You’ve seen the tweets, read the news and have heard about the increasing concern over today’s environmental degradation. Our country’s malicious use of plastic, excessive waste of food, contribution to global warming and overall neglect of the environment are hot-button issues. No matter where you stand on these issues, there is one thing on which we can all agree – we need to treat our planet better!
Here are five easy ways we could all become more environmentally friendly:
Forget single-use plastic
Disposable water bottles, plastic shopping bags, excessive packaging – they all add up to the infamous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” – the massive floating island of poorly discarded plastics between the ocean of California and Hawaii.
Try using a stainless steel or glass water bottle, as well as refillable coffee (or tea) cups. Bring a canvas bag or tote to the grocery store with you or save and reuse plastic shopping bags over and over again. Be sure to pass on the plastic straw when eating out and “save the sea turtles!” Try reusable stainless steel straws instead.
Cut down on energy use
We get it – it’s insanely hot in South Carolina during the dead of summer. But hey, with an ice-cold tea and a ceiling fan, you won’t have to regret turning up your thermostat just a bit during the warmer months. In the winter, lower your thermostat a few degrees as well and enjoy a warm coffee or tea from a reusable mug. Try unplugging your appliances or washing clothes and linens in cold water. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 85% of the energy used to machine-wash clothing goes to heating the water. If you are in the market for a new washer and dryer set, be sure to get an energy-efficient option. Better yet – use a drying rack to dry clothes instead of a machine.
We shouldn’t have to remind you to turn off the lights when you leave a room. Leave sticky notes next to the light switches if you have to!
South Carolina may not be at the forefront of the public transportation movement, but there certainly are options to save on gas and travel more sustainably. Check out your city’s public transit system, create a carpool group with coworkers, and bike or walk as often as possible. Become healthier and more sociable while helping to make the world healthier by reducing harmful emissions from vehicles on the roads. It’s a win, win!
Reduce water waste
The US Geological Survey reports that Americans use an average of 80-100 gallons of water at home per day. Americans take drinkable water for granted when in reality, only about 1% of all water on Earth is drinkable. To reduce water waste and ensure the rest of the world has access to safe drinking water, try cutting back on water usage at home. Take shorter showers (the average showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute) and install water-saving showerheads. Be sure to turn off the sink when brushing your teeth, only wash full loads of dishes and laundry, avoid unnecessary flushing of your toilet, and be sure to fix leaks in your home. Keep a sticky note in the bathroom as a good reminder
Make more sustainable food choices
The first step in eating more sustainably is simply not wasting as much food. Americans waste 40% of the food we grow. Try composting your scraps, don’t shy away from leftovers, and try not to buy or prepare more food than you will eat. Since agriculture accounts for 92% of global water consumption, decreased demand for food will eventually result in an increase of available water resources. And on that note – raising animals for meat requires a lot more water than growing grains and produce. Eating less meat means saving water. Try “Meatless Mondays” and taste-test delicious meatless protein options – beans, tofu, grains and nuts. We aren’t asking you to go vegan – just be more intentional about your food choices and what resources were used to produce them.
Join the millions of people worldwide who are concerned about our planet and determined to keep it healthy for the next generation. Who knows, you might even find that you like biking to work and eating tofu on Mondays.