The Most Important Thing You Can Do About the Climate Crisis

cape cod dunes

Many wonderful Cup of Jo readers have asked for a series on climate change, and we would love to kick off the conversation and hear your thoughts. (We will also have many more posts coming up.) First off, here’s the single most important thing you can do…

Climate change has been shown to be one of the largest threats to the global economy, national security, and, you know, the existence of humankind. It’s such a daunting topic that many of us (most of us?) often feel too overwhelmed by information or frozen with fear to talk about it — or perhaps we just don’t know what to say, so we say nothing at all.

Turns out, that’s a big part of the problem, according to climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, who directs the Texas Tech University Climate Science Center. “The most important thing any single one of us can do to fight climate change is talk about it,” she told me on the phone. Because, right now, the most urgent threat to our climate is the lack of understanding around it and our role in its future.

So, what is really happening and what do we do? And does any of it actually help or are we just doomed? On that last one at least, the answer is simple: No. While the situation is dire, hope is certainly not lost.

With Hayhoe’s help, we’ve put together a list of helpful — and actually doable — things we can take on to make a difference.

What can we do? A lot, actually!

Faced with this huge, complex problem, it’s so easy to throw up our hands. Do any of our personal changes matter at this point? YES. In fact, they’re necessary. Think of this as a three-tier process: Individual action, community action and policy change.

1. First, Individual Action

Start by figuring out the biggest piece of your personal carbon footprint. Hayhoe suggests using a detailed carbon calculator. “Each of us has a different lifestyle, so the biggest bang for our buck in reducing our own carbon emissions could be very different from someone else’s.” It might be your daily commute, your heating system, your food choices, or where you shop. Hayhoe also recommends checking out Project Drawdown which ranks 100 different solutions to climate change — from composting to eating a plant-rich diet to choosing LED lighting — based on how much carbon they would reduce. Once you find out what makes up your own footprint, then consider the solutions that might help you reduce it.

2. Second, Community Action

Many of our personal changes can then be implemented at the community level. Take the goal of reducing food waste — a huge factor, especially in this country. We throw out a third of the food we produce, according to Hayhoe. “If global food waste were a country,” she says, “it would be the third biggest emitter of heat-trapping gasses, after China and the U.S.”

You can start by addressing your household food waste, and at the same time, look into your local groceries to see what their policy is on misshapen apples and other “unsellable” produce. “There are many nonprofits that collect these items and distribute them to low-income households which may not be able to afford fresh produce.” Is your supermarket working with one? If not, perhaps start researching organizations yourself. Email your local officials and put it on their radar, too. You don’t have to be an expert or a full-time activist. Just get the ball rolling.

To find organizations in your area, you might start by searching for nonprofits in your region on Charity Navigator or GreatNonprofits. You can also look at your local government website to see what initiatives your community is working on, and how you might get involved. And check out the solutions detailed on Project Drawdown, which offers great (and doable!) ideas for both individuals and communities.

Doing the work in your own home and your neighborhood, no matter how big or small, does have a meaningful impact. “It’s a win-win,” says Hayhoe. “You’re reducing your carbon footprint and modeling that behavior to your larger community,” which then sets an example for the next town over, then the county, then the state. That’s how individual actions can become policy change.

3. Lastly, Policy

Individual and community action are necessary, but as Hayhoe points out, our personal choices can only control 30 to 40 percent of national emissions. We need major policy changes in order to address the large-scale damage done by corporations, industries, and government regulations (or lack thereof). “What we have to do is convince our elected leaders that this is really important.” And, frankly, a lot of us don’t realize it is. Current data indicates 70 percent of Americans believe global warming is happening. Only 61 percent are worried about it. Only 41 percent think it will have any impact on them.

And right now, research shows, most of us never discuss climate change at all! As long as the public — especially the voting public — remains divided and under-informed, we won’t be able to put that necessary pressure on our leaders. If we want this to be the kind of issue that politicians pay attention to, it’s up to us to make it one.

That’s why, Hayhoe affirms again, “the most important thing that any one individual can do,” says Hayhoe, “is talk about this. And I don’t mean talking about all the science-y details. I mean, talk about what we’ve done in our own lives, the way climate change affects us where we live, and how there are positive solutions.” Did you start composting? Tell your mom! Are you going meat-free during the week? Spread the word! These conversations, she says, should be had with everyone in our lives: friends, colleagues, neighbors, kids, parents. If we never talk about this issue, it will never be addressed. “And until we all understand and believe that there are solutions that can fix this, we’re not going to do them.”

Policy change has never happened spontaneously, out of the goodness of the government’s heart. Civil rights, marriage equality, women’s reproductive rights — all major social and political change has been fueled by vocal, unified individuals. Political change starts when we make it personal.

So, let’s talk! Please weigh in: What changes have you made to reduce your carbon footprint? Any great tips or smart articles you’ve read? We’re eager to hear.

P.S. A quiz that tests your climate change knowledge, a designer committed to zero waste, and the people who will be hardest hit by climate change.

(Photo by Raymond Forbes LLC/Stocksy.)

  1. Clare says...

    I was just wondering when we could see more on this absolutely critical – and time-critical – topic? You mentioned a series so I’m really hoping it’s going to be regular and frequent enough to help keep things front-of-mind… thank you!

  2. I started a Zero Waste FB page: @ZeroWasteSantaClarita for my community and working toward transitioning myself and made a commitment to not throw anything away into the landfill. If I can’t recycle it, I’m sending it back to the company that made it or sending it through Terracycle.

  3. scan says...

    how about really simple things like remembering to bring your reusable shopping bags, rinse and reuse ziplock bags, wasting less food by starting with smaller portions, taking leftovers from a restaurant meal, keeping reusable silverware, cups, napkins at work so you can skip the plastic when needed, skip the plastic straws, use the least amount of paper towels to clean up spills, carrying your own water bottle for self and kiddos, turn the faucet off when brushing teeth. so much of what we read involves extremes but small changes are a gateway to more sustainable habits.

  4. I’ve loved so many of the suggestions on here! I’ve made personal changes to take responsibility for my own impact, but don’t come close to doing everything I can. I thought of the places that changes to my behavior can make the most difference — which was food (became a vegetarian a few years ago), driving (electric), and single use plastic.

