With ever-doomier forecasts, unprecedented extreme weather events, and a growing list of extinct species, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many people who are still willing to argue that we as a species are having a seriously damaging effect on the environment. Most of us want to be doing our bit to protect the planet, but knowing where to start can be daunting and even discouraging. There seem to be a lot of products claiming to be eco-friendly, from toilet paper delivery services to hybrid cars, but how is one better than another? Virtually everything we do has some effect on the environment, whether it’s buying cheap, disposable clothing that was made in a factory using unsustainable methods of production or deciding to turn on the air conditioning, it all contributes. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic to expect people to conduct the research necessary to gauge the environmental impact of their every movement.
But all is not as futile as it might sometimes feel. As one person, you’re not going to be single-handedly saving the planet from self-destruction, but there are a number of simple steps you can take to ensure you’re leaving the smallest possible mark on our planet.
1. Refuse Single-Use Plastic
This is a big one. We know we said we had some “simple steps” for you to follow, we meant simple in theory, not necessarily application. Try to go an entire day without any single use plastic; that includes plastic shopping bags, food packets, stationery packaging, lids, straws, take-away containers, coffee cups…the list is endless. But, with a little perseverance, it can be done. Pick up some reusable jars, containers, and bags. Above all, be ruthless with yourself. If your favorite snack only comes in plastic wrappers, it’s time to find a new favorite snack. If you get to the café only to realize you’ve left your keep cup behind, then either go back for it or go without. It will happen a lot to start with, but that negative reinforcement will work wonders. Pretty soon you’ll be grabbing those bags and cups on your way out the door without even realizing you’re doing it.
2. Stop Driving Everywhere
One of the biggest barriers preventing people from making positive behavior changes is the convenience factor, and that’s certainly a major factor when it comes to choosing eco-friendly transportation. Cars offer the ultimate convenience. Driving a car to work means you might get to sleep in an hour longer than you would if you were riding a bike or taking public transport. It means you can make last minute, late night runs to the convenience store for muffins and chocolate. But convenience has a cost, and if you’re committed to having a more positive impact on our environment, you’ll undoubtedly have to relinquish some of those easy options. But not driving a car actually has a lot of benefits for you as well. For one thing, you’ll be spending less money on petrol, not to mention auto-maintenance and repair. You’re less likely to get a speeding ticket or find yourself furiously circling city blocks looking for an empty parking spot. If you choose to walk or ride, you’ll get plenty of incidental exercise, and as long as you can adjust to waking up that little bit earlier, you might find that a half-hour stroll to work gives you a much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle of traffic.
3. Eat Local and Seasonal Foods
This is one that regularly has foodies wringing their hands in despair: “Of course I care about the environment, but what if I just really feel like a pomelo today? If this is you, let us start by saying we appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read this far, and clearly you do want to do the right thing. But to be perfectly blunt, you’re just going to have to get over it. The sheer amount and variety of foods we have available to us in the developed world is staggering. But the fact is, it’s not natural to have access to every single fruit on the planet 365 days a year. And compared with what many of our fellow humans have to live on, it’s actually kind of obscene. Besides, if you’re buying high-quality, locally grown food, it’s going to be much fresher and tastier. You’ll also get to experience the excitement of waiting for your favorite foods to come into season.
Don’t Stop There!
These are just three of the simplest ways to start making the planet a better place, but there are many, many more. Switch to renewable energy, reuse whatever can be reused, and make it your personal mission to produce less waste today than you did yesterday.
Article Submitted By Community Writer