Research has shown that anthropogenic effects are resulting in a changing climate and a rise in greenhouse gases. There are islands composed solely of trash that have found their ways from our shores into the ocean — these are all results of actions taken in the past. How we shape what happens to our planet in the future is up to us.
Becoming more sustainable and eco-friendly can be simple and easy to achieve by making micro adjustments to your everyday life practices. Our sheer existence as human beings has a lasting impact on the world around us. However, we have control over how little or how much impact we choose to have through such things as our eating preferences, materialistic consumption, and transportation choices.
Get in the know about the environmental issues in your area and learn how you might be able to help.You don’t have to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders, although it may feel that way if you’re constantly reading about the state of our planet’s health. Instead, take it in small doses. Follow some credible news sources in your social media feeds to see small blips throughout the day or set aside a 10 minute news break in the morning to play catch up. The more you know, the more educated your decisions will be in reducing your carbon footprint.
Say No to Conventional Farming
Many of our favorite foods contain dangerous chemicals that pose a threat to our health. Popular food products, such as processed oast used in cereals, have been evaluated and shown to contain the toxic chemical glyphosate that is present in the pesticide RoundUp. Monocrop farms are common in conventional farming but fail to replenish the soil the way that diversifying crops will, depleting the soil of nutrients in the future.
Livestock factory farming, another common conventional technique, is not only harmful to the soil and the water table in the areas in which they exist, is is also harmful to public health and the health of the farmers who raise them. Consider starting your own garden in your backyard, on your windowsill or investing in a greenhouse to cut out the middleman between you and what you are eating.
Be an educated consumer by using your purchasing power to buy products made from non-toxic materials. Plastic water bottles that we purchase on-the-go contain BPA that leeches into our drinking water and cause physical harm over time. The production of synthetic items expels copious amounts of toxic substances, some of which are known to cause neurological damage. BPA is also in the lining of canned foods. By purchasing items that are labeled at BPA-free you are doing your part to not support companies that choose to still use it.
One thing you can do to help the environment is commit to composting. It has several great benefits to the environment such as reducing waste in the landfills and rebuilding healthy soil full of beneficial bacteria and living organisms. When you go to start your garden in the spring, you can use the composted soil in your garden instead of purchasing soil that comes in a plastic bag from the local nursery.
Ditch the Plastic
Plastic, while one of the world’s most useful inventions, does not ever fully biodegrade. Once it is created, it will continue to exist in extremely small forms indefinitely, as we currently understand. Plastic is a large issue in our oceans — marine life and sea birds assume it is food and can cause them serious harm.
Ways that you can reduce your plastic use include:
Bringing your own shopping bag to the store
Purchase produce as is and do not utilize the provided thin, plastic produce bags
Refuse straws when eating out or getting a to-go beverage
Bring your own coffee mug to your local cafe
Convert to glass food storage containers in your home kitchen
Carry your own reusable utensils and ditch the plasticware
Adopt a Plant-Based Diet
This is not a statement to convince you to convert to vegetarianism or veganism. However, by reducing your meat intake, you may also be reducing your carbon footprint. Raising livestock and producing meat is more energy consuming than growing produce and grains. One quarter-pound hamburger requires 6.7 pounds of grains and forage, 52.8 gallons of water for drinking and crop production, and 1,036 btus of fossil fuels. By adopting a simple “meatless Monday” rule in your home you can help to reduce the amount in of meat eaten in your household. An added bonus, you can learn how to make new and exciting vegetarian meals.
Get involved with local and national environmental issues. Many changes to policy relating to public lands usage, goods production, environmental planning, and business practices are made right underneath our watch. Stay up-to-date with current events and make sure to make your voice heard — commit to voting in every election, show up for protests, write your senators, and attend city council meetings. Even if you do not comment at public hearings, just showing up is important. When lawmakers see public engagement their eyes are open to the fact that their decisions will be scrutinized. It may just make them think twice before signing a bill that may be detrimental to our land, air, or soil.
Choose Sustainable Transport
If you own your own car, it is all too easy to want to commute alone to work everyday. Consider how much you could reduce your transportation carbon emissions by walking, biking, or carpooling in the future. If you live within three miles of your office, walking or biking to work can greatly reduce your negative impact on our atmosphere. If you live further, it may be less rational for you to commit to walking or biking. Instead, consider starting a carpool system through your place of employment or invest the time into researching your public transportation options. The city bus, trolley, subway or light rail could help you to also reduce the amount of money that you spend on gas and car insurance by simply purchasing a monthly pass.
No matter what your lifestyle looks like, there are mini changes that you can make to reduce your carbon footprint. Setting the intention to make one small change or new commitment a month could be all you need to do your part for the planet.