The Sustainable Development Goals are important, world-changing objectives that will require cooperation among governments, international organizations and world leaders. It seems impossible that the average person can make an impact. Should you just give up?

No! Change starts with you. Seriously. Every human on earth—even the most indifferent, laziest person among us—is part of the solution. Fortunately, there are some easy things we can adopt into our routines that, if we all do it, will make a big difference.

Have a look at just a few of the many things you can do to make an impact!

THINGS YOU CAN DO FROM YOUR COUCH

  • Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip and turning them off completely when not in use, including your computer.
  • Stop paper bank statements and pay your bills online or via mobile.
  • Speak up! Ask your local and national authorities to engage in initiatives that don’t harm people or the planet.
  • Turn off the lights. Your TV or computer screen provides a cosy glow, so turn off other lights if you don’t need them.
  • Do a bit of online research and buy only from companies that you know have sustainable practices and don’t harm the environment.
  • Report online bullies. If you notice harassment on social media, report that person.
  • In addition to the above, offset your remaining carbon emissions! You can calculate your carbon footprint and purchase climate credits from Climate Neutral Now. In this way, you help reduce global emissions faster!

THINGS YOU CAN DO FROM HOME

  • Air dry. Let your hair and clothes dry naturally instead of running a machine. If you do wash your clothes, make sure the load is full.
  • Take short showers. Bathtubs require gallons more water than a 5-10 minute shower.
  • Eat less meat, poultry, and fish. More resources are used to provide meat than plants.
  • Compost—composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients.
  • Recycling paper, plastic, glass & aluminium keeps landfills from growing.
  • Buy minimally packaged or package-free goods.
  • Plug air leaks in windows and doors to increase energy efficiency.
  • Adjust your thermostat.
  • Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models and light bulbs.

THINGS YOU CAN DO IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD

  • Shop local. Supporting neighbourhood businesses keeps people employed and helps prevent trucks from driving far distances.
  • Let your favourite businesses know that ocean-friendly seafood is on your shopping list.
  • Shop only for sustainable seafood. There are now many apps that will tell you what is safe to consume.
  • Bike, walk or take public transport. Save the car trips for when you’ve got a big group.
  • Use a refillable water bottle and coffee cup. Cut down on waste and maybe even save money at the coffee shop.
  • Bring your own bag when you shop. Pass on the plastic bag and start carrying your own reusable totes.
  • Take fewer napkins. You don’t need a handful of napkins to eat your takeout. Take just what you need.
  • Shop vintage. Brand-new isn’t necessarily best. See what you can repurpose from second-hand shops.
  • Donate what you don’t use. Local charities will give your gently used clothes, books and furniture a new life.
  • Take advantage of your right to elect the leaders in your country and local community

THINGS YOU COULD DO AT WORK

  • Give fruits or snacks that you don’t want to someone who needs it and is asking for help.
  • Does everyone at work have access to healthcare? Find out what your rights are to work. Fight against inequality.
  • Mentor young people. It’s a thoughtful, inspiring and a powerful way to guide someone towards a better future.
  • Voice your support for equal pay for equal work.
  • Lend your voice to talk about the lack of toilets in many communities around the world!
  • Make sure your company uses energy-efficient heating and cooling technology.
  • Raise your voice against any type of discrimination in your office. Everyone is equal
    regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, social background and physical abilities.
  • Bike, walk or take public transport to work. Save the car trips for when you’ve got a big group.
  • Organize a No Impact Week at work. Learn to live more sustainably for at least a week.
  • Organize a Nice Plogging at work, a great way to take care of yourself and the planet.

This article is an edited version of the UN SDG Guide.