50 Things You Can Do to Address Climate Change

rain barrel and plants picture

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released its latest report, issuing a “code red for humanity” by their own description. For the past 50 years, The Conservation Foundation, through preserving and restoring natural lands, has been helping mitigate the negative impacts of climate change locally.


What about climate adaptation? We are too late to abate all the negative consequences of a warming planet. No matter how fast we turn the wheel, this ship is going to hit a bit of the iceberg ahead. But, the work we do at The Conservation Foundation has the added benefit of making our communities more resilient and able to absorb and adapt to these impacts.


But what can the average person do? Climate change might seem like a problem too large for you as an individual to make any significant difference. But in truth, all of our individual efforts combine to make a HUGE collective difference, and they are a vital piece of a global mitigation strategy. We each must do our part!


This year, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we’ll be sharing one tip each week on what we all can do to address the climate crisis, and by the end of the year we’ll have 50+ tips put together that we each can put into practice. Visit this page weekly for a fresh tip to be part of the solution to climate change!


Climate Change Tip #1 – Education: Let’s start with the basics! Do you remember learning about the greenhouse effect in science class? If that was a long time ago, we’ve got you. Here’s a great article to refresh your memory and grasp the fundamentals of why the planet is getting warmer and the impact that has.


Climate Change Tip #2 – Education: We talk a lot about reducing our climate footprint. But how do you know how big your footprint is right now? Get a baseline by taking this quiz. It will show you how many Earths it would require if everyone on Earth lived like you. Spoiler – it probably won’t be good, but don’t be discouraged! We’ve got some solutions, and we’re posting them every week. 😃


Climate Change Tip #3 – Food Security: Support your local farmer – the shorter the distance your food has to travel, the less energy consumed before it gets to you. Look no further than our Green Earth Harvest farmshare program for fresh, organic produce right in your neighborhood! A few summer shares are still available, claim yours today!


Shorten Your Food Chain Infographic


Climate Change Tip #4 – Carbon Capture: Sure, your lawn is buried under a pile of snow, but that makes it the perfect time to plan! This spring, how do you want to update your landscape to be a part of the local ecosystem? Let’s be intentional and mindful of carbon capture potential of native plants, storm water retention, chemical use, and more. It will reduce your footprint and make our communities more resilient! Seed catalogs are coming out, nurseries are starting to post inventory, and if you need some inspiration on refreshing your garden, look no further! Have questions or ideas you’d like to share? Post them in the comments.


trees infographic


Climate Change Tip #5 – Education: Let’s make sure we’re raising the next generation of environmental stewards and arming them with an understanding of climate change, a love for nature, and a respect for local ecosystems! We love Climate Kids at Nasa for online resources, and offer fabulous kids camps at our farms in Naperville and Montgomery. Registration is now open!


Climate Change Tip #6 – Education: Doesn’t this weather make you want to cozy up with a book? Commit to reading a book this year about the climate crisis. Here’s a list. Do you have recommendations? Post them in the comments!


Climate Change Tip #7 – Emissions Reduction: Rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle – everything we buy and use comes from the land and ultimately returns back to the land (even if in a different form). We are in the business of protecting land. This includes being aware of making efficient use of the land and the resources that live below and above. The waste we produce – whether put in a landfill, disposed of some other way, or even recycled – all create additional emissions. The best way to truly reduce emissions is to consume less – rethink and refuse.


Climate Change Tip #8 – Emissions Reduction: The trails through our forest preserves make active transportation possible by connecting a network for biking and walking! Reduce your vehicle miles traveled and get your daily exercise by replacing a few car trips with walking or biking. Google Maps will give you great guidance on how to get somewhere walking/rolling, or check out the many trail system maps on Ride Illinois’ website.


Climate Change Tip #9 – Food Security: Try meatless Monday to reduce your carbon footprint. Meat, like beef and lamb, take up a lot of land to graze. That land may be needed for reforestation/carbon sequestration in the future. Then take into account the emissions from the livestock (cow toots!), the fertilizer and food required to feed them, and the transportation costs of getting them from pasture, to processing, to the store, to your table. Simply cutting a bit of red meat from your diet makes a huge difference!


eat less meat graphic


Climate Change Tip #10 – Carbon Capture: Plant a tree! Such a simple thing you’ve probably heard on repeat since you brought a sapling home from school for Arbor Day in third grade.


Climate Change Tip #11 – Emissions Reduction: Methane is four times more potent than carbon dioxide, and one of the largest sources of methane is landfills. We can each do our part to reduce these emissions by keeping organic matter (food and yard waste) out of the landfills. How? Compost! Whether using a backyard composter, a compact kitchen composter, or vermicomposting, there are many ways to tackle this emissions source that can fit in with your lifestyle. Bonus: You get free and natural fertilizer for your plants!


Climate Change Tip #12 – Water Security: Global warming has also been coined “global weirding” and we’re going to continue to see different rain trends in our future. Capturing rain water through a rain barrel will give you a supply of water to use on your landscaping when conditions are dry and will also help alleviate flooding during heavy rains. Rain barrels also alleviate usage of groundwater so we have more clean, safe groundwater for the future.


Climate Change Tip #13 – Carbon Capture: Wetlands capture and store (for a very long time) a tremendous amount of carbon. Not to mention the incredible biodiversity they support and invaluable role they play in improving/protecting water quality. Our region was once rich in wetlands. Now, there are fewer protected wetlands, meaning the wetland areas we do have are even more valuable. Follow The Wetlands Initiative to learn more about this vital local resource!


Climate Change Tip #14 – Water Security: Show your local rivers and streams some love this year! The DuPage River Sweep is on Saturday, May 21st. “The impacts of climate change will hit rivers and river communities first and worst, in the form of increased droughts, floods, and waterborne diseases. Along with decreasing global warming pollution, protecting and restoring rivers must be part of the solution. Healthy rivers boost community safety and security, building resilience against these impacts and helping communities thrive in the face of a changing climate.” –American Rivers


Climate Change Tip #15 – Water Security: You’ve probably heard about or visited Chicago City Hall’s green roof, or had the opportunity to see other green roofs during your travels. Green roofs play an important role in storm water management, especially in areas where the amount of permeable land needed for infiltration of run-off is limited or not an option, or when you’d like to infiltrate more run-off from your property. A typical 1,000 square foot roof generates over 600 gallons of water with just 1 inch of rainfall, so infiltrating roof run-off is important. Want to see one in person (without going downtown Chicago?) Come see the Milk House at The Conservation Foundation’s headquarters in Naperville! Call anytime to schedule a visit.


Milk House picture


Climate Change Tip #16 – Nature-Based Solutions: Parklets – turn a parking spot into a tiny park! That little bit of land can be a lot more productive than just hosting a single car all day. Make more beautiful public space that more people can use and reduce the heat island effect while you’re at it! We know Batavia, Yorkville, Aurora, and Elmhurst have parklet ordinances – does your city?


parklet picture


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