Changing the world begins
with changing habits
Save your energy
Yes, we’re starting with the humble lightbulb. That’s because the average 60-watt incandescent bulb wastes 90% of its energy as heat. In comparison, an LED bulb is up to 80% more energy efficient and can last up to 25,000 hours.
According to the US Energy Department, “switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the US $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50% and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions.”
Switch your lights off
Fogetting to switch off the lights is no small thing.
In the UK alone, research shows 6.5 million people regularly leave lights switched on when leaving a room, wasting £15 million and 37,000 tons of carbon emissions each day. That’s the same as flying around the world 62 times, every single day.
Go a step further by switching off other electricity-sapping appliances when you leave the house. Your laptop, WiFi router, printer, gaming consoles, TV, stereo equipment and cable box use a lot of power in standby mode. Turning them off can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
One of the easiest ways you can reduce your energy use is to buy energy-efficient fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, televisions and other appliances. In the EU, you can refer to the Energy Label.
The most energy-efficient products are ranked as A+++. Fridges are usually the second biggest energy consumer in the typical EU home, costing around 13% of your energy bill. Choosing an A+++ product versus A can make a huge difference
in your wallet and for the planet. For those who live in areas with very limited electricity, energy efficient appliances can make all the difference.
Whether you rent or own your own home, one of the best ways to save energy and money is to make sure the power you use isn’t wasted. Whether its through your roof, walls, doors or windows; it’s always worth insulating if you can. According to the Energy Savings Trust around 22% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from our homes, its a similar picture in the US and elsewhere too; so tackling climate change really does start at home.
Treat water with love
Wash clothes in cold or 30C° water
Water is one of the most precious resources on earth. Clean, fresh water is becoming every more scarce, so lets treat it with care. Eco modes on your washing machine and dishwasher can save 20–30% of energy compared to higher temperature washes, and use less water. Wash one large load of laundry instead of two small ones.
If you have a garden, collect rainwater
It’s possible for almost everyone to save rainwater by placing a bucket in the garden or on your balcony.
If you want to take it a step further, learn how to create your own rain barrels for harvesting larger amounts of water throughout the year.
Install a shower water recovery system
So-called “grey-water” recovery systems collect, filter, and redistribute water from showers (and even dishwashers and laundry machines) to toilets, which greatly reduces water consumption.
Though they have an upfront cost, smaller, more affordable systems are available for a few hundred dollars, and can recoup their cost within a couple of years.
Even if your household water bill is not high, using such a system helps reduce the strain on your local water infrastructure, which, in the long run, saves energy.
Use seasonal ingredients when you cook
If you’re in the USA, use this handy guide to find what is in season in your region. For many countries, you can find seasonal food calendars by searching “Seasonal Food Guide + your country.”
Looking for more ways to creatively use and prep food by the season? Find more tips for seasonal eating here.
Pick “plant-based” days
The production of animal food products comes with a heavy price tag for the
planet. Plant-based foods, on the other hand, can reduce carbon emissions by 10–50 times.
Picking a few “plant-based” days per week can make a real difference while still being a manageable shift. If you eventually want to have a completely vegan diet, starting slow is the best way to ensure long-term success.
Reduce food waste
In the US alone, 30% of all food is thrown away each year. Growing food is generally very energy intensive and increasingly expensive, so only buy and prepare food you know you’ll eat. You could save yourself a fair amount of cash in the long run. Of course, you can always grow your own fruit and veg too.
Make, mend, share & reuse
Wear with care by repairing and reusing clothes
If sewing is out of your current skill-set, consider using a tailor to repair instead of just buying a new item of clothing. Hiring someone to fit or fix your old clothes is less expensive than buying new, and saves another item from the landfill. The same goes for furniture and other household items.
Buy upcycled & share
Look for local shops, swaps and markets that specialise in upcycled items. Check out #UpcycleFashion for inspiration. Not only is this a smart way to reduce your carbon footprint, it tends to be the affordable option too.
Many local communities have social media groups for sharing the things we don’t use every day from cars to lawnmowers. Doing this might mean you meet the neighbours too.
Avoid using plastic
These seven tips will help you reduce your plastic waste every day:
- Carry a reusable water bottle.
- Invest in a reusable coffee cup.
- Use compostable, or metal cutlery when getting a takeaway or organising your next picnic.
- Switch to paper or metal straws.
- Use loose-leaf tea instead of individually-packed teabags.
- Invest in reusable wax wrap for leftovers, instead of clingfilm. There are vegan wax wrap options, too.
- Bring your own cloth shopping bags and reusable containers to the grocery shop, bakery, and produce market.
Travel by foot, bike or train
Take public transport, cycle or walk instead of driving
In the US, transportation is responsible for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions. Taking the bus, cycling to work and encouraging kids to walk short distances to school are all simple and effective ways to work towards a greener future.
Use trains instead of short-haul flights
We all know planes are bad for the environment, so it’s great to see slow travel gathering pace. Trains are seeing somewhat of a renaissance as we turn to a more gentle, romantic form of travel.
Use EcoPassenger to calculate the difference in CO₂ emissions between flights, cars, and trains when planning your next trip.
Power your home
Use a renewable energy supplier
Powering your home with renewable energy is the single largest impact you
can have on preventing climate change as energy accounts for over 70% of carbon dioxide emissions.
Whether you rent or own your home, you can switch to a power provider supplying renewable energy. Look for green energy utilities in your area and compare their green electricity and green gas percentages.
Be careful when switching to a new supplier, some supply 100% renewables, and some much less.
If you own your own home and your house is suitable for solar panels then generating your very own clean energy is the way to go. With solar power more affordable than ever, just search for your local solar installer and ask them for a home survey and quote.
