Global warming, as reported by the United Nations, is wreaking havoc around the world with extreme temperatures, wildfires, flooding, and drought and time is running out to avoid worldwide “catastrophic disruptions”. Although it may feel like there is little that one person or family can do in the face of the overwhelming challenges around climate change, there are steps that everyone can take to preserve the planet for future generations.
According to a recent Forbes Retirement post, older adults can help provide eco-friendly leadership and experience within their communities. If you or a elder family member is looking for a way to make a valuable contribution, fighting climate change is a worthy mission. Although the climate crisis we are facing today is a result of decades of practices that harmed the environment, there are still many actions in our daily lives that can have a positive impact.
Some of the shifts in lifestyle that benefit the planet also have health and financial benefits for older adults. Eating less meat and consuming more locally-grown fruits and vegetables not only reduces environmental toxins, but a more plant-based diet can also lead to cost savings, weight loss, and more nutrient-rich meals. Seniors may even find they save on medication and healthcare expenses by eating a healthier, more locally sourced diet.
Using public transportation, walking, or cycling more can also help combat global warming. Not only will driving less save money on gas and vehicle maintenance but slowing down a bit provides an opportunity for more social interaction and physical activity. It may take a little longer to run errands, but often the journey is its own reward.
If downsizing from a large home in the suburbs has been on your mind, a smaller home with lower taxes, that uses less energy and is more walkable or has greater access to public transportation can be a win/win for older adults. For those planning to age in place, converting some lawn space to a vegetable garden, installing solar panels, or reducing the number of vehicles in your household can help make a difference in the climate change battle. Perhaps the next vehicle will be a hybrid or electric?
For older adults who live alone, home sharing in retirement is becoming more popular. Not only are housing and utility costs shared – saving money, but seniors can benefit from the company and support system of living with a friend or family member. With a smaller ecological footprint, home sharing can be a great solution for a budget-friendly “green retirement”.
Read more about climate action for a greying world in a recent article published in the journal of the Gerontological Society of America.