    I wanted to share the best purchase I’ve made ($15) to help me reduce straw use. As an entrepreneur, I work from coffee shops a lot and travel often to attend or speak at conferences. So I noticed that I was not only using lots of plastic cups (LifeFactory glass has been a great help here!) but also tossing a lot of straws.

    A local to me (Philly) company, United by Blue, makes sustainable clothing & goods AND they clean up 1 lb of water trash for each purchase made. They sell an awesome stainless steel straw kit that comes in a pouch made from recycled plastic. It gives you 2 straws (but has room for 4), a silicone bendy thing, and a cleaner brush. I’ve been taking it with me all over the place — hotels, my city, and even when we stay at other people’s homes. The fact that it comes in this travel pouch and gives you the cleaner brush has been key.

    Just thought I’d share this resource! It would make a great holiday gift to pass all this waste reduction goodness forward ☺️

    PS. I’m an avid cook and have made it my personal mission to find the “Best of” vegetarian recipes for my favorite dishes — lasagna, “meatballs”, tacos, lentil soup, enchiladas, shepherds pie, vegan chili, Indian curries, etc. I basically tried a bunch of different recipes for each dish type and then created a master “Best of” (to me) list of what came out best.

    I know for me, it felt kind of overwhelming when I first became a vegetarian. And I wasn’t so into the fake or imitation meat stuff. I wanted to eat plants since, well… that was kind of the point. Luckily I feel like I’ve built a solid rotation of classics now. So I’d be happy to share that list with anyone who’d like it. ?

    • Elizabeth says...

      I would love your “best of” vegetarian list!! :)

    • Christina says...

      I would love to see your list! That sounds amazing!

  5. Kate says...

    #3: sign up for The NRDC mailing list! Keeps on top of local and national environmental policy issues, which receive surprisingly little attention elsewhere. Also provides templates for contacting local legislators with your concerns.

  6. Clare Agra says...

    Studies clearly show the #1 individual action ANYONE can do to reduce their carbon footprint it to eat a vegan diet. There’s no dancing around that yet you do. Happy to see you talking climate but a vegan diet is a huge part of that conversation.,

  7. Lauren Kesner O'Brien says...

    Last year I started going to meetings of two environmentalist organizations, 350 and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Both are nationwide organizations with local chapters. 350 was started by Bill McKibben and works on local and state policies. Citizens Climate Lobby has impressive, bipartisan support for a bill in Congress, the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act.

    Though I wish I could go more often and be more involved with both organizations, whatever action and time I can give feels meaningful. I’d encourage readers to go to a meeting and get involved:

    350 Brooklyn: and

    Citizens’ Climate Lobby:

  8. Anna says...

    Eating fully plant-based, minimizing flying, and biking whenever we can (we just invested in a family-friendly electric bike, which is a game changer!)

    • Sharon says...

      Would love to know which electric bike you got! We’re looking into similar options for our family as well and all the research has me dizzy :)

  9. Kate says...

    The best thing we can do for climate change is simple. Have fewer children. I think this is less of an issue in first world countries, but here on the African continent it’s a real problem. Noone needs more than 2 kids and if climate change doesn’t factor into your decision, you haven’t educated yourself properly. I have friends who are remaining childless because of climate change!

    • Kelsey T. says...

      This is 100% accurate. If you want to “save the world” get educated. It’s not about “giant corps” or “government” – 80% of global emissions come from consumers (i.e. cars, heating houses, etc.). Further, with rising population, energy demand has always followed. If you want to save the world, think about what you can actually do, instead of who you can yell at or where you can protest (neither of which ever saved a single GHG emission).

    • msd says...

      Having children has the biggest environmental impact, by a very large margin. It makes people defensive, understandably, but it’s something that needs to be talked about seriously. I like kids too but so many articles praise small-impact changes and ignore big-impact changes; it’s frustrating. Constant growth – in many areas – is an unsustainable model.

      However, it’s definitely not an issue that applies to ‘third world’ countries. First world citizens consume far more resources per capita than their counterparts in poor nations!

    • Clare says...

      Incorrect. The best individual action we can do is to eat a vegan diet. Numerous studies back this up.

  10. jenny says...

    Our old car died last week – so we bought a Plug-in Hybrid. (The Kia Niro)
    I’m already seeing the amazing decrease in gas we will consume.
    Since Friday, for errands and activities we drove about 80 miles, but only used gas as if we drove 3.

  11. Please, please, please join your local Sierra Club,, or Citizen’s Climate Lobby chapter!

    We need to take steps to reduce our own consumption but we also need to organize. It’s amazing what we can do when we work together.

    I joined Sierra Club last year and so far we have committed 5 cities/towns/counties in Utah (Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab, Summit County, Cottonwood Heights) to work with our energy provider to go 100% renewable by 2030. Working on many more. We’re a small group of organizers but we’re making huge progress… more than anything I could imagine a year ago, stressed and concerned about this all.

    • Clare Agra says...

      Love this! Great advice & I’m going to join my local chapter now.

  12. Emma Reisinger says...

    We use old tee shirts cut into washcloth size pieces, old socks, and stained washcloths for rags, and use those instead of paper towels. I have a narrow cleaning cupboard in the kitchen and there’s always a drawstring bag of rags in there. If they’re incredibly dirty I will throw them out (like if I have to clean up motor oil), but normally they just go in the wash with dish towels and other towels/sheets. If there’s something really gross on there and I don’t want it spreading in the laundry, they go into a bin with water to pre-soak. We have paper towels right now because I have roommates who insist on them but we are a household of 4 adults and we go through maybe one roll per month and we get recycled-paper ones.

    We need to move away from having disposable/single-use options readily available. My pet peeve is plastic bags at the grocery store–I lived in Europe for a couple years and am used to just CARRYING things, but here even when I insist on no bag, the cashiers will often bag stuff in plastic. Or they won’t bag my whole purchase but will put certain items in plastic (like soap). If we switched to the default of not having items bagged in stores, that would reduce plastic bag use much faster than everyone struggling to remember their own canvas totes. Right now, the default (at least in America) is to waste–all the time. Part of this is personal choice but a huge part of it is what’s available to us. That needs to shift to have meaningful change. If you have time, lobby the brands you buy from often, whether that’s Target or small independent shops, to change their practices.

