Everyone wants to be a positive influence on the environment. Whether it’s an educated, conscious decision or just a subconscious evolutionary need depends on the person, but alas, it’s a part of us all.
Even so, changing your lifestyle can be incredibly difficult, and the desire to be environmentally friendly is often not enough motivation to become a vegan minimalist who only eats homegrown food. I get that. I do my best, but that strict lifestyle just doesn’t call to me, or to most people. If you are a vegan minimalist who grows your own food, I applaud and admire you – I would love to taste some of the meals you make!
So even though most of us aren’t ready to flip our entire world upside-down, there are some simple steps we can all take towards lowering our negative impact.
- Meatless Mondays. Consuming meat (including seafood) is incredibly harmful to the environment. The meat/fish industry contributes heavily to land and water pollution and uses lots of energy. Now, I’m not saying you have to go veg – I’ve considered myself a vegetarian for over a year, but I’ve had weak moments. Try going meatless once a week, and gradually increasing your meat consciousness. A little bit goes a long way!
- Turn off the lights! You’ve heard this a lot – probably from your mother and/or roommates, but they’re right! It really has an impact on energy and your wallet. I like to challenge myself to lower my energy bill just a little bit each month. It’s actually pretty fun, and saving money is always a great prize!
- Don’t crank the thermostat. Heating and cooling your home requires massive amounts of energy. When you leave for longer than a few hours, consider lowering the temperature (in winter, raise it in summer) a couple of degrees to save energy while you are gone – this ensures the house will heat back up quickly when you return, and energy is saved! Don’t change it too drastically, though, otherwise the energy expended to heat (or cool) the house again will cancel out the energy you already saved.
- Start walking. Or biking! Or skateboarding. You get the idea. This is a great way to reduce your pollution and get in better shape! We all want to be in better shape, right? That’s two motivators… wonderful!
- Pick up trash when you see it. It’s easy to see trash and be disgusted by it and the person who left it there, but most of the time we don’t go out of our way to pick it up. You’ll become a great samaritan and environmentalist if you pick it up, and it’s usually very easy to do.
- Hang dry your clothes. And wash your clothes in cold water! Unless your clothes are dripping with sweat or animal urine (I’m a cat mom, things happen), then washing with cold water won’t make any difference. Doing both will save enormous amounts of energy and money, and it barely requires a change in your routine.
- Go to the library. If you are a big reader, you probably own books. Consider keeping you absolute favorites and donating the rest to a library, and then start borrowing your books! I’m not a fan of e-readers, but I don’t want to be wasting paper either, so I try to borrow as often as I can. Libraries are usually great places to get work done or find some peace and quiet as well!
- No bottled water. Start to bring a resuable bottle everywhere you might want water. I challenged myself to not use a plastic water bottle for the entirety of 2017 – it ended up being an unrealistic goal, but it has certainly reduced my usage. Having a reuable water bottle could ultimately increase the amount of water you drink as well. Yay for getting healthy while we save the planet!
- Know your carbon footprint. It’s important to understand just how much impact you have on the earth, and what your biggest areas of impact are. Calculate your carbon footprint by using this online calculator. While it isn’t completely accurate, it provides a great representation and it can also be a great teaching tool. Speaking of teaching…
- Teach the world. Teach your kids, your siblings, your parents, your friends, etc. Teach people about how every day life impacts our future. Teach people that we, as a species, are doing some pretty nasty things to the environment right now. But most importantly, teach people that there is time to change, there is hope, and that the end of the world is not here. We’ve got to be positive if we want to get anywhere.
There are so many other things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and to actively make a difference in the world. You don’t have to reinvent your life, and you don’t have to do it all – if you’re doing what you can, you’re doing enough.
Peace and love,
Sources I used/sources you can use: