Sign with the planet earth reading "one planet" for Earth Hour
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For the purpose of Earth Hour, I’m just gonna go straight to the point because by now, we’ve all heard about it, or, at least, should have heard about it: climate change. Yes, it’s real, and yes, it’s affecting all of us, no matter what part of the globe we come from. 

What is a carbon footprint?

According to WHO, “a carbon footprint is a measure of the impact your activities have on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced through the burning of fossil fuels and is expressed as a weight of CO2 emissions produced in tonnes”. 

Carbon capture plant
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What are the main effects of the carbon footprint?

Since greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of global warming (and therefore climate change), it is critical to comprehend how carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions impact the atmosphere. 

Extreme weather conditions such as tropical storms, wildfires, prolonged droughts, and heat waves are caused by global warming. While an increase in carbon in the air will benefit plants and crops in certain ways, crop yields can be harmed if the environment changes the lands and induces drought or other weather conditions that crops and plants cannot withstand. 

Forest fire
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Carbon emissions have a significant effect on humans, causing a rise in respiratory disease due to smog and air pollution. Not to mention that if carbon emissions wipe out many animal species, kill crop yields, and destroy soil, humans will be affected as well.

How can we take action?

Of course, no one can argue that to combat the broad aspects of carbon emissions, everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to get involved. Starting from the average person all the way to the private sector and the government, everyone needs to take some form of action one way or another for the well-being of the planet and, in turn, the well-being of ourselves. 

Neon sign in capital letters reading "FOR THE WORLD" for Earth Hour
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However, it seems that, although we can feel the effects of climate change and carbon emissions, there still aren’t many who wish to recognize them, let alone take accountability for them. And that is one of our biggest problems. We know the problem, we know the signs of the problem, now it’s time to focus on the solutions.  

In this article, we will focus on individual actions we can take from the comfort of our phones to raise more awareness on the issues of carbon emissions. The more awareness is increased, the more people will start putting more thought into their day-to-day actions that affect the world. 

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1. Educate yourself

First and foremost, research as much as possible on the issue. Whether you want to go beyond yourself and become a walking Wikipedia for climate change or just want to have a general overview of it, make sure you understand the facts. I dare you right now to click on a random blue word from this really long sentence. Read the whole page, and then come back to this article ready and refreshed for the following tips and tricks. 

Neon sign reading "Change" for Earth Hour
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2. Practice what you preach

Change has to start within you. To educate others, you need to lead by example and be a role model for the people around you. They need to look at you and immediately think, “Oh, they really know what they’re talking about!”. Start acting today towards that goal, and others will follow in your footsteps. 

People at the dinner table
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3. Bring it up at the dinner table

Oh, you know what I’m talking about! The good old dinner table, always the best place and time for risky conversations with your family. Strike a conversation about carbon emissions one day and see how it goes.

You may be surprised how well a side salad of climate action goes with that steak. In all seriousness, it’s great to want to raise awareness to the people closest to you, so don’t hesitate to pass them your wisdom instead of the salt next time. 

People hanging out in the park
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4. Tell your friends about it

So, if you’ve followed the steps in order, by now, you’ve educated yourself and probably your family, which is a fantastic start! Now it’s time to delve further into that contact list by sharing your knowledge with your friends. You have no idea what a spectacular debate you could create in the group chat with only one meme. Start with a meme, end up with a group of people ready to take action—my kind of Friday night.

Person taking a picture for their Instagram story
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5. Post on social media

If you’ve made it this far into the article, you are most likely eager for more. Here’s another helpful tip: start posting about the causes dearest to you on social media. It could be anything from sharing an interesting post about energy consumption on your Instagram story to actually making your own content about the carbon footprint for the whole world to see. 

The best thing about it is that you could make an impact on hundreds or even thousands of people. The possibilities are endless in the realm of social media, and they are waiting for you. 

Child writing on a piece of paper
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6. Engage with NGOs

Another beneficial way to contribute to climate action is by actively participating in events organized by local or global NGOs. AIESEC is also a great place to start with. We are a youth-run organization, which sees sustainability as a priority. We create and deliver several environmental projects and sustainable initiatives where international volunteers can gain leadership experience while positively impacting the planet.

"You got this" written with chalk on the asphalt for Earth Hour
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7. Motivate yourself  and others

Sometimes, people might need a little push to get to work. Motivation is often spontaneous, but it can be sustained if you have a clear goal in mind. Once you find a clear motivation within you to take action, you can start motivating others to be aware of their contribution to saving the environment. 

How? It could be by congratulating your peers whenever you see them actively take action on reducing their carbon footprint. It could be by having an empathetic approach and showing them an emotional video such as this one about climate change. After equipping them with the proper knowledge, help them process it by giving practical support, such as group discussions and activities. These will make environmental actions more fun, easier, and enjoyable.

Group of people looking into the distance in a forest
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8. Remember – Every. Action. Counts.

I know we may sometimes get swept away by the sudden realization (which most of us have at 3AM during an existential crisis) that we are only a spec of dust floating out in the universe. You know the “life is meaningless, so why should I care ‘cause in the grand scheme of things it wouldn’t matter” type of crisis. 

However, don’t let these thoughts fool you. In the grand scheme of things, when it comes to climate change – everything matters. Because climate change isn’t some sort of abstract thought or theory that exists only on paper. Climate change is happening all around us, and it’s up to all of us, collectively, to fight it. 

Neon sign reading in capital letters "DO SOMETHING GREAT" for Earth Hour
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So go share that article on your Facebook profile about Earth Hour that your old relatives will probably consider a hoax! Go write to your mayor about actions that should be taken in your local community! Go to that corner store to recycle those pesky plastic bottles!

No matter how small you think your step is, I promise you that it WILL matter in the grand scheme of things. You will feel much more fulfilled with yourself once you realize this. You have nothing to lose, and neither does our planet. Just go out there and make a change! 

Text for earth hour on a screen reading "Turn off all unused power points and lights in your house today"
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Speaking of taking action right away, yesterday was Earth Hour! Earth Hour is an initiative to encourage individuals, businesses, and governments worldwide to take accountability for their ecological footprint and engage in dialogue and resource exchange that provides real solutions to our environmental challenges. Participation in Earth Hour symbolizes a commitment to change beyond the hour. 

What would you do to take action in reducing your carbon footprint and encourage others to do the same?

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