Today we are more aware of the impact of our decisions on the environment around us than ever before. With advancing technology and a better scientific understanding of the natural world, we have created cleaner running vehicles, developed environmental friendly cleaning products, established improved rules regarding commercial farming practices and reassessed the impact of greenhouse gases on the world’s climate.
Despite these steps, we are still a long way from accomplishing the change needed to preserve the environment and save our planet.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that out of 1.5 million species, 22,413 are currently listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species. Ranging from ‘Least Concern’, ‘Near Threatened’ and ‘Vulnerable’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ and ‘Extinct,’ it is hard to look at this incredibly long list and not feel guilty for the choices that we have made and the impact that it is having on the various species that we share this planet with.
You may feel helpless, believing that there is nothing that you can do as one single person in a world of nearly 7.6 billion, however, experts assure that isn’t the case. A recent study reveals that biggest impact on the planet isn’t the agricultural industry, or the result of industrial America – the real power is in the hands of the household consumer like you and me.
Researcher Diana Ivanova from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology explains, “We all like to put the blame on someone else, the government, or businesses, but between 60-80% of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption. If we change our consumption habits this would have a drastic effect on our environmental footprint as well.”
Feeling empowered? The future of the world around us is directly in your hands – what steps are you take today to protect and preserve it?
Check out these 12 surprisingly easy things you can do to protect the planet today:
#1 – Purchase a Reusable Water Bottle
While disposable water bottles may be incredibly convenient, experts warn about the impact that they have on the world around us. It is estimated that 32 million to 54 million barrels of oil were used to produce all of the bottles of water consumed by Americans in 2007. Not only does the production hurt, these bottles are then disposed of bogging up our landfills or showing up as litter along our beaches. Instead, purchase a reusable water bottle to minimize your impact.
#2 – Try Menstrual Cups, Reusable Pads, and Period Underwear
While the use of disposable products during our periods is the normal approach, experts are now suggesting that we reconsider the more environmentally friendly options that are available. It is estimated that approximately 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons reach the landfills each year. Switching to an environmentally friendly option doesn’t just save the environment – it will also be a lot easier on your bank account long-term!
#3 – Get on the Recycling Band Wagon Already!
There is NO excuse not to recycle in today’s day and age. Investing the time and energy into recycling is beneficial in many ways – reducing waste, conserving natural resources, saving energy and even creating jobs right here in the United States! If you don’t already have a recycling bin at home, its time to pick one up and start making a difference.
#4 – Cut Back on Your Meat Consumption
Not only are many experts suggesting that we cut back on the amount of meat we eat in order to create a healthier diet, but doing so will also create a healthier planet. In fact, if you were to make the shift to eating vegetarian for 1-year experts report that your carbon footprint may drop by as much as 820 kilograms of Co2. This means that going vegetarian is approximately 4 times more effective than recycling when it comes to your environmental preservation efforts.
#5 – Avoid Single-Use Coffee Pods
The popularity of coffee pod machines including Keurig and Tassimo units is hard to deny. These incredibly handy devices make it easier than ever to enjoy a hot cup of coffee on the go. The little plastic pods are incredibly harmful as they add up in our landfills. Instead, stick with your traditional coffee maker, purchase a reusable/refillable pod or stick with biodegradable coffee pod options.
#6 – Shop with Reusable Bags
The shift to using reusable shopping bags has been gaining popularity in recent years with many stores now charging for plastic grocery bags. With an alarming number of bags showing up in our waterways and ecosystems, this is a simple shift you can make in your life. Keep a number of reusable bags in your vehicle, making them easily accessible the next time you’re shopping.
#7 – Eliminate Microbeads from Your Daily Routine
Found in many different skin care and beauty products, the little plastic beads cause far more harm than good in our waterways after they are rinsed down your drain! A number of countries are going as far as banning microbeads after researchers revealed that they have discovered the beads in the stomachs of fish and various marine organisms, impacting the overall health of all marine life.
#8 – Donate Goods When Possible
We live in a world that has embraced a disposable lifestyle, however, reigning that in can help tremendously in your efforts to protect the environment. Before chucking that back in the trash, can anything be fixed and saved? Are you able to compost any of your waste? Are you disposing of items that could be donated and put to use by someone else? These are all important steps.
#9 – Go Paperless
There was a day and age where we needed to use paper for everything, however, that time is behind us. We have incredible tools available today in the form of computers, the internet and more, however, our demand for paper products has increased 126% in the last 20 years, with Americans consuming the most paper per capita! Little shifts like switching your billing to paperless can have a big overall impact.
#10 – Cut Back on the Number of Times You Shower
I’m not suggesting that you go through life dirty, however, many Americans are showering far more often than is required. While there is no official magic number for how long you should wait between showers, experts warn that showering too often can be hard on your skin and hard on the environment. The average American shower uses 65.1 liters of water!
#11 – Carpool
The number of vehicles on the road has become overwhelming, with many only carrying a single occupant to destinations like work and school. From the increased demand for fuel to the pollution created by vehicle emissions, this is an area that we should definitely reconsider. If you live near a co-worker, plan a carpool.
#12 – Use Technology to Help Collect Data
We live in an incredibly connected world, with technology permeating our lives. Rather than just carrying that cell phone around for your own personal use experts say you can now lend a hand in collecting valuable data. There are a number of different projects that we can lend a hand in, form recording the songs of the birds around us to submitting photographs of insects and plant life. Check out a collection of projects you can participate in here.
Featured image via Geek Tyrant