  13. Ali says...

    Thanks for this post! SO GOOD……
    I agree with other commenters – protest and getting involved politically is the best chance we’ve got, but I believe even though the personal stuff we do makes a minimal difference, we have to change our mindsets from a “I want it all and right now” society and that will only happen as we learn the self discipline to say no to ourselves.
    I don’t think I will ever stop eating meat entirely but I eat vegetarian/vegan about 70% of meals now.
    I’ve recently made a commitment to do holidays that require a plane ride once every three years.
    Cutting down on the car is the hard one – I live in a city with CRAP public transport so I’m still working on lowering this significantly.
    It’s been about five years now that I’ve severely limited buying new clothes – mainly practical things like underwear now. Second hands stores are amazing but took me a while to get good at it.

  14. Caitlin says...

    Yes, thank you for TALKING about this. It’s such a huge and terrifying problem, always hovering at the back (or right up front!) of my mind, yet it also feels…impolite? awkward? to actually bring it up. So, what I just decided to do: get together with other families, to talk and to do an action, together. I was inspired by Mother Up! and Mothers Out Front. We just had our first informal meet up at a playground, meeting each other, sharing worries and ideas, and then writing postcards to our city council to pass a Climate Emergency Declaration (as drafted by youth for the Climate Strike). In the big picture, it was not enough, of course, but it was such a RELIEF to say out loud, I’m freaked out about this, and hey, you are too. Planning to keep this little community going and growing!

  15. Meatless Monday’s is a great and simple way to make a difference. The meat industry has a huge carbon footprint and so if each of us goes just one day without consuming meat, we will all make a huge difference.

  16. Sherry says...

    It seems like blogs, etc. have to encourage consumption (affiliate links and sponsorships) to make a profit. Yes, it’s fun to see new looks and products all the time, but when all of us have plenty to wear in our closet, it’s definitely not necessary. How do you feel about that? Is it just the way it is and the good outweighs the bad? Have you thought about going to a different model? I’m Curious to hear your thinking about this because y’all are always so thoughtful.

    • HR says...

      Agreed. Would love to hear more thoughts on cognitive dissonance

    • Lauren Callaway says...

      I thought the exact same thing when I saw this post!!

  17. Jess West says...

    Watch Cowspiracy on Netflix and What the Health….
    I watched them on consecutive nights and you’ll never eat meet again! Switched out milk out too, to nut milk… and upped our green veg intake. Very compelling viewing, very persuasive!

  18. Jewel says...

    Thank you for this post. Along with reducing waste (plastic, food, paper, clothing, etc.) as many have already noted, I’d like to add taking a look at how we travel. We can walk, bike or take public transportation to work. It may actually be faster than driving. In the cases it takes longer than driving, not only are we lowering CO2 emissions, we can use the extra time to read a book, listen to a podcast, catch up on emails, etc. We also need to think about flying less. Many business flights are not necessary. In most cases, a teleconference using software so we can all see each other on screen is sufficient. Schedule meetings at times which work for multiple time zones and switch around so every party has a “good” time. While traveling for pleasure, we should cut back on those short trips which have us flying long distances for only a few days. When possible, consider taking the train. Yes, it takes longer, but it’s a true adventure, and you’ll see places you’ve never seen before. We also need to ask ourselves if it’s really necessary to fly around the world with a “been there, done that” mentality and in search of that perfect instagram photo. I love to travel, but I don’t do it to say I’ve been there but rather to experience the place I’m visiting. By limiting myself to one flight a year and taking many trains, I’m still able to travel extensively and see the world.

  19. Maddie says...

    I’ve thought a lot about this recently, and have also tried to put as many of these tips/hacks/life changes into practice as possible. A few of the ones my partner and I have done are switching to bar soap, buying loose veggies (*not* wrapped in plastic), choosing glass over plastic whenever possible, only washing clothes that are actually dirty (not just bc you wore it once), bringing our own containers when getting takeout, and many more.

    In order to keep these issues at the front of my mind, I also follow many Zero Waste instagram accounts. It’s helpful to have these small, albeit regular, reminders that I’m not alone, and there’s always more that we can do to reduce our footprint. A few accounts for inspiration…

  20. Emma Brett says...

    Thanks so much for this thoughtful piece on the climate crisis. I completely agree that talking about the climate emergency is so important, we need to make this part of everyday conversation, make it normal to be concerned. I just wanted to add that it can be hard to talk about it, it’s not an easy topic of conversation and I found it needed courage to bring it up. But it’s so worth it and gets easier to do, once I had experienced other peoples’ reactions.

    All of the steps I have taken to reduce my carbon footprint have given me an opportunity to talk about it. Saying ‘no thanks, I’m trying to keep plastic out of my life as much as I can’ to the manager in a cafe led to a discussion about how he wants to find alternatives. Asking my employer to allow me to claim train fares instead of driving my car and claiming mileage needed courage but they were so supportive and my boss shares many of my concerns. Also I am saving them money so it’s win win! Telling the young adults in my family that I was attending the Youth Climate marches needed courage but we had a conversation where they were able to express their deep anger and sense of powerlessness. It also allowed me to share my belief in the power of people coming together to force our governments to take action and change policy and to demonstrate this.

    Most people respond positively and will share their thoughts and feelings about it. Even when they don’t I hope that my small interaction with them will at least make them think about what is happening and makes it more normal to be concerned.

    I was inspired by Peter Kalmus’s book, ‘Being the Change’, by following the youth climate activists, who break my heart regularly with their anger and determination, and by the young children in my family whose future I am so worried about.

    I hope that we all keep on talking about it but also that we don’t take on the responsibility for the climate emergency as individuals. I feel a moral responsibility to do what I can but I know it’s political action that is needed and that the big corporations and governments are the ones responsible for the situation we are in, not our use of plastic bags. And we all take the time to appreciate the amazing world that we live in and the nature that’s around us, and look after ourselves and each other, these are testing times that we are living in.

    Sorry, much longer post than I had intended. Thanks CoJ for this.

  21. Robin says...

    Thank you so much for this, especially the calculator. I am vegetarian and have been working to reduce mine and my family’s waste and make better choices (especially in terms of clothes for me and the kids). But there’s so much more we can and should do. I haven’t done the calculator yet but I’m pretty sure my biggest avoidable impact is flying :(. We go out to the west coast once a year to see family, and I was planning a trip south too for an escape from the Toronto winter but … maybe we need to make our peace with where we are. More time on a lake in the summer and sledding in January isn’t such a bad trade really.

