So we’ve all heard about the importance of reducing the amount of resources we use up, as it’s best for the environment, the air we breathe, and the future of our planet and our species as a whole. For a while now, I’ve been hoping to reduce the amount of waste I contribute to.
When you think about it – every manmade product that has ever existed on this earth is still on the earth in some form. Even if it’s been transformed into another substance, it still exists, and it will likely never go away completely. Then, when you think about all the trash that is simply thrown into a landfill… it’s a lot. All we’re really doing is hiding it. Burying it under the ground so we don’t have to worry about it anymore. That’s crazy when you think about it, but we’re too used to the pattern that it would be damn near impossible to stop now.
Though there’s seemingly no way to live completely waste-free, there are a few steps we could all take to reduce our footprints a little. I’ve divided it up into three categories:
Energy – things like electricity, gas, and heating/cooling.
Waste – what you would throw away, discard on a daily basis. Pollution effecting the environment we live in, and thus all living things.
and Humanity – effecting both humans and animals.
Some of these categories overlap, which is a great thing! Why not do a little bit to help out all of the above?!
Of course, this is not an all-or-nothing situation, as every little bit helps. Would it be beneficial for the entire world population to go vegan and start driving exclusively hybrid cars? Of course it would! But am I expecting you to give up your cheeseburger and your Honda Civic? Of course not, and you’re not a bad person for having those things. You’re not a hypocrite for wanting to help in the ways you’re willing to help. Helping at all is a major step forward, and anyone who tells you differently simply doesn’t understand that.
Some of these tips will be easy, every day things, and others will be a little more challenging to implement. No matter what lifestyle you lead, there will be something in these lists below that you can work on in your daily routine.
Ways To Reduce Your Energy / Carbon Footprint:
- Take advantage of public transportation.
- Seek out opportunities to Carpool.
- Turn off all lights and unplug electronics when not in use.
- Switch to CFL or LED lights – they last longer and save energy.
- Keep your house a bit warmer in the summer (75 & up) and cooler in the winter (70 & below)
- Invest in an energy-efficient shower head to save water.
- Make sure your doors and windows are weather sealed to prevent heated or cooled air from escaping.
- Keep your water heater’s maximum temperature at 120 degrees or lower.
- Keep your blinds open during winter days to take advantage of the warmth from the sun.
- Make sure the dishwasher is full (but not overloaded) when you use it.
- Allow your dishes to air dry instead of using the heat-dry setting.
- Keep your sinks on the cold setting when not in need of hot water. Keeping the levers turned to the hot side will continually draw hot water, even when you’re not using it.
- Wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible.
- Wash and dry full loads of laundry when possible. Use appropriate load-size settings.
- Remove lint from dryer screen with each use.
- Carry reusable grocery bags (some stores even give you a cash bonus for using these!)
- Return plastic grocery bags to the store – many places recycle them!
- Replace plastic storage containers with glass. These are better for the environment and YOU too!! (+ they’re microwave and dishwasher safe!)
- Pack your own lunch – there’s less to throw away!
- Invest in reusable, eco-friendly eating utensils for packed lunches.
- Buy at bulk warehouses like Costco, there’s often less packaging.
- Donate and / or repurpose unwanted items.
- Shop secondhand. It’s fun, you get great deals, and it’s pretty much waste-free!
- Actually recycle your recyclable materials.
- Use up what you have before buying new items.
- Drink tap water (or get a filtered pitcher / bottle) instead of buying bottled water.
- Reusable mugs, cups, and bottles are often accepted at many coffee shops and food chains.
- Throw something away only if you’re certain it can’t be donated or recycled.
- Support companies that use recycled or eco-friendly materials whenever possible.
- Research the ways to properly dispose of hazardous materials where you live.
- If you see litter, pick it up and dispose of it properly.
- Purchase eggs marked “pasture raised” or from a local specialty store or a Farmer’s Market nearby. These are your best bet for humanely sourced eggs. This will be easier to find if you live in a more rural area. Check online forums if you don’t know where to look.
- Embrace ideas like “Meatless Mondays” to consume less animal products.
- Meat is found to be produced more humanely if it is considered “pasture raised.” Learn more about that here.
- Keep in mind that “cage-free” and “free range” are not necessarily going to be humanely sourced.
- Go dairy-free if you can – but keep a look out for humanely sourced meat – without added hormones.
- Go vegetarian if you can – but keep a look out for humanely sourced dairy – without added hormones.
- Go vegan if you can.
- Purchase synthetic leather or fur (if you must purchase authentic, buy it secondhand)
- Support companies that sport the PETA or Leaping Bunny logos on their packaging.
- Support companies that make their Fair-Trade status known.
- Support companies that are against sweatshops.
- Support companies that give their employees a liveable wage.
- Support organizations that are making efforts to end human rights violations worldwide.