Even if we don’t realize it, one of the greatest threats in the world today is climate change. This environmental hazard is responsible for rising sea levels, increased temperatures and the extinction of entire species, all of which impact our future well-being here on earth.
It’s common to blame these issues on a passive government or corporate greed, but the fact is our everyday actions are just as much a factor. We tend to avoid sustainable practices out of convenience, laziness or sheer apathy.
As the inheritors of this planet, our generation’s responsibility is to protect the environment we call home. Being eco-conscious in doesn’t even require a drastic lifestyle change. Just start with small trade-offs, and you’ll notice a positive difference over time.
1. Cut Down on Plastic Waste
You might think it’s impossible to avoid using plastic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a shot. Plastic is a known pollutant, and as a scuba diver, I’ve seen firsthand its effects on marine ecosystems. Coral reefs are being destroyed, and fish are washing up ashore due to plastic ingestion. Here are some strategies to reduce your plastic consumption:
- Take a reusable canvas bag with you to the grocery store instead of using the standard plastic bags.
- Drink water from glass bottle and keep refilling it (empty wine bottles are ideal for storing water in the refrigerator).
- Request no straws or plastic lids for your beverage at restaurants and take-out chains.
- Be aware of the plastic content in products you consume and choose biodegradable options which are healthier for the environment.
2. Go Green on Your Commute
Most people drive their cars on a daily basis, but your emissions can be reduced significantly if you make simple changes on the commute. Choose to walk or take public transportation for shorter distances. For longer distances, become familiar with road cycling safety habits, and bike around town instead of driving. When you need to drive somewhere, carpool with friends to lower your carbon footprint.
3. Use Eco-Friendly Products
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to consumer products, but often, we pick the cheapest brand without giving much thought to the consequence of that purchase. Buying mass-produced items can leak factory emissions and pollutants into the atmosphere.
So read the labels when you’re out grocery shopping. Purchase organic, local and fair trade-certified foods. Organic practices eliminate pesticides, fair trade items promote sustainable production and fair wages, and locally grown produce bolsters farming and supports the community. Also check the labels on cosmetic products and choose brands that haven’t been tested on animals and don’t use illegally or unethically sourced ingredients.
4. Work From Home If Possible
The average American spends 47 hours commuting through traffic each year. This equals 3.7 billion hours and 23 billion gallons of gas wasted. With more companies becoming eco-conscious and more millennials entering the workforce, some businesses allow their employees to work remotely which offers increased flexibility and benefits the environment. In fact, remote working decreases greenhouse emissions by 54 million tons annually.
5. Practice Energy Efficiency
We often take electricity for granted and don’t realize how much energy we consume by leaving the lights on or forgetting to unplug a charger. Remembering to turn off all switches before leaving the house is crucial, but you can also swap traditional bulbs for LEDs or CFLs which use less power and have a longer lifespan. The money you would save by switching out incandescents for these greener options will make this a win-win situation.
If you can afford it, another solution is using solar power. These panels are installed on the roof and converting sunlight into energy that can fuel everything from the refrigerator to the air-conditioner. In cases where enough sunlight isn’t collected, the energy is drawn from a built-in power grid. This natural form of electricity can also save money in the long-term, and research shows that solar panel users saved between $44 to $187 during their first year alone.
These are just a few pointers adopting a more sustainable life that doesn’t require any profound changes. If we all took these basic strides, the collective impact on this planet would be extremely positive—and in the modern world, that’s exactly what our environment needs.
Akshata Mehta has a passion for traveling and exploring the world. She loves to write, and is especially interested in sustainable living. Being a foodie, she also enjoys cooking up healthy concoctions in her kitchen, recording these recipes and more on her blog With Love From Akshata.