    And just in case it needs saying, vote! For my fellow Canadians, Trudeau is an unthinking twit, but he put in place a carbon tax and seems more serious than the rest about making change (except the greens but that feels like wishful thinking). That’s where I’m leaning anyway. xo

  22. Erin says...

    It’s definitely important to take individual responsibility for our contributions to climate change (every little bit helps) but I still think it’s more important to get involved in policy changes, through petitions, marches, voting … etc. I participated in the Climate Strike last week, and it was so heartening to see how many people turned out.
    I also run a chapter of Extinction Rebellion. If you’re interested and able to participate in civil disobedience for the environment, I’d definitely recommend finding a local chapter or starting your own!

    • Chloe says...

      With all due respect, I hate the rhetoric that individuals can be absolved of their responsibility in combating climate change because the majority of the damage is done by the “big bad man.” Take individual responsibility. It is utterly hypocritical to blame the system for causing the crisis we are in when ultimately, we control the system. Of course, vote and march and petition, but do not think that just because you painted a witty insult on a poster and marched around your city’s capital, your job is done.

  23. Joanna says...

    Talking about reducing consumption, what about an introduction to a capsule wardrobe for a post?

  24. Alina says...

    We could do all of this and more and in the grand scheme of things it would not make a difference globally. The US overall has actually reduced it’s emissions in the last century and continues to do so. China and India are the main polluters. Climate change is heavily mentioned here and in Europe because of the global agenda to tax people in developed countries more (on the pretext of it going to funds that help fight climate change), policing our life choices (eat less meat – subsidized genetically engineered soy and corn are the main alternatives, etc.) and enabling the government to get even bigger and have even more power.

    • isabelle says...

      Literally this week the US has further rolled back emissions regulations, and we’ve seen a years long parade of abandoning climate agreements and efforts that shows no signs of stopping. Shifting blame doesn’t absolve you of responsibility. If you’ve given up all hope of the government doing anything to help, why not try to make change on a personal level?

    • Madeline says...

      It absolutely would make a difference globally. Many people who look to China (and India) as the main problem-makers forget something very important: Americans import and consume a significant amount of products that cause those problems (aka emissions). Check out this Forbes article for more information:

      “That means the US accounted for roughly 5% of China’s total Co2 emissions in 2012. In total, China exported products responsible for about 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2012, about 16% of its total.

      This figures not only make China look a little more virtuous, they erase almost all of the West’s recent progress in cutting greenhouse gasses.”


    • Laura says...

      With all due respect, your point about the US reducing emissions over the past 100 years is simply false. We are a main polluter, plain and simple. While China has indeed recently jumped ahead of us, we are not far behind as the second worst offending country worldwide, currently. The linked graphic below even suggests our annual emissions are nearly triple what they were 100 years ago. Cumulatively, the USA total emissions for the past 100 years will vastly outnumber that of any country including China for some time. A single US citizen produces – at the very least – double the CO2 emissions per year than the average global citizen, and that’s for someone who is particularly mindful and uses the least amount of energy. The average US citizen’s CO2 emissions are 5 times that of the average global citizen. Our individual life choices 100% make a difference. Don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.

    • Jennifer Forshee says...

      We didn’t reduce emissions, we just offshored them to China, India, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

    • Ali says...

      Yeah Nah, as we like to say in Australia. US reducing emissions over the past 100 years is absolutely false. The last 30 years has been when things have ramped up, US included. I would suggest tracking down some peer reviewed research to read. The peer reviewed part is important – it means there is consensus on the research, not just one persons opinion. Here’s an address for the IPCC report:
      The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change, not some random persons opinion :-)

  25. Hanna says...

    I’ve seen a few comments about limiting paper towel use – did you know they can be composted? We compost ours along with our food waste – apparently they’ll biodegrade in 60 days! Not sure if this is true for all brands but we buy recycled ones that have less chemicals.

    • isabelle says...

      This is not true in all jurisdictions. IMPORTANT: Check with your local facilities to see what they can accept, and in which form you need to give it to them. For instance, where I live, you CANNOT recycle or compost paper towels but you can compost certain tea bags. You can recycle aluminum can pull tabs but only if you collect them in a larger can or aluminum container – apparently they are too small to go through the processing machines on their own, because they’ll fall through the conveyor belt. I’ve lived in places in the past where you couldn’t recycle glass at all. It REALLY depends where you live – it might even be the case that you have the facilities in your area, but they can’t do pickup service so you need to drop things off with them. Everybody needs to do their research, and you should share the information with your neighbors!

  26. Reading these comments has been both humbling and inspiring for me. I often look at the people in my community and feel I’m the only one who really cares. I carry my own cutlery and bags and tins, and I compost and avoid most packaged foods. But many of the people commenting here are clearly doing more than I am. It feels great to know so many other people care and are taking action. And it challenges me to do better.

  27. Maelle says...

    1)POLICY: vote for people who will be brave enough to make the right, albeit tough decisions right. now. Many studies show that if global warming hits +2 celsius degrees, we won’t be able to contain it to only that because the permafrost will be melting and releasing thousands of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere, therefore making the global temperatures increase by 5 celsius degrees. At these temperatures, it is estimated that only 1 billion people will be able to survive, meaning that 6 billion of us will die. At this rate, it is also estimated that this will start happening by the year 2050, when most of us and all of our children will still be alive. We don’t need to just talk about climate change, we need to FREAK OUT NOW.

    2) CARBON FOOTPRINT: no planes, no ship cruises, no cars. The last one isn’t doable for many people, so we need to rethink our whole transportation system and the way our cities are built and change for electric or hydroelectric cars (which circles back to number 1, a radical change of policy).

    3) FOOD: eat local, eat seasonal, eat less meat and dairy.

    4) NO FAST “anything”: no fast fashion, no single use products, no plastic. We need to build local, sustainable, resilient communities where all of what we need could/should be available AND affordable for everyone.

    There is a great documentary made by a french director called “Tomorrow” that i mentionned once in the comments already, maybe 2 or 3 years ago that is full of hope and super impactful. I started transitionning to a more sustainable, ethical way of life after watching it and highly recommend it to everyone.

    • Ali says...

