that you can take from your home to become more eco-friendly or sustainable. I understand that many of you dread the effects of the climate crisis (wildfires, droughts, air pollution, and more) and constantly hear about it in the news. Hearing about these impacts of climate change can demotivate you from taking any action at all and simply make you consider not thinking about the crisis at all or even speaking about it. However, I would like to break this notion and suggest that there are solutions to the crisis. After all, every problem requires a strong and constructive solution. Therefore, (take a deep breath) I’ll present my five eco-friendly tips that you can integrate into your lifestyle to forge a sustainable path. 

1. Join a Conversation or Club that Advocates for the Climate 

By simply being a part of a conversation or even starting one about the crisis, you are already contributing to the solution. One of the biggest myths of our society is that we want to deliver something big or merely let the authorities handle it. However, this just doesn’t work. We have seen numerous conventions on climate change occur (such as the Conference of the Parties, UN General Assemblies, and deals negotiated with other countries) and have failed to address the most fundamental solution of “what we can do.” From my own experience, I joined a Sustainability Committee in middle school, even though I did not know what “sustainable” meant at the time. However, the club transformed me as it made me aware of the unique situations going on worldwide and at home, and it provided some key solutions. It encouraged me to share my voice and understanding on Earth Day 2019. Therefore, sharing our opinions on this matter in a conversation and listening to others’ opinions — whether they agree or disagree — can significantly help you understand more about the crisis. Furthermore, if interested, you can join a club or association that goes more in-depth about explaining the crisis and ways you can get involved. 

2. Choose Public Transport 

Taking your car or your private vehicle out might be more convenient than waiting for public transport such as buses or cabs. However, according to the World Resources Institute, “Buses and trains can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to two-thirds per passenger, per kilometre compared to private vehicles.” I’m not saying that you should entirely abandon your private vehicles but perhaps balance it out. After all, there are days when you would need the convenience. You can start by using public transport once per month, week, and subsequently once per day. It will benefit not only the planet but you as well since you are helping to keep yourself healthy and sustainable. As a side note, you also support local businesses or industries that work for public transport. 

3.) Eat Your Veggies 

This might sound cliché, but it’s more effective than you think. According to the United Nations, plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts, and lentils are more sustainable as they “use less energy, land, and water, and have lower greenhouse gas intensities than animal-based foods.”  I understand the notion that consuming meat-based products can give you more protein and energy but try to think of it in a bigger context: the amount of energy and water released just to produce one piece of meat. Furthermore, scientists are also adding that beef is becoming more dangerous as methane gets released from cows. Therefore, we must consider the alternatives, and as a matter of fact, more “vegetarian” options of meats are coming out, known as “cultured” or “synthetic” meat. Some people might be worried about this source of food coming about, but not to worry, it has been approved by several organizations, including the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). At first, you might struggle to change from a meat consumer to a vegetarian, but you can try balancing it out. Maybe once a month, make a day for just vegetarian options — or even once a week. This way, you’re keeping yourself healthy and sustainable. 

4. Explore Ecotourism 

Ecotourism is another option to invest in nature and forge a path to sustainability as it gives us direct contact with nature and its species and informs us of their evolution and the climate’s impact on them. It also educates on the land in which both humans and animals thrive and how that’s changing. I remember once travelling to Cát Tiên National Park in Southern Vietnam and seeing these amazing species like the golden-cheeked gibbon, pygmy lorris, and silvered languar that are currently endangered due to the growing constructions of palm oil factories and deforestation. However, due to conservationists' efforts at the park, their populations are slowly growing. A key benefit of these trips is that it opens your eyes to what’s going on in forests or other endangered areas. It can give you as much knowledge as any documentary or discussion, as it shows how our actions and the natural environment are linked. Plus, you are also supporting local conservationists who are investing in ways to not only protect the lives of species native to that environment but also help us ensure there can be a sustainable road ahead. 

5. Invest In Sustainable Companies and Local Organizations 

These days, there are so many companies or local stores that provide eco-friendly materials such as bamboo straws, toothbrushes, and sustainable clothes. They can all contribute to sustainability by reducing waste, which results in steadily lowering greenhouse gas emissions from plastic or unbiodegradable materials into the atmosphere. In Saigon, Vietnam alone, I have noticed many new stores are opening up to sell these products to better our environment. Additionally, right here in Kelowna, multiple farmers’ markets and zero-waste stores address the same purpose. When investing in these products, you are not only protecting the environment or benefiting those stores but also working towards a sustainable lifestyle. 

Now that my five tips have been addressed, it’s up to you all to carry out  some of these actions. Indeed, it will take time to accomplish some of these tips, but I believe that by taking small steps, larger causes can be fulfilled. We don’t need to be a scientist, lawyers, politicians, or professors to understand the nuances of this crisis, but we simply need to be ourselves and believe in what can be done. 

For more information, check out my TED Talk, called “Climate Crisis in Vietnam,” on YouTube.