You’ll feel like a climate hero following these tips for sustainability to reduce plastic waste, water pollution and CO2 emissions.
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Let’s face it; humans have done a number on the Earth. Luckily, more and more people realize that sustainability is key to protecting the Earth and ensuring its survival for future generations. Everything you do in your life has an impact on our planet, including the food you choose or how often you use your car. We’re not going to tell you that you should start walking to work on foot every day or become vegan. But even adopting one vegan meal or biking to work weekly can easily reduce your carbon footprint. Here are other small changes you can make to reduce your environmental impact.
Eat Less Meat
No, you don’t have to become a vegan or a vegetarian to reduce your carbon footprint. Meat production is a significant contributor to pollution and climate change, but you don’t have to give up hamburgers to make a difference. Instead, eat less meat. You can do this by planning for at least one meal a week that doesn’t include meat and build from there. There are many vegetarian recipes online that can help you reduce your meat consumption without sacrificing your taste buds.
We live in a digital age, so we can use less paper for things like grocery lists, communication, or note-taking. Instead of taking notes with a pen and paper, students can use their laptops to help reduce their carbon footprint. Your grocery list can go right onto your phone with an app, notes, or sending a text.
Invest In Reusable Items
It’s estimated that we throw away 35 billion water bottles yearly in the U.S. You can help reduce this waste by reusing products as many times as possible before throwing them away. Invest in a reusable water bottle that doesn’t contribute to single-use landfill waste. Did you know that the average American uses an estimated 156 plastic bottles yearly? By investing in a reusable item, you’ll have an item that you can use for years to come while helping to reduce 156 pieces of plastic waste.
Use Less Water
Save water around your home by taking shorter showers or skipping multiple showers throughout the day. Parents, you can save water by bathing two or more of your children in the same water so you don’t have to run separate baths for younger kids.
Reduce Food Waste
Food waste is the number one material in America’s landfills. Each year in the U.S., we throw out nearly 40% of our food supply. That’s $48 billion dollars worth of food that could feed 300 million people yearly.
Instead of throwing leftovers away, pack them up for lunch the next day so no food goes to waste. Some foods can even be frozen, so you don’t have to eat them right away. You can also reduce food waste by only purchasing what you know will be eaten. Take a look at your refrigerator right now. If you have a drawer dedicated to decaying vegetables, you’re not alone. Take note of the foods you never seem to finish so you know to purchase smaller quantities next time.
If you have the counter or outdoor space, invest in a compost bin. Save kitchen scraps and use them to make fertilizer for your garden.
This one may seem impossible in the suburbs, but if you can, try driving less. If you are in a city, this tip is easy since the grocery store will be nearby. If you’re someone who goes for a drive as a way to de-stress, try finding alternatives, such as going for a walk after dinner. Walk or ride a bike when you can and within reason, and only drive when you have to.
You can drive less by taking advantage of public transport, which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Use Green Cleaning Products
Many conventional cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that are harmful to the environment, wildlife, and your health. Some of these include benzophenones, bisphenol, and phthalates which have been linked to cancer and can pollute water resources as well as the environment. While conventional products take the lead on store shelves, there are a few brands that ensure that harsh chemicals never make it into their formulas.
Read labels carefully to check what’s behind those claims to make your home clean. If you’re unsure about certain ingredients there are resources like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which carefully research and offer ‘Safer Choice’ lists for consumers focused on buying green products.
Save Energy At Home
By taking small steps to make your home more sustainable, you can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. Did you know that LED light bulbs use 75% less energy? The EPA estimates that we could reduce 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gases yearly if every light bulb was switched to LED. You can also make your house more eco-friendly by:
- Adding a recycling bin
- Improving insulation
- Installing energy-saving windows
- Buying energy-efficient appliances
- Using LED light bulbs
Use Green Personal Care Products
Like cleaning products, personal care products can be damaging to the environment. Not only are shampoo bottles made of plastic that ends up in landfills, but many exfoliating body washes contain plastic beads that are harmful to the environment. Instead, opt for eco-friendly hair care and body care products made with natural ingredients that won’t harm the environment or your health.
Invest in brands that invest in the earth by using less packaging or that offer plastic-free or package-free options. In terms of waste, this makes a big difference. It’s estimated that 550 million shampoo bottles are thrown into landfills in the U.S. yearly.
If you want to protect the planet, get politically involved by voting for candidates who care about the environment and have plans to help save it. You can write letters to representatives for stronger policies that limit greenhouse gas emissiseeItons, fight climate change, and protect wildlife.
Invest In Sustainable Clothing Brands
Buying clothes purchased from thrift stores and second-hand stores will help you cut down on pollution and waste. Every year we throw away millions of tons of textiles when they could be reused, recycled, upcycled, or resold. Landfills received 11.3 million tons of MSW textiles in 2018.
You can also support sustainable brands. These are brands that use sustainable materials, such as hemp, to reduce your fashion carbon footprint and find other ways to reduce their footprint like using plastic-free packaging.