10 facts about climate change that changed my life

A little refresher: Soapbox Project was founded by Nivi Achanta (hey, that's me) as a side project in 2019.

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I'm not an environmental scientist. I'm not a policy expert. When I started Soapbox, I was using it as a reprieve from my busy, non-impactful tech consulting job. My too-long days kept me from being involved in things I cared about like climate change, education, and homelessness.

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Why? Because it took TOO DAMN LONG to learn + do something about these issues. There was no way for me to quickly get up to speed and take action.

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When I started Soapbox in 2019, I barely knew anything about climate change. I thought I did. I thought I could reduce, reuse, and recycle my way to a better planet. I know better now, so I want to share it with you!

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The point of this article is to show you that:

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"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter."ย - Meghan Mehta, Google

10 facts (and myths and lies) about climate change

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  1. โ™ป๏ธ Recycling is a scam invented by Big Oil.

    This was a sucker punch to the memory of seven-year-old Nivi who made her parents buy a blue recycling bin and put all papers and plastic in there. Recycling was always meant to be a diversion tool to get people to think the environment would be okay. Less than 10% of plastics get recycled!

    This NPR investigation has everything you need to know. Oil and plastic execs knew that recycling was pretty ineffective, "yet the industry spent millions telling people to recycle, because, as one former top industry insider told NPR, selling recycling sold plastic, even if it wasn't true."

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  1. ๐Ÿ›ข๏ธ Plastic is made from oil (I'm telling you, I didn't know).

    This seems silly to me now, but I genuinely never thought about where plastic came from. This 6-min Nat Geo video explains how plastic is made in 4 steps.
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  1. ๐Ÿฅ‘ If food waste was a country, it'd be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter.

    I knew that food waste was a problem, but I didn't know it was that big. I also didn't know we might run out of farmable land by 2050.
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  1. ๐Ÿ  In developed countries, ~half of food waste comes from the household.

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    Not only is tackling food waste under our control (most of it actually comes from households in developed countries, not restaurants, etc.), it's also one of the most impactful ways to tackle climate change.

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  1. ๐Ÿ„ The 10 foods with the highest impacts on the environment were ALL cuts of beef.

    Going vegan is one of the highest individual impacts you can have on the environment, but if that sounds like a lot for you, start by cutting out beef!ย Iย had no idea beef was SO bad for the environment -- next time you're looking for a meat dish, go for poultry. If the occasion necessitates beef, go for a cut that's pasture-raised instead of grain-fed.
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  2. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿญ Over 70% of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to just 100 companies.

    When I started sending Changeletter (our free newsletter with bite-sized plans to fight climate change), I was a big believer in individual actions. "If we all come together, we'll make a big difference!" etc.

    I still do believe in individual actions, but my opinion has evolved. We all need to be mindful about our resources, but my perspective on these actions now includes putting pressure on government and corporations (not just eschewing plastic straws, turning off the lights, etc.).

    โ€Companies are the biggest culprits of climate change, and their actions are incentivized by government subsidies and more.

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  1. ๐Ÿšฝ Flushable wipes aren't flushable.

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    We wrote about water pollution in August 2020. Again, I was shocked by how little I knew. It turns out one way we ruin our fresh water supply is by flushing things that can't be flushed, including hair, paper towels, and yes, "flushable" wipes.

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  1. ๐Ÿš€ Drinking water in almost every US state has a key ingredient in rocket fuel.

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    Another shocker about water pollution โ€” we drink SO many chemicals including perchlorate, a dangerous ingredient in rocket fuel. Only California and Massachusetts limit the amount of perchlorate in drinking water and it's been found in the bodies of EVERYONE who's been tested for it. Your utilities company doesn't have to let you know if there's perchlorate in your water!

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  1. ๐ŸŒ“ Race has a stronger effect on exposure to pollutants than poverty.

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    I used to think that polluting industry plants were built in "poor" neighborhoods having no idea what a significant factor race has been, especially in the United States. I learned after reading Color of Law that zoning laws (government-sanctioned!) were literally written to allow toxic waste in Black neighborhoods and not white ones. Environmental racism is real, and it's partially a result of decades-old housing policy created by governments.

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  1. ๐Ÿงบ Doing your laundry in the afternoon can help the earth.

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    I learned that it's not just about how long you use energy, when you use it also matters due to energy supply on the grid. This was a great, easy action to implement at the beginning of COVID and we're still going strong doing laundry/running dishes during daylight hours as best as we can!

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How many of these facts were new to you?ย Email me and let me know!

Fight climate change in a way that works for you.

๐Ÿ’Œ Thinking about sustainability can be overwhelming after a busy workday, so we're here to help. Join over 4,000 other busy people and subscribe to Changeletter, a bite-sized action plan that'll take you 3 minutes or less to read every week.
Take action
Headshot of Ash Borkar (a woman with glasses and a cardigan)
"The info is always timely, actionable, and never stale." - Aishwarya Borkar, Change.org
Headshot of Meghan Mehta speaking at Google with a microphone in her hand
"Making social change always felt so overwhelming until I started reading this newsletter."ย - Meghan Mehta, Google