Most people understand the importance of protecting the environment. The planet provides food, shelter, water and other resources for humans and all other life on earth, so a healthy environment makes healthy living possible.
When you understand just how much humans rely on the environment, the idea of protecting the planet takes on enormous importance. However, the biggest environmental challenges facing people today – climate change, pollution, habitat loss and the unsustainable use of natural resources – are global issues. Some people may wonder if it’s possible for one individual to make a difference.
It’s true that creating a sustainable future will likely require large-scale global innovation and intervention. However, people can still make a difference by improving their personal environmental footprints, since individual actions add up to great impact when enough people participate.
Everyone can take part in eco-friendly living. Making your lifestyle more environmentally friendly can involve both big and small actions. Here are five ways you can start living green today.
Reduce Energy Usage
Conserving energy is one of the most important things individuals can do to help the environment. By conserving energy, using energy efficient technology and choosing renewable electricity sources like solar or hydro-power, you can help reduce the carbon-dioxide emissions contributing to climate change.
To conserve energy, search for ways to save power, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and turning off devices when you’re done using them. To increase your household energy efficiency, choose products that use less power to create the same result. For example, choose newer appliances and LED light bulbs that take less energy to do their jobs.
You can also save fossil fuels used in transportation by carpooling, taking public transport, biking and walking when possible.
Reuse Household Goods
Many consumer goods brought into the home end up as trash in a landfill shortly after purchase. While some packaging can be recycled, doing so takes energy and effort. Some environmental stewards reduce waste by turning these pieces of trash into new treasure. Reused items can serve as planters, storage containers, bird feeders and more.
For creative people, reusing household goods might be an enjoyable way to help the environment. You can reuse all sorts of materials – including plastic bottles, milk jugs, clothes pins and egg cartons – simply by using your imagination.
Try a Plant-Based Diet
Producing meat and other animal products for consumption costs the environment. Raising cattle requires land and water resources that may be more efficiently used for growing crops, and studies have found an association between animal-based diets and higher greenhouse gas emissions.
By reducing the amount of meat you eat, you could significantly lower your carbon footprint. Even eating a vegan diet a few days out of the week could positively impact the planet. Search for plant-based alternatives to get the nutrition you need while contributing to a healthier environment.
Waste Less Food
In 2015, the United States threw away 37.6 million tons of food waste. Almost all uneaten food ends up in landfills, where it releases the powerful greenhouse gas methane and contributes to climate change without feeding anyone.
Individuals can help the environment by reducing household food waste and donating excess goods to local food banks. When you do your grocery shopping, stick to a list to ensure that you buy only what you actually need and use. In addition, store food to last by freezing items that could go bad before you need them.
Change Buying Habits
Many consumer products that people need have to be transported long distances and come wrapped in layers of plastic packaging. In order to reduce carbon footprint and household waste, consumers can change a few of their buying habits.
For produce, consider buying from local farmers through a farmers’ market. Local fruits and vegetables require less transportation and often taste fresher than the packaged produce you might find in a store.
For easily stored dry goods and non-food products, consider buying in bulk. When you buy in large quantities, you often save money and reduce the amount of packaging you throw away.
Help Create a Sustainable Future
Protecting the environment requires cooperation. Individual action results in collective change, so it’s important for everyone to participate in eco-friendly living. By following these tips and searching for other ways to increase sustainability, you can help create a healthier planet for everyone.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her previous post on The Art of Healthy Living.