In this day and age of extreme consumerism, it’s important for us to realize the need to reduce waste and contribute to a greener planet. Plastic has only been used mainstream since the 50’s, and now the ocean is full of it. Sea animals are ingesting mass amounts of it, too. If you think about it, our world is becoming one big trash heap.
Many people are becoming more conscious of lifestyle choices that greatly affect our planet, and are changing their habits so they can be more of a help than a hurt. So, how can you become a friendlier earthling? There are many ways we can each help, but here are a few tips to get you started towards a better path.
1. Recycle everything!
Today, many cities around the world have a recycling service. All you have to do is call up your local recycling service and they’ll bring you a recycling bin or trash can. Look for the recycle symbol on the plastic bottle or container and the number should be labeled on there. Other common recyclables include wax coated containers, glass bottles & jars, paper & cardboard, and cans.
Mostly everything can be recycled; your yogurt containers, milk jugs, detergent bottles, cereal boxes, you name it!
Unfortunately, Styrofoam boxes and plastic bags can’t be recycled most places, so it’s best to not use them. Use paper bags and go to restaurants that use biodegradable packaging. Recycling helps to reduce the amount you’re throwing away, making it take longer to fill up your trash can, so in turn, you’re buying less trash bags!
2. Use every last bit
Every week we go to the store and buy hand soap, shampoo, dish detergent, peanut butter, salad dressing, etc. Many of us throw things out when they get low. There might be 1/6 left in the bottle and that bit gets wasted, and a new one gets bought. Why don’t you try using that 1/6? For any soapy product, you can just add water and keep using it until it runs out.
For food products like peanut butter, just scrape out all the remnants. Sure, it’s ‘work,’ but it could potentially save you money on one or two peanut butter jars, a year. Even make-up, when the foundation gets really low, use a Q-tip to get to the last bits out or cut the bottle open to easily get to the bottom. In turn, you’re less wasteful and saving yourself money.
3. Try and search for a low-emission car, or no car at all
Some people have to have a car, if they don’t live in a city with good public transportation. Lots of people have to commute at least 30 minutes to their jobs. For those that need vehicles, there are many affordable options for hybrid, electric, or low-emission cars. For example, the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid are among good options. These cars are more plentiful now, than ever. They are all generally very good on gas, too! If you live in an accommodating city, just use a bike or the subway. When going out of town for a road trip, a great service is Zipcar which offers hybrids for rent. It’s way cooler and easier than your traditional car rental service.
4. Eat more fruits & veggies, and search for foods with less packaging
It’s easy to come home from work and be too tired to cook. But if you want to be healthy, cooking is the way to go. My routine lately has been sautéing lots of veggies with rice. Buying bulk vegetables can last you a long time.
A bundle of carrots, celery, and potatoes is cheap and may last you a few weeks.
Eating fruits and veggies is important for your body, and the Earth, rather than eating beef and packaged foods. The combined world production of beef is one of the top C02 contributors, which isn’t helping our global warming dilemma. So cook more, and eat more natural foods.
5. Change where you shop
We all usually have a go-to grocery store we go for all of our food and household needs. But some are more eco-friendly than others. My new favorite is ALDI’s. It’s small, it’s cheap, most of their products are organic, and they make you bring your own bags. If you don’t bring any, you can buy a reusable bag for like 10 cents, but most everyone knows to bring their own. Try hitting a local Farmers market on a Saturday morning. Get your fruits, veggies, breads, and cheeses from farmers in your area. This way you know your food is organic, and you can help keep local farming alive and well!
Have you ever thought about how people are starving around the world, and you just throw half your meal away because you’re full? Why not use those scraps and leftovers to replenish the Earth and its organisms? Right now, I have a little backyard that backs up to the woods behind my house, and I throw all of my fruit and veggie scraps back there for the animals to eat them.
It’s simple and easy to make your own compost pile, too! Here’s a how to: http://eartheasy.com/grow_compost.html. Many cities even offer compost bin services, most notably, the organic, hippie mecca, Portland, Oregon. I think every city should offer a compost service, but if yours doesn’t, try out making your own compost pile.
7. Pick up trash when you see it
Many people take our trees, water, and clean air for granted, and think that it will stay this way forever no matter what, but that’s not the case. If you do litter, please don’t do it again, better yet, pick up trash when you see it. I am a nature loving girl, so I love going for walks and runs outside rather than going to the gym. I like to utilize that time by picking up trash too. Even if it’s just a little bit, it really does make a difference and can inspire others to help out more, too! It’s even cooler to wear gloves, bring a friend, and a few trash bags, and make an afternoon out of it.
8. Spread the word
If you’re like me, you post articles about things going on in the world and your country as a way of showing your peers that may not know or care about it. I even have my own Environmental Facebook page where I post about legislation that is helping or harming the environment, and really any climate change news. In a time where the science is overwhelming that temperatures are rising, it’s important to educate others so that we can maybe turn things around. If you know and care about these issues, join a local group or search online for organizations you may want to support. Good groups to follow on social media are: Greenpeace, WWF, Earth Guardians, and there’s hundreds more!
Every day I think of new ways I can be less wasteful. Many people don’t see the point because they don’t think enough people will do it to make a difference. That’s simply not true.
Entire cities and countries are becoming less wasteful and moving towards cleaner energy policies.
Now more than ever, individual action is important, if we want to collectively save our home that we call, Earth.