      Love your list – summed it all up perfectly :-)

  28. Thank you for this much-needed post! One of the biggest things we can all do is to drastically reduce what we send to the landfill. Lauren Singer suggests looking at your trash to see what you’re throwing away. When I looked at my trash, I found the majority of it was food packaging- cellophane wrappers, cereal bags (the bag inside the box), cracker bags, chip bags, protein bar wrappers, etc. I’ve been able to cut most of the plastic out of my life. It’s definitely been an adjustment because it means I don’t buy many prepared foods. I’m extremely lazy in the kitchen and I like it that way ha. But I’ve started buying fresh produce and bringing my own produce bags to the store. If there’s an option, I always choose glass, metal, or paper packaging, or better yet, package free.

    I think it would be so great if you could feature Lauren Singer on here. Lauren is living proof that you can be hip/chic/cool and zero waste at the same time. She is full of great tips, never preachy, and most of all, a huge inspiration.

  29. There are 400 comments on here, but I’m going to add mine anyways because I’ve been thinking about this a lot for a long time. Here’s what I’ve done/been doing for the past few years:
    – reduced single use items in the kitchen (straws, paper towels, and food storage) with metal straws, cloth/rag towels, and bee’s wax paper and glass containers for storage, reusable shopping bags, etc.
    – walk or take public transportation whenever possible
    – plastic- free shampoo (highly recommend lush cosmetics)
    – shopping my closet (best case scenario) or buying second hand clothing. For underwear/socks going with sustainable/b-corps companies
    – fair trade/rainforest friendly coffee and chocolate, and reading labels to avoid palm oil.
    – reducing meat and cheese consumption A LOT (cow products are generally the worst.) and buying sustainably farmed products and ocean-friendly fish when we do buy meats.

    There’s so much room for growth, but start with one thing. We can do this!

  30. Christi says...

    Thank you for this!!! Living in Alaska, we are seeing the effects firsthand. We’ve all been forced to talk about it more with warming winters, entire communities relocating due to rising sea levels, and increased forest fires and heat in summer.
    I’m afraid we have to reach the tipping point before people will talk about it, though :[

    • Ali says...

      Oh gosh Christi, I didn’t know this about Alaska! Just terrible…. I think you just proved the main point in this article – when we speak up and talk about it, we all learn and have more stories to share. Thanks for sharing :-)

  31. Rashmi says...

    My husband and I were people in love with detailed plans for 2 kids and their names all ready. We have chosen not to have any children of our own to reduce the burden of carbon footprint of a human being’s entire lifespan. There’s only so far that turning vegetarian and driving an electric car can impact the state of the environment. We need drastic measures.

    • Chloe says...

      There’s no need to shame people for choosing to prioritize their own happiness. Congratulations for making a selfless choice, but we should not measure the value of a human being by their carbon footprint.

    • Ali says...

      Brave decision – thanks for making it. I’m a single woman in my forties and in many ways feel grateful I didn’t end up having kids, due to carbon footprint and worrying about their future. Having said that, for all the anxious parents out there, I also believe in the power of the younger generation to change the world aka Greta!

    • KG says...

      Adoption is wonderful in every way! I highly, highly recommend it. There are many children all over the world in need of loving homes.

  32. Ingrid says...

    FAST FASHION is one of the biggest polluters! Many brands BURN what they do not sell. Most fast fashion brands do not pay their workers fairly, offer maternity leave, health care or benefits. These brands hurt the humans (mostly women) that make these clothes we all wear. Break up with these brands! Want to make even more of a change? Buy less. Use what you already have and repair it instead of throwing it away. Support independent small business when you need something new. Break up with Amazon! Support brands that support you and your values! It’s going to take each and every one of us to stand up and do what’s right for the planet.

  33. Tess says...

    Great post and ideas. I also recommend:

    -Using a safety razor for shaving—no plastic and much better shave
    -Taking Uber Pool or Lyft line if I am ridesharing because it’s more people in one car
    -Ripping up old T-shirts for rags
    -Not buying a ton of fancy reusable products for eating out, but just bring your regular silverware for office lunches
    -Always packing a water bottle for vacations, which also saves me a ton of money at the airport
    -Only ordering meat when I eat or and not cooking with it at home
    -Reusing any plastic or glass packaging I can, from pasta sauce jars to Parmesan cheese containers
    -Buying as much food in glass as I can, and not plastic

    • These are great tips! I’d add that Lyft is carbon neutral, so I always choose Lyft over Uber.

  34. Patty says...

    I eat less meat and gotta say I feel a lot better … physically and emotionally and mentally!

    I live in MN and we are coming to the cooler weather, but before the birds fly south of here and in the mornings, they seem to have trouble or are slower moving until it warms up during day. They will fly in the paths of vehicles and it makes me sick all the ones that get killed. Especially sad when it was just announced bird populations have declined by 30 per cent. One small or not-so-small thing…but we need to help the species we share this earth with!!

  35. Ess says...

    Yes to sustainable and used fashion on CoJ! And vegan/vegetarian cooking, like Jenny’s awesome column! Could you do a partnership with ThredUp or other used clothing sites?

  36. Ess says...

    Thank you so much for this series. Climate change affects all of us and is so appropriate for a lifestyle blog! Please, do a piece on carbon fee and dividend and the great work that Citizens Climate Lobby is doing! I think its a really powerful policy solution, and where I spend my time advocating.

    • gracemarie says...

      Thank you for posting that link!!

    • Meghan says...

      Like many I try to do my part; however, it’s discouraging when people don’t even CARE to try. It may not be convenient but it’s easy!
      -paper towel free, bought a 12 pack of white clothes that I keep in a glass jar next to the sink, also keep a dish towel on the stove handle to grab and dry.
      -Joined a local organic farm CSA 5 years ago, May-Nov. Just joined a new one for Winter crops Dec- Mar.
      -Support a local farm by sending my son to camp/after school program to learn about agriculture, animals, environment. He LOVES this!!
      -Walk to our local farmers market every Sunday June-Sept.
      -Line dry clothes, towels, sheets
      -Purchase second hand clothes from Thredup
      -Clothe lunch bags, reusable utensils, stainless steel containers
      -Switching to bar shampoo/soaps
      -Need to have hubby make our laundry soap again!!
      -Walk everywhere in town and shop local. My stroller is like my car!
      -Rewear something before washing right away.
      -Berkey water filter to insure we have clean water! This has been the BEST invest I have made for our home, plus carrying around our Lifefactory glass bottles every day.
      -Breastfeed my daughter as long as possible.
      -Cut back on meat consumption and discuss the importance with my husband.
      -Use up what I have left in the fridge, even though our “favorites” are gone!
      -toothbrush with removable heads
      -We are looking to join a local pickup compost now.

