Go green, plant trees, reduce, reuse and recycle, aim for zero waste, save the bees, save the turtles. … While we’ve heard the same things seemingly on repeat for years now, it is no real secret that we could all brush up on some ways to help protect and restore our planet.
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put it, “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” Meaning, that some of NASA’s best scientists are in agreement that there is compelling evidence for rapid climate change.
It is important to understand mass production in industries is necessary in considering the state of the environment, however, it is equally as important to understand how the individual environmental impact has also led to climate change.
Here is a list of small things you can do in the effort to live a more sustainable lifestyle:
- According to research at The University of Colorado, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds for every meatless Monday you participate in. Reducing your meat intake by substituting a veggie burger every now and then can make a significant impact.
Swap Your Straws
- While compostable paper straws are better for the environment than plastic ones, they can be a bit of an irritant upon dissolving in your drink of choice. For that reason, metal, glass or bamboo reusable straws may be a better alternative. According to National Resources Defense Council senior attorney Eric Goldstein, the habitual use of straws is almost always unnecessary, but if you must, switching your straws can help.
Pass on the Plastic Bags
- Flimsy plastic bags often break, leaving customers scrambling to pick their newly-bought groceries off of the pavement. Not only are they an annoyance, but they are also bad for the environment. As reported in Stanford Magazine, the United States Environmental Protection Agency says that Americans not only go through hundreds of billions of plastic bags every year but that the plastic bags have a habit of gathering in streets, oceans and landfills, never biodegrading.
Ditch Dryer Sheets
- No one wants their laundry to be full of static after drying their clothes, thus the need for dryer sheets, but according to Healthline, “They produce needless amounts of waste and emit potentially harmful chemicals into the air.” Dryer balls, made from wool, eliminate this issue and are completely reusable.
Support Small Businesses
- There is a slew of reasons why you should be supporting your local economy, but one that is often overlooked is the importance of shopping locally to help the environment. According to The Guardian, the fewer links in the food chain, the less opportunity there is for waste in production. Finding a local butcher, or taking a trip to a farmers market for produce can really help everyone — and the earth.
Create Clean Air
- Whether you’re a houseplant enthusiast, or your green thumb is somehow defective, there is a large variety of oxygen-producing, hard-to-kill plants that you can watch grow in your own space. Curtis Gubb told the BBC about his PhD research in which he says people shouldn’t “freak out” about their individual carbon footprints, but should also avoid buying plants designed to die, and make sure to take care of the ones you have.
Befriend the Bees
- It’s understandable. No one wants to get stung by a bee. However, according to Almanac.com, bumblebees are generally pretty peaceful and are the least likely insect to sting. As author Sarah Wyndham Lewis puts it in Planting for Honeybees: The Growers Guide to Creating a Buzz, bees are extremely loyal to their one type of flower, making them effective pollinators. If you have the space, plant a variety of flowers and the bees will thrive.
- According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, cleaning products are obviously necessary but many of the commonly sold products include harsh chemicals, causing not only negative environmental impacts but irritants for human health as well. As important as nutrition labels are for food, the eco-labels are worth scanning before check-out. The EPA also runs a Safer Choice Program, that can be incredibly helpful in deciding an economically safer and healthier alternative.
Shorten Your Showers
- Another tip you probably learned in elementary school, but still serves as a good reminder. The overuse of water consumption leads to depletion of water in bodies of water. According to research at Northern Arizona University, reducing your shower time can save water, with the average 10-minute shower using 18 gallons of water.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
- As mentioned earlier, it is no one individual’s fault that carbon emissions are high. Small individual changes, however, can help improve the quality of life for everyone. According to Our World in Data, while electricity and heat production are the largest contributors to global emissions, The Nature Conservancy has relayed that the average carbon footprint of a U.S. citizen is 16 tons, making it one of the highest in the world. Luckily, you can calculate your own carbon footprint here, and decide which small changes you can make to ensure a greener, brighter future.
READ MORE: Keeping A Natural State