We hear the question, “What can I do about climate change?”
Our solution: Make It Personal.
Two-thirds of Americans think that citizens should do more to address global warming. And yet, most of us don’t really know what to do. We recycle, carry our grocery bags. But turns out that’s not enough.
Rare recently conducted research to identify the individual behaviors people can adopt with the greatest potential for climate impact. And it turns out, there are 7 things that many Americans might find surprisingly within reach. If each of these changes was adopted by even 10% of Americans, it would reduce the gap to America’s emissions targets by over 75%.
While we still need larger changes from corporations and governments, it’s pretty empowering to know we do not have to wait. We can each find at least one way to start making positive changes now. When it comes to our environment, we are all in this together.
Behaviors with the Largest Climate Impact
Adopt a Plant-rich Diet
2/3 of Americans have already started eating less meat. This is great news because a plant-rich diet is healthier and at least 50x less carbon intensive.
Carbon offsets are investments in projects that take carbon out of the atmosphere—like planting trees or capturing emissions. It cost 7x less to offset the typical American footprint than most people expect.
Moving to renewable energy sources is one of the most important actions you can take to reduce your impact—whether you buy renewable energy from your provider, or purchase rooftop solar. While the cost of solar panels has dropped 70% since 2010, 97% of Americans over-estimate the cost.
Are you one of the 43% of American adults who says it would be “easy” or “very easy” to reduce your food waste? Turns out reducing your food waste has a big impact on both the resources used to get the food to your table and in the methane produced when it goes to the landfill.
More U.S. commuters get to work without a car than in the past. But for the majority who do still rely on a car, driving an electric vehicle offers a lower 5-year total cost of ownership and drives down carbon emissions.
For frequent business travelers, using online meeting technologies more effectively can mean more days home with family and friends as well as a much lower carbon footprint. Consider taking even one less flight a year to have a significant impact.
One of the most powerful actions we can take is getting involved socially or politically. Just talking about these changes with your friends, colleagues and family is one of the biggest contributing factors to shifting society’s thinking on a new norm (reducing your carbon impact). Two-thirds of Americans think that citizens should do more to address global warming. But most of us don’t talk about it. With Make It Personal, we aim to change that.
If publishing a list of climate-friendly changes worked to change people’s behavior, humans would have solved this by now. Rare’s decades of work to inspire individual and community change have taught us a good deal about human nature. We make changes when we see our friends and neighbors making them. And, we make changes when they’re easier to make. Rare is developing three channels of programming to turn our theory of change into a reality for millions of Americans.
Three channels with one common thread: trust
Where you manage your money.
Where you work and earn money.
The community where you have personal bonds.
What can you do? Download the Make It Personal overview.
Are you one of the majority of Americans that wants to take personal action on climate change? Download a two-page overview and get started on taking action today.
Make It Personal was sparked by our research that found voluntary actions at the individual and household level can significantly contribute to overall U.S. emissions reductions — even in the absence of policy changes.
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Hawken, P. (2017). Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. New York: Penguin Books.
Solar Energy Industry Association (2019). Solar Industry Research Data. Available here.
Sunrun (2012). New Data Shows 97% of Americans Overestimate the Cost of Installing Solar Panels. Available here.
Neff R. A., Spiker M. L., Truant P. L. (2015). Wasted Food: U.S. Consumers’ Reported Awareness, Attitudes, and Behaviors. PloS one, 10(6), e0127881
Mccarthy, J. (2018). More U.S. Commuters Get to Work Without Cars Than in Past. Available here.
Shahan, Z. (2019). Tesla Model 3 vs. Toyota Camry — 5 Year Cost of Ownership Comparisons. Available here.
Rare and California Environmental Associates. (2019). Changing Behaviors to Reduce U.S. Emissions: Seven Pathways to Achieve Climate Impact. Arlington, VA: Rare.
Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Bergquist, P., Ballew, M., Goldberg, M., & Gustafson, A. (2019). Climate change in the American mind: November 2019. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.