Five Simple Steps You Can Take Now to be More Environmentally Friendly

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn

The idea that individuals changing their habits to be more environmentally will have no effect on the environment is ludicrous and unacceptable. Environmental efforts need to start on an individual level, by people encouraging others to be more environmentally friendly without the government regulating citizens’ behaviors. If you do not know where to start or are searching for more ways to minimize your carbon footprint and overall mark on the environment, read on to pick up five new environmentally friendly habits.

1. Ditch the plastic

So many of our favorite beverages come in plastic bottles. From water to Gatorade to the grande Starbucks you ordered this morning, plastic consumes a lot of our lives. The plastic from your beverage is not biodegradable, and thus, it never goes away. Because of this, only 8% of plastic gets recycled and the rest ends up in landfills. Every year, 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean. It is beyond time to give up plastic water bottles and opt for reusable options. Aside from doing your part in saving the environment, you will also save money. To continue cutting down on plastic, consider bringing your own mason jars to cafes and skipping the straw instead of wasting a plastic cup and straw.

2. Go vegan

While this may not exactly be the simplest of changes for some due to health reasons, for many of us it is accessible and should be highly considered. It is shown that eliminating meat from your diet can reduce your carbon footprint to 1,230 kilograms per year. Further, livestock accounts for 18% of the greenhouse gas emissions, meaning a worsening in global warming. Cutting out meat and dairy when you can is a small step that goes toward reducing the demand for livestock breeding and more CO2  in the atmosphere.

3. Cut down on energy use in your home

Switching to energy star appliances, turning off lights when you leave a room, never keeping the house too warm or cool, and insulating your house are all simple and quick ways to make sure you are running an energy efficient home.

4. Walk or carpool when you can

Reducing your carbon foot print is as simple as burning off some calories by walking or biking instead of driving. The next time you and a friend are going somewhere, offer to drive the both of you. Look for small opportunities where you can emit less CO2 by not relying on vehicles as much.

5. Invest in reusable bags

We’ve all seen heartbreaking images of marine life being suffocated by plastic bags being marketed for the use of reusable bags. These images reflect the cruel reality of an overconsumption of plastic bags. The plastic bags you bring your groceries home in account for ten percent of the debris on our coast lines. Consider how many plastic grocery store bags you use in a month and how many you could prevent ending up in landfills by switching to reusable, canvas tote bags.

Leading a more environmentally friendly life is not exactly a daunting task. In fact, in many cases you find that switching to environmentally friendly habits ends up saving you more money. Reflect on your lifestyle and what you can reasonably change in order to save energy, cut down on emissions, and prevent more litter in our landfills.

Alana Bannan