Think recycling is enough? Think again.
If you care about the environment or practicing sustainable living, there are some planet-friendly actions you’re probably taking. You may be trying to go zero waste; you’re probably learning how to recycle more effectively and taking steps to reduce your food and single-use waste. But is it enough? How can you know how much of an impact you’re making? A new quiz has the answers—but you may not like them.
The quiz comes from CNN and is based on ways to stop climate change as ranked by Project Drawdown, a top resource for climate solutions. The quiz is surprisingly difficult—several Real Simple editors tried and failed to prove their sustainability savvy—but, more jarringly, it reveals how little most people know about what it’ll take to save the planet and what’s contributing to climate change the most.
The quiz is definitely worth taking, especially if you want an internet quiz reality check, but its conclusion is helpful even if you don’t participate. According to Project Drawdown, there are five top solutions for curbing climate change, and the majority are actions individuals (aka you) can take—though they’re not the obvious solutions you may be thinking of.
The number one solution is managing refrigeration chemicals. Apparently, our refrigerators and A/C units (two of the greatest and most-used inventions out there) use chemicals (or refrigerants) that trap much, much more heat in our atmosphere than commonly blamed carbon dioxide does. Trapping those fridge- and A/C-produced greenhouse gases would do more to prevent global warming than any other action and would have the equivalent impact of taking 629 million cars off the road.
The other top solutions are a little more obvious: installing onshore wind turbines, cutting down on food waste, eating more plants and less meat, and restoring tropical forests. We, as individuals, can help reduce refrigerants, reduce food waste, and move toward a more plant-based diet. Those other top solutions must come from industries and policymakers, but they’re things voters and consumers can push for. If you want to read about more solutions, you can see Project Drawdown’s full ranking here.
Other solutions to climate change discussed in the quiz are much more subtle, but understanding what they are—and how we can use or push for them—can help make the path to a healthier planet much clearer. This writer got 30 percent of the quiz right on her first try; if you can beat that, you’re already well on your way (take the quiz here to find out).