Combating climate change, or figuring out a solution to global warming, is a daunting task that many feel they don’t have the means or ways to accomplish. Fortunately each of us has within ourselves the ability to make some smaller (yet significant) changes in our lives that can help make a difference. Instead of becoming overwhelmed at the obstacles which may be presenting themselves, we need to take back control of our own destinies by doing what we can. We have the power within ourselves, if we so choose, to make our immediate environment a better place. As long as each of us made the decision to make a few biofriendly changes, to live life a little greener, or to commit to reducing our carbon footprint, we would likely see the ripple effect of our actions in very little time.
So, the following is a list we’ve put together of 20 actions you can take to help the environment this week. These are simple actions, not too complicated, but ones that can make a difference. By adding these into your daily or weekly routine, and encouraging others to do the same, changes can and will happen.
Let’s start with figuring out your own carbon footprint. This will give you a good starting point. Once you know the impact you are having on the environment, you can take steps like implementing these actions to lower that impact:
- Get outside more often. Spending time out in nature every day can have positive health and other benefits. While you are there, be sure to really look at the environment around you so you can spot aspects you approve of and those you’d like to change. This is a good way to get and keep you inspired.
- Don’t keep yourself cooped up indoors all day. Indoor air pollution can be a lot more harmful and potent than the air quality outdoors. You can also improve the quality of the air in your home or office by opening windows periodically.
- Get one or more plants for inside your home. Certain plants are known for improving indoor air quality. Plants can also help brighten a space and enhance a person’s mood.
- Eat less meat. Opt for more fresh and cooked vegetables, particularly vegetables high in protein. Tasty, and easy to prepare, vegetarian and vegan options do exist.
- Choose locally-sourced, organic food. The use of fewer toxins and chemicals, along with a shorter travel distance, means not as much of an impact on the environment.
- Grow your own. Whether you have a brown thumb or bright green one, growing your own herbs and vegetables means you know what you are putting into your body.
- Unplug all appliances, electronics and other devices when not in use. Even when a device is turned off, it is still continuing your use energy. Unplugging will prevent this from happening.
- Don’t forget to unplug yourself daily too. Nobody needs to “stay connected” 24/7. We all need down time. Disconnecting from your devices can help you reconnect with your family, friends and local community.
- Lower vehicle emissions. Start out by carpooling once a week, then move onto using public transportation a few times a month, biking or walking to local destinations, and utilizing a proven liquid fuel catalyst. The more people who do this, the greater the effects on air quality. Just take a look at a recent study which showed CicLAvia improves air quality in LA neighborhoods.
- Take care of your vehicle. Conducting routine maintenance, checking for proper tire pressure, doing regular oil changes, not pushing your vehicle too hard, avoiding excessive acceleration or braking, and minimizing idle time can do a lot to improve fuel efficiency and save gas money.
- Make your own eco-friendly cleaning solutions to use around your house. Vinegar, baking soda, lemons, and a variety of other natural products can do a fantastic job at getting rid of grease and grime. Even a little vinegar and baking soda in your laundry can freshen up towels and sheets you considered beyond hope.
- Use your dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load. Doing otherwise is a waste of money, energy and water.
- Clean the lint out of your dryer prior to each use. It will cost more to dry your clothes if lint is allowed to accumulate. NOTE: If you can dry your clothes naturally outdoors, this is a much better option (although not always feasible in winter).
- Turn off the faucet in between washing dishes, brushing teeth and taking a shower. If you aren’t using the water at that moment, turn it off and then back on when you need it. This one action alone can save more than 200 gallons of water a month.
- Program your thermostat to no higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter when you are home, lower when you are asleep or away. Set your thermostat no lower than 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months.
- Stop drinking water from a plastic bottle. Drink tap water or buy a filter, if you are worried about water quality.
- Choose reusable products and materials. Despite the convenience, do what you can to shy away from single use items including: paper plates and cups, disposable knifes and forks, razors, coffee pods, and plastic bags.
- Recycle whenever possible. Instead of automatically tossing items in the trash, sort your garbage into those items which can be recycled and those which can’t. You may want to go further and sort out items that can be put in your compost pile. No reason to add to the already outrageous landfills we currently have on this planet.
- Before you decide to throw away clothes, goods or materials, take the time to figure out if such can be recycled or reused. My guess is many of these can be put to use in some other form.
- Commit to reducing your consumption. Most of us don’t really need many of the items we have in our homes. So, instead of just buying stuff to have stuff, figure out if it is a want or a true necessity.
While some may tell you you need to go big and buy an electric vehicle, install solar on your rooftop, set up a wind turbine in your backyard or do some other major environmental action, not all of us can afford to do that. It doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference though. These simple actions allow you to help the environment starting right now, and of course, you can always add on from there. In all honesty, more people who adopt green and eco-friendly habits, the better off the environment will be for you, your children and future generations.
Natural environment image by David Schiersner via Flickr Creative Commons.