      SOO much more to be done!!!

  37. Kim says...

    Thank you!
    Climate change is such a massive and complex issue. It’s so easy to not pay attention or get involved. But I feel so much more empowered and part of my community now that I’m talking about it and taking action. The climate strike walk today was so inspiring.
    I suggest finding your local environmental non-profit and supporting them, donate if you can, but even by just following them on social media, liking and commenting can be a big help.
    We’re all in this together :)

  38. Tracy says...

    I made a lot of changes including canceling my amazon prime account, composting, shopping at the Package Free store in Williamsburg, using cosmetics in sustainable containers and buying produce at the farmers market. I miss the shows on Prime but not all the packaging I got all the time because of the “free shipping” mentality. I am currently searching for a plastic free dry cleaner.

    • Angela says...

      These are manageable steps for me. Thanks!

  39. Kena says...

    Thank you for taking about this! We all need to keep talking about it to face it together.

  40. Caroline says...

    THANK YOU so much for posting about climate change. It will be wonderful to have COJ’s thoughtful take on this crisis, and I love the reader tips.
    Two things I’ve been focused on:
    1. Moving my investments out of companies that support fossil fuels and asking the organizations I donate to, like my college, to do the same (A very good primer on this is:
    2. Emailing companies to thank them for good practices or to push them to change their ways and address climate change. It only takes a few minutes during lunch and I’ve gotten really thoughtful responses back. If I’m really fired up I’ll copy the CEO and COO’s email (they’re often easy to google)!
    Thank you, COJ, for getting this conversation going!

    • This is awesome.

    • Ali says...

      oh these are great! I moved my superannuation (I think US calls it 401?) to a company that focuses on renewables and won’t invest in oil and gas.

  41. katie says...

    Super duper, thank you! Not sure if they’re just on the west coast at this point, but Imperfect Produce is a great way to buy ‘cosmetically challenged’ produce & help reduce waste. It’s affordable and you can customize and/or skip boxes as necessary.

    Another thing to do? Get outside as often as possible & tread lovingly. Notice & nurture all the living things in your neighborhood…put out a bird bath or pick up some litter; save a snail from getting scrunched by moving it to the nearest patch of grass — stuff like that. Just treat the world more like your living room, cuz it is!

  42. mary s says...

    Well, I’m into wasting less and buying less and generally doing whatever I can to curb individual GHG emissions. BUT I also agree wholeheartedly with Elizabeth Warren, who answered a question about plastic straws and light bulbs this way: “Give me a break! . . . This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry wants us to talk about. … They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your lightbulbs, around your straws, and around your cheeseburgers, when 70 percent of the pollution, of the carbon that we’re throwing into the air, comes from three industries.” And, finally, at the risk of being called a partisan hack, I agree with Vox’s David Roberts, who wrote recently about “one weird trick” that can help cities and states pass clean energy policy: elect Democrats.

    • Anna says...

      YES to this!!! ELECT DEMOCRATS!

    • Sara says...

      THIS! Yes.

  43. Becky says...

    Thank you SO much for this conversation. Everyone needs to do a small part to make a big difference.

  44. Jocelyn says...

    There are so many incredible suggestions here! A few that I try to constantly incorporate into my life are to carry reuseable cutlery with me to avoid the plastic utensils that are wrapped in more plastic (oh my!) and to reuse water whenever possible so if I’m washing off some produce I place a bucket underneath to catch all the water and then I feed that water right back into my garden or plants. I also think a clothes shopping ban is a great suggestion, I did it for a year and it truly taught me how to love the things I already own, say goodbye to those I didn’t, and after to only welcome what I truly need into my life. Incorporating more plants into your diet is also a great way to help and who doesn’t need a bit more fruit & veg in their lives. :) We live in a beautifully chaotic world and one that we so desperately need to take care of. Sometimes life gets so overwhelming, but the best step is to take it one choice at a time (Can I walk/bike/public transit to work today? Do I really need the plastic straw to drink my iced coffee? Do I need to run the dishwasher right now, or can I wait a bit until it’s truly full?) because all the little choices add up to bigger changes that are all a great way to give back to this world we all call home.

  45. Katie says...

    It just needs to be said- This is definitely a heavily controversial statement, and I understand that for so many reasons and have zero judgments, but really, a huge thing we can do to make an impact is to keep our families small. This blog does a beautiful job talking about it (I’m in no way affiliated)

    Children, as beautiful and miraculous and lovable that they are, require a lot and it taxes the earth. Beyond that, they grow into adults who eat and buy new things and drive and tax the earth. Believe me when I say “to each their own!” on this one, but in my opinion it’s an obvious answer to the growing human population (also, PLEASE, PLEASE understand that I totally get the nuances of this and the education/access/rights that go into this). But if we look at it “scientifically,” it’d be a huge help. In fact, it’s in the top three reasons for my husband and me why we’re going to keep our family of three.

    Also, shout out for all the things we’re all doing day in and day out to keep our impacts lower!

    • C. says...

      It did not actually need to be said. How many children one chooses to have, and the reasons for their decisions, are private, personal choices that are nobody else’s business. Let’s not politicize reproductive rights any more than they are already are.

    • CEW says...

      And a better choice would have been to have zero. How does that make you feel? I have a one child family as well, and will / would never, *ever* have another child beyond our one. But it is not up to either you or me to dictate others’ choices on this incredibly personal topic under the guise of environmentalism. The best thing would be to keep in mind these environmental concerns and continue doing your part to minimize them whether you’re a family of 2 or 10.

    • Rashmi says...

      C. Actually what everyone eats, wears, how they commute are also personal decisions and really no one’s business, isn’t it? It’s responses like this which make me wonder if we shall ever make any progress on this subject because everyone is so touchy about people being “judgemental” about their life choices when in reality someone may just be talking about how to make a difference. You can always choose not to. The subject has nothing to do with reproductive rights at all.

    • E says...

      Thank you! Overpopulation is a CRITICAL piece to this discussion, and absolutely needed to be said. All the composting in the world won’t counterbalance the damage of adding to an unsustainable population.

    • Meredith MC says...

      I agree with you! This topic is taboo because people feel like their personal choices are affected, and they’re being judged. All I’m saying is this: factor the burden too the planet into that decision making process.

