The Earth is home to all that we love and protecting it is important. We use the resources the Earth provides and build up our societies. Yet many of the actions humans take have a negative impact on the health of the planet. This will continue to amplify through the generations unless we all take responsibility for the marks we leave on the environment. Due to the United States’ recent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, which sought to combat climate change, there is a greater desire from individuals to help the environment. Accordingly, here are 10 ways that you can do your part for the environment.
1) Reducing Energy Usage
So much in our everyday lives relies on the usage of electricity and other forms of energy. As such, we often take energy for granted and do not think about how much we use except in the context of utilities bills. However, the more energy that we use, the more energy that has to be harvested in power plants. This causes a greater amount of fumes and power plant pollution to get released into the environment. Since many power plants use resources such as coal and oil rather than cleaner and renewable resources, the byproducts that are released, such as greenhouse gasses, contribute significantly to global warming. Some easy ways that you can reduce your energy usage include turning off lights when you are not in a room, turning off electronic devices when not in use, and substituting in cold water in place of warm water for some of your household tasks.
2) Using Alternative Fuels
For quite a long time, gasoline and diesel have been used as the primary fuels for automotive vehicles. However, gas is nonrenewable and leads to the emission of some of the greenhouse gases implicated in human-caused climate change. In recent years, research has been done to develop alternative fuels and some of these seem to be viable, and environmentally cleaner, options. For example, hybrid cars that run on a combination of gas and electricity are gaining popularity among drivers. Other alternative fuels include ethanol, hydrogen, propane, and more. Though it may take time for all new vehicles to be built with the capability to use such fuels, their gradual integration will help reduce carbon emissions. If you are looking for a new car, you should consider one that can use cleaner fuels.
Carpooling to work, school, and errands is a great way to help the environment while also maintaining social relationships. Since more people are in each vehicle, there are fewer cars on the road, which can significantly reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants. Less pollution means healthier ecosystems and better quality air for everyone. In fact, car emission pollution has been associated with increased risk of asthma, lung cancer, allergies, and more. Besides health and environmental benefits, lower number of cars means less traffic on busy roads. In addition, by carpooling you can save money on gas and use it as a way to keep up with friends. An easy way to organize a carpool is by getting together a group and setting a schedule for when each person will drive.
Today, children are taught about recycling at a young age in an effort to help the environment. In the United States, over 250 million tons of solid waste are produced in the span of a year. Much of this waste ends up in landfills and some of it is also burned. The waste that is not biodegradable may remain there for generations and release pollutants. However, a large percentage of what ends up in landfills can actually be recycled, which puts it to reuse, rather than just sitting somewhere for an undetermined length of time. Certain metals, plastic, paper, cardboard, glass, and more can be recycled. Many places have recycling bins along with garbage cans, so doing so is not a burden. Recycling can help conserve water, trees, space, and other valuable resources.
A lot of the waste that goes into landfills is biodegradable food waste which can be put to better use elsewhere. Composting uneaten food is a great way to help the environment that is accessible to anyone. When you allow the waste to degrade in the soil, it will not produce the greenhouse gas methane. In addition, composting allows other organisms in the ecosystem to take advantage of waste’s nutrients. The breakdown of organic food material causes the soil in which it is composted to become richer and better for growing new plant life. Thus, if you grow a garden and compost it with food waste, it will help sustain itself. Since the soil will have natural sources of nutrients, there is the added bonus of avoiding using chemical fertilizers that may have unintended environmental consequences.
6) Maintaining a Steady Driving Style
Surprisingly, the manner in which people drive can have an impact on the environmental consequences. Certain driving practices cause more fuel to be used up than others, which is damaging both for nature and finances. This is because the more fuel that is used, the more dangerous fumes pollute the air. When driving at high speeds (over 65 miles per hour) fuel efficiency decreases, meaning that you will need more gas to finish the trip. Additionally, if you break and accelerate more than necessary, your car will eat up extra fuel. Therefore, maintaining a smoother drive is better because you will reduce your car’s fuel consumption and provide a more comfortable ride for yourself and your passengers.
7) Use Energy Efficient Lightbulbs
Doing your part for the environment can start with something as easy as changing the lightbulbs in your house. Regular incandescent bulbs often require a large amount of energy to shine brightly and produce excess heat. When you replace these with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs), your lights will use less energy to brighten up your rooms. Since these are also cooler-running bulbs, they will not give off significant amounts of unnecessary heat. Additionally, many of the more energy efficient bulbs are made to last longer than traditional ones, so you will be able to go longer between replacements, which reduces inconvenience as well as waste. In general, the widespread use of energy efficient bulbs has the potential to very significantly decrease greenhouse gas emission, which can help prevent further climate change.
8) Eating Less Meat
Vegetarianism and veganism have been on the rise in recent times for many different reasons and helping out the environment is one of them. However, even meat-eaters can make a positive environmental impact by reducing their meat intake, rather than eliminating it all together. There are high amounts of carbon emissions related to raising livestock. Lower meat consumption would cut down on transportation emissions and methane emissions associated with the animals themselves. In fact, it has been estimated that widespread vegetarianism has the potential to lower emissions by 63% over the next few decades. Additionally, diets that are lower in meat and higher in plant matter are generally healthier. They are also more energy efficient. In fact, the energy from a crop of grain can feed more people if used directly rather than used to feed livestock for slaughter.
9) Using a Clothesline
Many people tend to see dryers just as machines of convenience, rather than considering their environmental effects. While dryers have been built to be more energy efficient over time, you can still be able to further reduce your energy usage by making use of a clothesline instead. An outdoor clothesline may not be feasible in all weather conditions, but hanging clothes on an indoor dryer is also an option. Additionally, even if everyone uses a clothesline for only some of their washes, a great amount of energy could be saved. If you are concerned about your clothes drying stiff, you can add a small amount of vinegar to the rinse cycle of your wash and this will act as a natural fabric softener.
10) Paying Your Bills Online
Everyone has bills to pay, so it makes sense to go for an easy option like paying online, especially since it can actually help out the environment. When you pay bills by regular mail, you are contributing to the amount of paper waste that will likely end up in a landfill somewhere, as well as the gas emissions of mail transportation. When you pay online, you can avoid using as much paper regularly. Additionally, online payments do not have the same chance of getting lost in the mail that paper payments do. There are many secure ways to pay bills online and you can avoid having to remember to go to the bank or post office. Though computer hacking and viruses are threats in a technological world, if you consistently check your statements to make sure nothing is awry, you can catch these potential problems early if they do occur and take additional measures to prevent them.