Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community

University of Colorado Boulder

Top Actions

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Choose whatever actions you like. You might consider setting a long-term challenge for yourself, like concentrating on two major actions per year. When choosing, keep in mind the power of "social norms".

Vote, speak up

Protestors at the March for Science in front of the capital building in Washington D.C.

Letting your voice be heard is probably the single most important action you can take to address climate change.

Let your elected representatives know your views on climate change – and ask them to act accordingly. Our representatives get lots of angry calls from voters against climate change policy, but few supporting calls. Yet research shows that the vast majority of Americans want action on climate change. Find contact information for your Congressional Representative and Senators.


Use less energy

Small girl hanging her clothes to dry

Do the basics: Wash clothes in cold water and hang to dry, switch bulbs out to CFL or LED, turn your temperature up in summer and down in winter, use a Kill A Watt® meter to find the electronic and other power hogs in your house and then use power strips to really switch them off.

Next steps: Get a home energy audit. They can help with advice, including replacing old inefficient appliances like that old refrigerator (Energy Star calculator). That'll save money and emissions.


Choose cleaner energy

Man installing a solar panel on a house roof

Ideally, you'll reduce your energy consumption before switching to cleaner, renewable sources like solar or wind (if available in your area). But going straight to renewables is still a great option.

Install solar panels, or buy renewable energy from your utility if they offer it. If they don’t, ask why not.


Travel green

Closeup of a young man's shoes while he walks his bike in the city

Transportation accounts for over one-quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (see our Science page).

Commute via foot, bicycle, mass transit, or an efficient electric, hybrid or gas vehicle. Combine vacations to reduce flying. Two people flying round-trip between Chicago and Las Vegas put the equivalent of about 4,600 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere (Berkeley Cool Climate Calculator documentation).


Buy less, buy better

Young woman looks at a price tag while shopping for coats at a thrift store

Most people don’t realize how much greenhouse gases are produced in the manufacture and distribution of “stuff”. For example, just manufacturing a new laptop computer generates about 200 times its weight in greenhouse gases (data from Apple).

So when you decide to buy, choose quality products that will last - and take care of them.


Eat mostly plants

Close up of a tray of vegetables held by a woman gardener

Meat, especially beef, has a large carbon footprint. A quarter-pound burger results in as much greenhouse gases as driving a new car about 8 miles (calculation details).

Try going meat-free a few days a week. If you choose to eat meat, go with smaller portion sizes. Better for you and the planet.