Idea #2: Divest from fossil fuels

This is a post for people with investments in the stock market.

I must preface this by insisting that I know very little about investing. The concept of investing makes sense to me—if you have leftover income, you may as well put it to use—but I get a bit overwhelmed by the details. Buying stocks in individual companies would involve way too much research, and it’s risky from the standpoint of portfolio diversity. Instead, I like to use index funds.

Unfortunately, with index funds it’s easy to gloss over some important details. I had used one for years before it suddenly occurred to me to wonder exactly which companies I was funding. I discovered, alas!, that I had unwittingly given thousands of dollars to fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

The good news is, correcting this mistake is a one-time fix. Divest from fossil fuels, reinvest somewhere else, and you never have to think about it again. Many online tools, in particular Fossil Free Funds, can help find alternative places to put your money. Take a look at their ratings for my old 500 index fund versus these many alternatives at the same investment company.

Idea #1: Dry your hands using your clothes

Paper towel dispensers are somewhat puzzling to me.

At home, everyone dries their hands using towels. In public restrooms, public towels wouldn’t be sanitary, so we use paper towels instead. But . . . why? Paper towels are scratchy and uncomfortable, and there’s a convenient and delightfully soft alternative within easy arm’s reach: your own clothing.

I don’t remember exactly when this idea occurred to me, but it’s been years since I last used a paper towel in a public restroom. You might object that your clothes could be unsanitary, or your hands might quite not be clean, or—the most compelling concern—you don’t want to walk around with wet splotches on your clothes. But for daily use, in comparison with the time, comfort, and paper you’ll save, these concerns are quite minor. Trust me, the wet splotches disappear within minutes.

Alternative idea: give your hands a good shake and let them air-dry. Either way, it saves paper. Not much, but every bit helps.

Hello World

My name is Nathan. This is my first blog post.

I’m just a normal guy, feeling a normal amount of existential dread about the future of planet Earth.

I hear a lot of people say that, as individuals, there’s not much we can do about climate change. It’s a problem with capitalism; it’s a problem with other people in other countries; it’s a problem for national governments to solve. And maybe that’s true.

But for the sake of my own sanity, over the past several years, I’ve been trying to do what I can to reduce my individual impact on the ecosystem. Each season (fall, winter, spring, summer), I try to find one new way to reduce my carbon footprint, even if it’s only a minor change. This calms me. And I can’t quite shake the hope that maybe, if all of us make a few little changes, together we can make great changes.

This winter, I decided to start a blog to catalog these little lifestyle changes that I’ve tried. Maybe one of them will inspire you.

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