One question that I get very often is: “What can I do to help the environment?” And although it’s actually a vague question, I do have some answers for you. But first, a few things to know about me: I am very, very passionate about the environmental work that I do. Environmentalism encompasses both my professional and my personal life. I also run an organization that provides environmental awareness and education.
So, why are these things important? Because I really want you to trust my advice on this. Here are some steps you can take to be a good steward of the environment:
- Reduce your consumption, reuse what you can, and recycle properly. Consumerism and capitalism keep people purchasing. Our phones are practically spying on our conversations, and ads are constantly targeting us for things we mention. While ads might be all around us, be mindful of their purpose. Also, ask yourself if you really need something when you go shopping.
- Show up for local efforts–volunteer at cleanups, participate in community meetings, start a community garden or get involved in one, etc. Showing your support for environmentally related efforts can go a long way when they’re focused hyper-locally. You can actually make a difference in the physical spaces around you, not only as a representative of these spaces but as a user of them as well. You get to meet like-minded individuals and these connections facilitate even more local change.
- Educate yourself on environmental topics so you can educate others when the opportunity arises.
Information is for everyone. Taking the time to teach yourself about the living earth, climate change, and sustainability is great–but it’s even better when you’re sharing that wealth of knowledge. Taking the initiative to teach someone something new influences how important and impactful a particular lesson may be.
- Conserve water by taking shorter showers and not letting the faucet run needlessly. Water is limited, but it’s essential for all life on earth. When we let the faucet run, we’re sending a very valuable resource to become wastewater. There’s such a thing as capturing shower water or rain water, called grey water, to be reused on plants and in toilets, but the bottom line is that we want to save as much as we can. Saving water is something that provides it for future generations .
- Shop wisely–purchase products with less plastic packaging and bring a reusable shopping bag with you to avoid plastic bags. Along with reducing consumerist behaviors, thought should be put into the purchases that you’re actually making as well. What is the product packaged in? How far did it travel to get to the store? Is it single-use? How long will this product be used? How long will it last after I throw it out?
- Switch to energy efficient light bulbs and appliances in your home or office. Energy/electricity is provided by the burning of fossil fuels. Unless it is solar energy. So the best possible thing to do if you’re still getting your electricity the old school way is to make sure you’re using the energy efficiently.
- Find sustainable alternatives.
Alternatives aren’t always easy to find, but you’d be surprised at how many exist. Things like products made from 100% cotton, products that are plastic-free, products that avoid single-use packaging/containers, or products that are compostable. Some examples of these things are bar soap/shampoo, bamboo toothbrushes, safety razors, cotton produce bags, etc.
- Choose non-toxic chemicals to clean and for your hygiene.
Chemicals are everywhere and it’s really hard to get away from them in products. But sometimes the simplest of ingredients are all you really need to get by. Make use of the internet and find swaps for toxic chemicals that are common to find. A great example of this is bleach. While it’s known to kill bacteria and clean very well, there are many DIY recipes that clean just as well and aren’t toxic at all. Tip: those recipes usually include vinegar.
- Ride a bike instead of driving. Additionally, don’t travel by plane unless you absolutely have to. Transportation is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Eliminating emissions entirely is the goal but, of course, travel is sometimes necessary. So, if you need to drive, take the shortest route possible. Otherwise, try to be mindful of fuel consumption and emissions based on how far you’re going and how you’re getting there when traveling.
- Plant a tree and enhance your green thumb. I saved the best for last because this is the most important, but spend time in nature! People are more likely to make eco-conscious decisions when they have a direct connection to nature. Planting trees, gardening, and spending time in nature is a great way to make that connection and get in tune with earth.
That was a lot. But maybe something on this list really stood out to you. I suggest that you don’t try making a bunch of swaps all at once. You’ll be a lot more successful making a few changes at a time to see what works for you. I really hope that this list encourages you to be a little greener.
Featured Image source: Stay Blooming