    • Laura says...

      To all the repliers/commenters, reproductive rights are ABSOLUTELY part of the conversation. In Project Drawdown, it is described as the 7th most important solution:

      Do not forget we live in a privileged society where at least most of us have a choice with regards to family planning, though that itself is under attack. A massive number of women in developing countries do not have any such option. There are women in Nepal hiking for miles to simply get their “sisters” in need the contraception they so urgently desire. People in Indonesia are currently protesting because of a proposed law to criminalize sex before marriage.

    • Chloe says...

      The growing world population is definitely a problem. But the solution is not to antagonize people in developed countries for having a child or two. Instead, we need to support countries that are caught in the middle of their development.

      If you look up the “Demographic Transition Model,” you’ll find graphics that depict the birth vs death rates of countries as they go from having no access to new technology, to becoming countries like the ones we live in. As access to basic medical care spreads around the world, death rates fall but birth rates stay high, leading to a population boom until birth rates fall as well. And how do we help birth rates decrease in these countries? Largely, by providing women with means for socioeconomic gain. When we educate women about their choices (not only when it comes to reproductive health, but also their careers and lifestyles), birth rates decrease.

      You can look here ( for a good picture to look at. Countries that contribute the most to our population boom (and therefore are the most taxing on our natural resources) are caught in Stage 3.

    • S says...

      Thank you for this comment, Katie. For those saying that this is nobody’s business – the same could be argued of any of our individual choices. And Katie is right that this is controversial, and nobody should speak specifically to anyone’s individual choices. However, the fact scientific remains, whether anyone likes it or not, that Katie is also right that population affects climate. There is nothing wrong at all about stating something that is true, phrased tactfully and respectfully, and most importantly, relevant to the conversation at hand.

    • Aneta says...

      Thank you for saying this and doing so in such a kind manner. It’s a touchy subject. This definitely needs to be part of the discussion. Meat consumption is also taboo for many, but it is one of the most impactful things we can do for the planet – eat a LOT less of it. The point is that to make a change we can’t stand still and hide behind ‘personal choice’. Ultimately most of this is personal choice. To expect for something to change without doing anything differently is the definition of madness.

    • Ali says...

      Well done for saying it Katie, even though you copped a few ‘opinions’! It’s a hard but necessary topic for all to think through considering how dire things are. :-)

    • Ker says...

      Thank you for saying this Katie (and Rashmi farther up on the thread). People can get huffy about it but it doesn’t change the science. I think the best approach is to encourage everyone to have the smallest number of children that feels okay for them.

  46. Winter Blue says...

    Thank you SO much for covering climate change. I’ve been wanting to ask for a while, it’s such a glaring omission of your awesome coverage of important things. Great start with the incredible and highly respected Katherine Hayhoe.

    Thank you :)))

  47. Kristen says...

    I’m so inspired by these comments and some new ideas I’m reading here. Thank you for talking about this COJ. A few years ago, inspired by a woman named Cait Flanders who did a two year shopping ban in her life, I also did a one year shopping ban of all things except consummables (food, necessary toiletries). It.was.amazing. I saved money, I decluttered, I realized how few consumer goods I actually needed, and I feel like I saved a lot of shipping and plastic waste from polluting the planet. I’ve continued the principles I instituted during that one year shopping ban, and only buy things when they feel more like a need rather than a frivolous want. The flip side is that nowadays I can’t help but be horrified by what feels like such excessive waste in big retail stores, and the shopping experience is just largely depressing for me when I am forced to go for some necessary item (ie- buying multiple required plastic binders and folders for school aged kids at Staples . . . ugh. . . I’m sure I just need to re-think a good alternative).

    • Chiara says...

      I’m always surprised by the things I find at thrift stores, and office/school supplies are certainly one of them. In an effort to be more mindful of my buying habits I keep a running list of things we need on my phone so that when I feel the itch to indulge in retail therapy, I get to comb the thrift store for things we need, like binders!

  48. Lindsey says...

    Also, +1 for more posts about incorporating secondhand clothing into an adult or child wardrobe!! I understand that some of the clothing companies you feature support your site. That being said, one of the biggest impacts we can make is reducing our overall consumption (which includes sustainable brands too!). Buying used whenever possible is hugely important. It’s hard to integrate those habits into one’s life, so it would be great to have CoJ provide some tools, systems & support. @brownkids is a fantastic Insta that I recommend to start thinking about how you can share these types of lifestyle changes.

  49. Lindsey says...

    The biggest realization for me over the last year is that climate justice needs to prioritize indigenous and black communities. Instead of giving money to larger nonprofits (or any group led by someone who is white), consider giving money directly to the many climate activists who have been working in their communities for years now. I would love to see CoJ use this platform to highlight hidden leaders and pass them the mic. Thank you!

    • Ingrid says...


    • Emily says...

      Thank you for this post and comment! Another vote for including this topic of racial/economic factors in the broader climate discussion.

      From this great piece:

      ‘… one may wonder why environmental justice issues have not yet become (US) national priorities. In the wake of natural disasters profoundly exacerbated by climate change, black and brown communities are most vulnerable and at risk physically, financially, mentally, and socially. And they face further marginalization during the disaster recovery process.’

      ‘We must recognize that working toward climate justice is inseparable from working toward racial and economic justice.’

    • Ali says...

      So true! I just did a climate panel lat a conference last weekend and there was an Indigenous man on the panel too and I was like, we should just let him talk and the rest of us shut up! Here in Australia, our Indigenous people have managed the land beautifully for 60,000 years, we should be listening to them! (So this is about my 7th comment now, I’m too passionate about this, I need to stop commenting :-)

  50. There are two really big things that people haven’t really talked about that can be done right now. First, go to your electric company’s website and find out if they have a “green rate” or something similar. If you pay a little bit more each month, your electric company will give you the option to get your energy from renewable resources that they build or outsource. I just signed my family up for this and now we’re getting 100% solar energy without having to install a single solar panel on our home, while still supporting solar energy being created on a wider, community scale. Solar panels are not do-able for a lot of people, especially renters, but these programs make it possible for the rest of us to support and build clean energy resources for everyone.
    Second, learn about regenerative agriculture as a means to solving climate change and buy from local organic or biodynamic farmers. Watch the documentary Sustainable on Netflix to get a hopeful and entertaining look at how regenerative agriculture could actually be the force that will not only capture carbon, but could actually reverse desertificiation, restore natural habitats, and feed the world healthy food using no pesticides, insecticides, or chemical fertilizers that destroy our land and water.

