A new series demystifying climate trade-offs – and the most meaningful changes you can make today.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the lives of nearly every person on the planet. And for better or worse, the massive, rapid shift in daily habits reverberated throughout our entire global network.
We can look at the Joro community as a case study.
At the height of lockdown in July of 2020, gas stations and airlines were not part of the top 20 transactions people were making. Instead, we spent our money on things we use at home, like groceries, basic shopping necessities, and online streaming services.
Now, what happens when we fast-forward a year? With fewer pandemic restrictions and many people fully vaccinated, we’re spending more time away from home. And our shopping habits reflect it.
This July, gas stations and airlines accounted for six of Joro users’ top twenty transactions. Transportation makes up a fifth of global emissions, so a shift in consumption like this matters when it happens at a massive scale.
When we reframe the climate crisis as a collective challenge, it’s clear: our habits add up. And as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s important to stay mindful of our cumulative impact.
But as a person who lives in a society that still relies on fossil fuels, it can be hard to understand which daily choices matter most.
Joro’s Field Guide to Lighter Livingis here to help. This mini-seriesoffers an easy-to-follow framework to think about how to build sustainability into your post-COVID lifestyle.
In our first installment, we’ll introduce three key principles to help guide your climate journey. Then, we’ll take a look at the high-impact, low-effort actions you take today to align your lifestyle with your values.
The Framework: 3 Guiding Principles for Lifestyle Change
Living lighter is all about climate trade-offs – that is, replacing high-carbon habits with ones that are better for the planet. The highest-impact lifestyle changes will align with three guiding principles:
Decarbonizing your spending;
Shifting off fossil fuels; and
Creating a just, sustainable future.
You can treat these principles as a framework for the sustainable decisions that matter most. Here’s why they’re so important:
1. Decarbonizing Your Spending
Each of us, on average in the US, emits enough to fill a shipping container every day. (The volume of a shipping container is about 30 m3 – the volume of ~55 kg CO2, the daily footprint of the average American.) To put that into perspective, we’d need over 15,000 of the largest modern cargo ships to carry a single day of our cumulative emissions.
Small choices about how we travel, shop, power our homes, and eat may seem insignificant; but together, our household consumption powers over 65% of global emissions. Fortunately, we have the most immediate control over how we spend our money. This makes decarbonizing our spending one of our biggest levers for impact.
We can make choices to buy less, switch to more sustainable products and services for things we need, and pay for carbon removal to compensate for emissions we can’t avoid. (Joro’s Net Zero Membership is a great place to start.)
Ask Yourself: “Does this purchase help reduce my carbon footprint compared to other options?”
2. Shifting Off Fossil Fuels
The most recent IPCC report sends the message loud and clear: we need to rapidly reverse our dependence on fossil fuels. To do so, we’ll need to radically reshape society at every level. And it won’t happen overnight.
We need to demand local, national, and global progress towards a fossil-free future. We also need to take immediate action to shift off fossil fuels in three key areas where we all generally rely on fossil fuels, as quickly as we can: how we travel (shifting off gasoline), how we power our homes and workplaces (switching to clean and renewable energy), and where we save and invest our money (avoiding investing in fossil fuels).
Ask Yourself: “Does this action help me shift off fossil fuels, and encourage others to do the same?”
3. Supporting a Just and Sustainable Future.
We must achieve net-zero by 2050 to prevent the most catastrophic climate outcomes. But how we get there matters.
Achieving a just, sustainable future in which all life can thrive will require us to live in more moderate, regenerative ways. This means looking beyond our personal emissions, and considering whether our choices uphold or dismantle broader systems of exploitation and extraction.
Ask Yourself: “Does this action help support the kind of future that all people and life forms can enjoy and thrive in?”
The Climate To-Do List: High-Impact Trade-Offs You Can Make Today
The climate crisis is the challenge of our lifetimes, and it’s easy to get frozen in the starting gates. Everything needs to change. So, how do you determine which changes to make first?
This climate to-do list will help guide you down the path to lighter living. In it, we highlight a few high-impact actions you can take to support a just and sustainable future.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some meaningful changes you can make today.
1. Act Now: Decarbonize Your Spending
Decarbonizing your spending can be difficult — it requires time, effort, and emotional energy. Joro helps you track the relative emissions of everything you buy and create a personalized plan to reduce your impact.
But living in a high-carbon society means there are some emissions we can’t avoid. With Joro’s Net Zero Membership, you can automatically offset the emissions you can’t control on an ongoing basis. As a member, you’ll support a curated basket of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) projects like reforestation, regenerative farming, and bio-oil sequestration.
Each month, you’ll receive a breakdown of your carbon footprint and personalized tips for living lighter. Then, make meaningful lifestyle changes to reduce your carbon footprint – and your subscription fee!
Regular people can’t bear the burden of shifting off fossil fuels alone. We need governments and industries to establish a global green energy grid, decarbonize the transportation sector, end fossil fuel financing, and so much more.
But every bit of carbon savings matters, and there are actions you can take today to reduce your personal dependence on fossil fuels.
Green Your Finances: Close your accounts with banks that fund fossil fuel expansion and take a look at how your savings, investments, and retirement plan might be funding fossil fuels. Read our guide to green finances to get started divesting.
Green Your Energy Use: The power we use to light and heat our homes and the gas we use to fuel our travel are the two most direct places our actions contribute to the demand for fossil fuels. Learn how to reduce your household carbon footprint and commit to making one manageable change each week.
Green Your Commute: For many of us, heading back to work and school means more time behind the wheel. Shifting to a greener vehicle can help keep your footprint low. Understand your options with this guide to hybrids and electric vehicles.
You may feel like you have limited influence as a single person. But our voices and choices are powerful when we share a unified goal. That’s why it’s essential we demand companies and policy-makers build equity and inclusion into climate solutions.
Join an Ongoing Effort: Collective climate action can ripple outward and change the world. Our guide to community climate action unpacks how to get involved with activist groups and environmental nonprofits to demand sweeping policy change
Bring Climate Action to Work: You don’t have to switch employers to make your job a climate job. Read our guide to workplace climate action for dozens of ways to clock in for the planet.
Support Climate Candidates: So far, just 17% of COVID-19 recovery funds are allocated to environmentally positive measures.We need climate candidates at every level of politics pushing to build back better.Joro’s guide to a green recovery shows you how you can support the cause.
Speak Up!: Research shows that most Americans believe in climate change, but are reluctant to talk about it. Break the silence and challenge yourself to start meaningful conversations with the people you care about. We’ve got five steps to get you started.
Our society isn’t set up to make it easy to be sustainable. But Joro’s Field Guide to Lighter Living is here to make it less complicated.
Follow along as we cover how to decarbonize your lifestyle where it matters most: at home, food, travel, shopping, and your personal finances. Throughout five installments, we’ll provide concrete steps and high-impact actions that help you put lighter living on autopilot.
Up next: Money makes the world go ‘round. We’ll show you how to make yours greener.
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A climate action practice is the daily exercise of bringing awareness and intention to reduce the carbon emissions within your control.
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