In Florida, where we are particularly susceptible to hurricanes, which supposedly are going to keep getting more Katrina-like if the climate keeps changing, I think it is particularly important to make small changes to keep that from happening. But of course, it's important everywhere... I think this should be a summer of change for everyone, a time for everyone to get more conscious of what they can do to improve the world we all live in through small changes.
Here's 10 things I just came up with off the top of my head that everyone can do to improve the whole world:
1. Dry laundry on a clothesline instead of in a dryer.
2. Plant a small vegetable garden. You can start with a single potted tomato plant on a balcony, or even as much as a 10 x 10 plot in your yard. That small a space will be manageable and totally doable for just about anyone.
3. Buy organic and/or locally produced meat and dairy whenever you possibly can.
4. Buy organic and/or locally produced vegetables and fruit whenever you possibly can.
5. Plant a tree. Plant two. Plant 400 even... They aren't really that expensive. If you don't have yard you can plant one in or time to plant one yourself, you can always pay to have someone else do it somewhere else. And you can do it as a gift for a friend or relative, that way you don't have to buy them a real present later... That's two birds with one stone, my friends. ;D You can search the web yourself for a charitable organization, or go to Trees For The Future, Trees for Life, Just Give, American Forests, or (the one I'm most familiar with) the Jewish National Fund, which plants trees specifically in Israel, for more information.
6. Ride a bike. Even if it's just to get out of the house instead of taking a five minute drive in your car, ride a bike. Don't have one? Look for them at second-hand stores, and even Walmart. There aren't any bikes made in the USA anymore, I'm sorry to say, except for the very expensive (like $500+) high-end professional-type bikes, so don't feel too guilty about having to buy from China. Even better if you can ride it to the grocery store, work or school.
7. Watch that thermostat! Turn up the thermostat in the summer, turn it down in the winter, or turn it off and open your windows in the summer, and keep it low and seal your home in the winter (especially in Florida, it doesn't get that cold, you don't really need the heat turned on most of the time!). Assuming that the air-quality outside isn't pitiful and there's a decent cross-breeze, opening the windows should keep your home comfortable during much of the summer. You can at least experiment with turning the air conditioner down a degree or two this summer and see what happens.
8. Stay informed. Being informed about what's going on with the environment is the first step to really being in a position to change things for the better. Search the web and sign up for e-mail notifications from different environmental organizations that interest you, such as World Wildlife Fund, The Conservation Society, The Sierra Club, Greenpeace and many others.
9. Be aware. Don't shut your ears just because it's more comfortable now not to hear about it. It's much better than living it later.
10. Tell others. Making others aware of problems and what they can do to help is the next most important thing you can do.