Climate change is a growing problem, and unfortunately there is no way to reverse its effects on our planet. There are some things we can do to help mitigate the damage a bit, however, so it’s important for everyone to be educated about what climate change really is and how it affects the world around us. Because it’s a complicated issue that has moral and political ramifications, the topic is a difficult one to broach with just anyone.

As both a vegan and a traveler, you experience the world in a unique way, so it makes sense that the ways in which you can help fight back against climate change would be unique too. You can help the people in your community and around the globe learn more about these dangerous changes–and how to help stop them from growing even larger–by spreading information and citing credible sources. You can also make some changes of your own by becoming more eco-friendly in your travels and making better choices altogether.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions where climate change is concerned.

How does it differ from weather?

Weather patterns will continue to be their own force around the planet, just as they have for centuries. There will still be cold winters and ice storms. However, climate change means that the Earth is getting warmer gradually due to trapped greenhouse gases–including carbon dioxide–in the atmosphere. These gases have been around for a long time, and without them, our planet would be too cold to inhabit. When the gases are in too high a concentration, the planet warms up. It’s been slowly happening since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and as we burn more fossil fuels, create more waste, and cut down more trees (which store carbon dioxide and release it into the atmosphere when they are cut down), we are contributing to the gradual warming of our planet.

What are the negative effects of climate change?

Unfortunately, because those greenhouse gases have been released into the atmosphere at a growing rate for many years, we are already seeing the effects of climate change. A number of plants and animals are in danger of becoming extinct due to the melting of glaciers; winters are slowly becoming warmer around the globe, meaning more rain, which contributes to flooding and devastating storms. Unfortunately, it will only get worse if we don’t make massive changes very soon.

What can I do to help?

There are many ways you can help mitigate the damage of climate change and global warming in your travels:

  • Before you book your travel, research hotels, airlines, and other accommodations to get a better understanding of their sustainability initiatives. Take a moment to check out their certifications (if any) too.
  • Use transportation responsibly: walk, bike, or use public transportation whenever possible. If renting a car is necessary, opt for a hybrid option.
  • Shop locally, whether locally refers to your hometown or your current travel destination. The more you buy online–no matter how convenient it is–the more you’re helping to contribute to emissions from delivery trucks.
  • While you already know the best places to get your vegan favorites locally, traveling will require a little extra effort. Use tools like HappyCow to find vegan dining spots and health food stores, or cook your own simple meals using local produce and staples.
  • If language is a barrier, use Google Translate or The Vegan Passport to convey your dietary needs and ask for suggestions.
  • While you are traveling and discovering new places, why not give back with a little volunteer work? Even if your travels are just taking you to the next state over, you can use helpful tools such as Volunteer Match to find opportunities near your location.

There are ways you can help from the comfort of home too:

  • Plant some trees. You can make this a neighborhood challenge; talk to the members of your community to see how many people would be interested in planting trees, especially in areas of new development where plant life has been cut down.
  • If you already have your own vegetable garden with all your favorite vegan ingredients, make your home even more environmentally-friendly by creating a compost station or collecting rainwater. Small changes make a world of difference such as changing out your light bulbs for more energy efficient ones, making sure your home is well insulated, turning off the lights in a room before leaving, installing low-flow toilets and shower heads, and investing in solar panels and smart thermostats.
  • Hold a fundraiser in your neighborhood and get as many people involved as possible. Print up fliers and hand out leaflets with information about climate change. Use this as an opportunity to educate others about the positive environmental impact of veganism. Design some t-shirts that can be handed out to volunteers to help spread the message.

Climate change is here to stay, unfortunately, but there are ways to make a difference as you travel and explore. Research sustainable travel options, find ways to support and supplement your vegan diet, and give back to others by volunteering. During your downtime,  start a garden, plant some trees, reduce your carbon footprint, and educate others about climate change and the health and environmental benefits of veganism. These are all great ways to start, putting a small but helpful dent in the global initiative so save our planet.

Photo via Pixabay by Viktoriya