  51. Lynn says...

    Thank you for covering this.

    And yes, talking about it is hard. When friends/in-laws/strangers continue to say “It’s still SO HOT here in SEPTEMBER!” or whatever their acknowledgement is of the climate being more extreme / weird / not like it was 10-20 years ago, part of me wants to be like, “Well, yes, the climate is changing and it’s only gonna get worse.” but them I’m like, why waste my breath, I’ll just sound all doom and gloom, etc etc.

    Here’s to the kids and people like Greta who are forcing the world to watch and talk.

  52. Ellen says...

    Another big and important action: be anti-war
    The U.S. Military is one of the biggest contributors to green house gas in the world (and to toxic chemicals, huge amounts of wasteful garbage and terrible environmental impacts of all types.) If you are worried about your 2 vacation flights a year, can you imagine the impact of fighter jets training??
    Advocating for policy changes that reduce defense spending and stop military bases and training from impacting sensitive environments like the desert and islands could have a much bigger impact than the personal changes.

    • buff butlers says...

      it is the people at the top who is responsible for the devastation of the world

  53. Hannah says...

    My new year’s resolution for 2019 was to eat one vegan meal a day and it’s been a revelation! I’ve been vegetarian since I was 8 but I realised that almost all my meals contained some dairy or eggs. At first I planned to have two fully vegan days a week but one vegan meal a day gives me much greater flexibility (and works out as a higher number of meals too): instead of having to find a whole day when I can make sure none of my meals contain animal products, this way I just figure out what my day holds (so if I’m going to a friend’s house for dinner and I don’t know what she’s making, I won’t choose that meal as my vegan one) and arrange accordingly. I often end up having two or even three vegan meals and I know I could be doing a lot more, but making sure that I have at LEAST one day makes me more attentive to what I consume overall and is a 33% reduction in the amount of dairy/eggs I eat. I HIGHLY recommend it.

    • Sonja says...

      I love your take on this! This is a great idea for someone who either can’t or doesn’t necessarily want to become vegan, but they can still reduce their impact on the planet this way!

  54. Karen says...

    Changes I’ve made – they’re little, but do-able, and I continue to believe that little changes by a lot of people make an impact.

    1.) Kids sack lunches: we use stainless steel food containers. My quick calculation tells me in the 2.5 years of using them (for two kids), I’ve saved from wasting 3000 plastic lunch bags. We have the Miro brand, they’re great.

    2.) No Paper Towels – I haven’t bought a roll of paper towels in 12 years. I have a full stack of cloth kitchen towels – yes, most are stained and worn, but they work for our daily household. I keep a separate stash of “guest ready” (less stained) towels in the back of the drawer.

    3.) Glass food storage: we have no plastic containers, everything is glass that’s reused. Bonus points when I reuse a glass jar from food consumed (marinara).

    4.) Loose produce from the grocery store: I don’t use any plastic produce bags, nor have I replaced that plastic bag “need” with anything else. My theory is first and foremost to REFRAIN from using, then reduce/reuse/recycle. I’ve been using Instacart lately for my grocery runs (which I L-O-V-E!!!), and for each produce item I add to my list, I include the comment: “No plastic bag, please”.

    5.) Laundry and mircoplastics: this filter for our washing machine, which catches mircoplastics before they reach our streams and oceans, is on my consideration list:

    6.) REFRAIN: in general, refrain from immediately consuming or buying something. Is there another way to meet my “need” that can be accomplished using something I already have…..and actually how much do I really NEED it? This question will cut out a good percentage of impulse purchases.

    Love this topic, and it’s always on my mind.

  55. Rachel says...

    Thank you so much for this post! I am a daily CoJ reader and I’m also really passionate about climate justice issues (and do some environmental advocacy for work), so I think it’s great that you are engaging in this conversation. The ideas you shared are helpful and I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments for more great ideas!

    A few ways I’m trying to reduce my footprint:
    -I’m a pescatarian with the goal of being vegan one day. I’m always looking for easy vegetarian and vegan recipes that don’t take forever to make after work. Any suggestions would be welcomed!
    -One simple change that we’ve made in our household over the past year is to stop using paper towels. Instead we’ve invested in a few more dishcloths and a bunch of cloth napkins that we reach for instead. We keep a small laundry bin in the kitchen where we can throw dirty ones until we have enough for a load of wash. Makes the process of using them over and over even easier.
    -We recently installed solar panels on our roof. I’m amazed at how much energy we’ve already produced with them! You can track the production through an app, which is actually really fun and makes me feel more hopeful.

    Like other commenters, I hope CoJ will include more sustainable clothing options as part of the fashion posts. In the last year I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of clothing I buy, and invest in pieces that are more sustainably produced. It would be great to learn about other brands that are committed to ethical and sustainable practices. I would also like to improve on how much food waste my family produces. It would be great to read a post on easy tips to cut down on household food waste.

    Thank you!

    • Keri says...

      Anyone have a specific suggestion for a cloth alternative to paper towels? Cotton, linen, washcloths, cloth napkins, etc?

    • annie says...

      @keri from personal experience: i’ve used cloth washrags for years (i believe cotton? the waffle-textured ones!) and they work great for wiping all surfaces (and kids’ faces and hands)! additionally, i’d like to give a shoutout to the likely many sellers on etsy doing their part in this, and specifically a seller named Marley’s Monsters, who makes a reusable sponge that i’ve been using for at least 1 year. :) very affordable too!

    • Chiara says...

      Hey Keri, I switched 5 or 6 years ago before I knew about microplastics, so we use a combination of cotton bar mops and microfiber. I’m still using the same stack I started with all those years ago.

    • Madame says...

      An added tip for cloth napkin use: we use only cloth napkins, and we have both silver napkin rings engraved with monograms (that look beautiful), and little fabric pouches also embroidered with names so that we can keep our own napkins for several meals.
      They dont need to be washed every time!
      This is a very typically French thing

    • To Keri, I bought a 12-pack of washcloths from Walmart about 6 years ago, and still have ~10 of them. I think they cost $4? The point being, even if those aren’t the perfect material to use, and even though I probably shouldn’t have given Walmart that $4, those washcloths have saved 6 years’ worth of paper towels and napkins from the landfills.