If you’ve made it to our website, there’s a good chance you’re concerned about climate change. We are too. From making the first recycled sunglasses, to donating 1% for the climate, reducing emissions is as important to us as protecting your eyeballs. But climate change is like a giant snowball rolling down a hill—it’s too big to stop it entirely. What does climate activism even mean at a time like this? Basically, it’s about doing your best to reduce your carbon footprint and encouraging everyone from your grandpa to local politicians to do the same.
Fossil fuels, agriculture, and deforestation have led pollutants like methane and CO2 to become trapped in the earth’s atmosphere. These greenhouse gases don’t just cause warming, though the average global temperature is up 1.8% since the late 1800s. There’s also severe weather. Wildfires in California, hurricanes in Florida and ice in Texas. There’s less biodiversity, but more insects outdoorsy humans hate, like mosquitoes and ticks. There are more human heat related deaths and less icy homelands for Antarctic walruses. According to the National Climate Assessment, human influences are the leading cause of all this.
Here’s How to Take Action.
About 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US come from personal home energy use (PNAS.) Most homes’ heat is powered by a gas furnace, which isn’t energy efficient. If you have the means, weatherize your space so it’s draft free. If you have time and funds, make your home carbon free by changing your power source to solar or a heat pump. And if you can’t get to zero carbon yet, look for the government’s Energy Star label on appliances (products with this label meet a higher standard for energy efficiency than the federal minimum.) Lastly, when you head out for your weekend backpacking trip, turn off the heat.
On the Road
We know from the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic that staying at home is a pretty darn impactful way to reduce carbon emissions. We also know Sunski wearers are way too adventurous to stay in. Don’t hold back on your adventures, just make sure more of them start on public transit, on a bike, or in the carpool lane in an electric car.
According to the EPA, transportation makes up 29% of greenhouse gas emissions, the largest share. Next time you head out of the house, take a bike, a skateboard or your Heelys. Hop on the local bus and read a good book on the way to work, even if it takes 10 minutes longer than driving. If you have to fly, try to reduce the number of takeoffs and landings by going nonstop direct. And if you’re in the market for a new car, seriously consider making it an electric one. Nowadays, they’re often as affordable, convenient, and adventure friendly as gas powered cars.
At the Dinner Table
Globally, livestock production generates 15% of greenhouse gas emissions (FAO), much it from cattle. We know it’s hard to hear for those who love their omnivore diet, but the most direct way to reduce your emissions from the kitchen is to eat fewer animal products. A clever way to do this without going full cold turkey (or…no-turkey) is to be “flexitarian.” As the name implies, a flexitarian diet is flexible. You strive to eat mostly plant based foods, but you allow animal products in moderation.
After your (hopefully) meatless meals, compost your food scraps. Better yet, try not to have any scraps at all. According to the USDA, food waste in the US is estimated to be 30-40 percent of the food supply—a huge loss considering how much land and energy is used to create food.
In the Closet
You can reduce your carbon footprint by simply buying less new things. From sourcing materials, to manufacturing to transportation, every stage of production leaves a trail of emissions. Often, new products come surrounded by plastic packaging, which ends up in landfills. This is where the “reduce” part of the 3 R’s comes in. Try to repair your broken gear before chucking it. If you need something, see if you can find it used, or made from recycled materials. If that doesn’t work, buy your stuff from companies who strive to be sustainable.
Not to humble brag, but Sunski is a pretty good example of this. We invented recycled sunglasses: our Superlight Frames are made of recycled plastic polymer intercepted from landfills. We’ve eliminated single-use plastic and glue from our packaging. We want you to be able to keep your sunglasses out of the landfill for as long as possible. That’s where our replacement lenses come in.
At the Polls
We can’t win the fight against climate change without action at a policy level. You can help by staying informed with your local politics. Vote for officials who are investing in climate friendly policies, like public transportation and bike lanes. Lobby your legislators and encourage them to support zoning changes that encourage densification and electrification!
If you’re able, donate to an environmental organization whose mission speaks to you. Maybe some of the commitments we’ve made here at Sunski will serve as inspiration. We’re a lifelong member of 1% for the Planet, where we’ve donated over $150,000 to date to orgs like Save the Waves, the Conservation Alliance and Adventure Scientists. We’re also a member of Climate Neutral, where we’ve pledged to fully understand our carbon footprint and offset our entire organization with carbon credits.
Climate Activism in Practice
Taking action for climate change requires big changes from the most powerful institutions and people in our society, and small efforts from everyday people. Here’s what to do today.
- Speak up to lawmakers
- Donate to environmental organizations
- Bike, walk, use public transit, or get an electric car
- Reduce food and water waste
- Eat less meat
- Reduce water use, heat use, and plastic use
- Keep on loving good ol’ Mama Earth