Consume from and invest
in clean companies
Support companies that are powered by renewables
Companies can be slow to change, but they do listen when consumers speak up. Use your money to support companies that have committed to going 100% renewable, such as RE100 members. Many of these and smaller organisations are already there.
Switch to sustainable banking and investments
You may not give much thought to how your bank, investments or pension contributes to fossil fuel extraction, but many financial institutions still invest your money in fossil fuels rather than in the clean, electrified future offered by renewables. Get up to speed on where you bank is with Bank Track, and find out if your pension is on the right side of history with Share Action.
Put pressure on your bank to divest, move your money to forward-thinking institutions, and how to invest in solar as an individual.
Support solar nonprofits
There are many non-profit organizations working hard to democratize clean energy access with solar and to reach the 800 million still living without reliable electricity worldwide, including Little Sun. You can support us with a donation.
Help make sure that no one is left behind as we create our solar world.
You may find community groups in your local area that help to power low income households and schools with solar, or advocate for renewables to policymakers.
You can support their efforts with individual donations or as a volunteer. Or, go a step further and start working for one. Afterall, where you place your energy each day makes a huge difference to the world.
your family and community
Share Reach for the Sun on social media
Follow us on @littlesunenergy (Instagram) @ilovelittlesun (Facebook) @LittleSun (Twitter) and share our content with our digital toolkit.
Write to your elected officials
Express your passion for solar with those in power.
Clearly outline the benefits of solar and why they should support it.
Here’s a letter you can send.
Your City, State, Zip Code
Country (if different from theirs)
Your Phone Number
Politician’s Title and Full Name
Politician’s City, State, Zip Code
Country (if different from yours)
Dear (insert representative’s title and full name),
I am writing to express my concerns about the crisis our planet is facing due to the climate crisis. Thankfully there is a clear, accessible path forward: investing in renewable energy.
I ask you to commit to:
- Divesting from fossil fuels
- Not subsidising or investing in any new fossil fuel projects
- Investing in solar and other renewables immediately
Research suggests that solar power could fulfill 70% of the world’s energy needs by 2040, and 22 million people could be employed by solar businesses by 2040 . Solar is constantly available, versatile, and inexpensive. Investing in solar would create jobs and help steer us away from irreversible damage caused by climate change spurred on by the use of fossil fuels.
Carbon emissions are one of the most dangerous – and costly – threats to our climate. Extreme weather events are already costing billions of dollars around the world and future warming could cost $54 trillion (US dollars) .
We cannot afford to waste more time. Reducing emissions by 2050 is simply too late; we must act now to reduce emissions to zero by 2040 if we are going to make a meaningful difference.
(“I care about this because…” If you can provide a specific example about how climate change has affected your life, this is the place to include it! The more specific you can be, the better, ideally in 50–100 words pertaining to your own town/region/state/country.)
I look forward to hearing from you.
(Insert full name)
 Energy Watch Group / LUT, Global Energy System Based on 100% Renewable Energy, 2019
 Moody’s Analytics, The Economic Implications of Climate Change, 2019
Although individual choices are significant, we need policy action on a wider scale to curb climate change and transition to 100% renewables by 2040. We need our politicians to listen. We need you to vote for solar.
Look for politicians in your local, state and national governments who support Green New Deal style policies. You can read about the Green New Deal and some specific proposed measures here.
Cities like Barcelona, Frankfurt, Geneva and Malmö are already on their way to being powered by renewables thanks to public interest and forward-thinking leaders. Make sure your representatives are on the right side of history.
Our Reading List
- Adam Vaughan, Fix the Planet – The New Scientist
- Alice Bell, Our Biggest Experiment
- Amory Lovins, A 40-year plan for energy
- Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson, All We Can Save
- Bill McKibben, Do the Math
- Clean Creatives
- David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years
- David Harvey, The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism
- David Remnick and Henry Finder, The Fragile Earth
- Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
- Elke Weber ‘Evidence-Based and Description-Based Perceptions of Long-Term Risk’
- Greta Thunberg, No one is too small to make a difference.
- Jeremy Leggett, The Solar Century
- Jeremy Leggett, The Energy of Nations
- Jeremy Rifkin, The Third Industrial Revolution
- Jonathan Porritt, The World We Made
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Global Warming of 1.5°C, Summary for Policymakers. Switzerland: IPCC. October 2018.
- Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics
- Keith Hart, The Memory Bank
- Manuel Lima, The Power of Networks
- Margaret Atwood, It’s Not Climate Change – It’s Everything Change
- Popova, Maria. ‘Hope, Cynicism, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves’. Brain Pickings. 9 Feb 2015
- Mary Robinson, Climate Justice
- Mike Berners-Lee, How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything
- Neal Lawson, The Bridge
- Nick Davies, Flat Earth News
- Ross Gay, Book of Delights
- Rebecca Solnit, ‘Woolf’s Darkness’. The New Yorker
- Rebecca Solnit. ‘Falling Together ’. On Being . Krista Tippet (podcast host).
- Rebecca Solnit. Hope in the Dark. Chicago: Haymarket Books.
- Rebecca Solnit. ‘Call Climate Change What It Is: Violence’.
- Solar Power Europe, 100% Renewable Energy Europe
- Solarcentury, Climate Chaos & The Energy Transition
- Studio Olafur Eliasson, Research Map
- The Story of the Line
- Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century
- Tim Jackson, Prosperity without Growth
- Tony Juniper, What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?
- Viviana Zelizer, Economic Lives
- Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Life, Liquid Modernity
With thanks to Studio Olafur Eliasson, Mike Townsend and the Earthshine Group team for their valuable feedback and support in compiling these resources.