The growing number of small and single-person households is creating huge climate problems. Researcher Jan Kooijman says this is because each household needs many essential items that would otherwise be shared. These range from disposable items, like toothpaste, to larger items, like TVs and furniture. The production of each item releases greenhouse gases into the air.

We mean well, but many of the things we try to do right don’t have much effect on the climate. Kooijman says that while recycling helps, using water wisely, walking, taking public transportation instead of driving, and turning off electricity are all much more important. For instance, if you use your car to take empty bottles and cans back to the grocery store for recycling, you’ve wasted more energy than you’ve saved. Permanently lowering the room temperature two degrees saves as much energy as most people use in the form of bottles, cans and papers for an entire year. Switching from a SUV to a sedan can save as much energy as 400 years of bottle recycling.

However, it should be noted that the study was financed by the packaging industry.

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