In acknowledgment of World Environment Day, we’ve put together a list of simple changes to your routine that will lower your carbon footprint and help the environment!
You can use a basic carbon footprint calculator to see just where you stand, and when you’re done here’s a few simple things you can try in order to be more eco-friendly:
The first and foremost step to help the environment is recycling. Whether it’s actually recycling your waste or reusing something for a different or similar purpose, it’s a must when you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint. Read into it and go little by little, don’t get intimidated by the complicated system. If you’re not sure what’s recyclable- ask around or google it. And before you throw something away, try to think of any alternative uses it may have. For instance, mason jars can be used to store food, old magazines look cool as wrapping paper or envelopes, old clothes double as good rags for cleaning, etc. Get thinking and get creative with your old stuff!
Reusable bottles, cups, straws, bags, etc
Essentially, swap any single-use plastic for its longer lasting counter. Instead of constantly buying and throwing away plastic water bottles, it’s better for your environment (and cheaper for your wallet) to get a metal bottle and take it with you. A lot of restaurants and cafés are willing to make your meal in your own container, and your drink in your own cup! Add a metal/silicone straw to the mix and you’re saving hundreds of single-use plastics from the ocean. Also, don’t forget your reusable bag next time you go grocery shopping!
Every year the average American buys around 68 new clothing items, and you may not think that that’s such a bad thing- until you learn that we keep it for half as long as we used to. Those clothes often end up in a landfill (yes, even the ones you donate). Textile production is producing a lot of green-house gasses, enough to measure up to all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Plus, there’s a lot of waste being made during production of clothing items. One massive difference you can make is literally just buying second-hand. Also, the longer you wear your garments- the smaller your carbon footprint is.
We’re all well aware of the pollution caused by cars. A simple way to reduce this is by riding a bicycle (or e-scooter) whenever possible. If you’re afraid you live too far away from work to cycle there, commit to riding your bike during your free time when running errands. By some sources, riding your bike for half a mile makes ten times less CO2 emissions than a car. And instead of driving there yourself, you can hitch a ride with a co-worker or friend- think about all the carpool jam sessions!
Planting native plants and no pesticides
Native plants are plants that have had thousands of years to adapt to your specific environment- meaning the require less watering, less fertilising, and pesticides. They also promote biodiversity and actually help your local wildlife by providing shelter and food. Another bonus is ditching the pesticides. That way you’ll be saving not only the bugs, but also the animals that depend on them for a meal. Not to mention that it’ll keep your garden healthier.
Growing your own food or buying locally grown food
Herb gardens and apartment-grown veggies are a big trend that will no doubt save you a lot of money. All you really need is a place in your garden (or a flowerpot, if you’re in an apartment) to grow some herbs and vegetables. This way you can make sure that you’re not eating any pesticides, preservatives, or chemicals that may be harmful to you. However, if you don’t really have a green thumb, a good alternative is to buy locally. Support your local farmers and market places. Apart from saving small farm land, think about the drastic difference in transport pollution you’d be cutting.
Buy in bulk
A lot of stores now offer food in bulk- pasta, spices, rice, dried fruits, honey, oats, nuts, seeds, and even frozen vegetables and meat. You’re also saving quite the penny because there’s no packaging. It’s said that 45% of waste in landfills are from packaging and containers, so you’ll definitely be doing your bit in decreasing that statistic. Not to mention all the CO2 emissions saved by transporting since shipping bigger quantities uses less gas.
Should you really throw that food away?
Think about all the food you throw away. You may not even realise it, but it’s a lot. Around 1.3 billion tonnes of food goes to waste every year, which is one third of the food produced for human consumption. So, you should really be asking yourself whether or not that food item you’re about to throw away is really meant for the trash. Learn about the true expiration dates for all your regular food items (some of which can last quite a while), because expiration dates focus on quality- not safety. Another way to reduce food waste is actually done in restaurants when you don’t finish your meal, so don’t be too shy and ask for a doggie bag- you paid for it! A bonus neat trick is to keep track of all the food items you’re throwing away. This will not only tell you what items you should be buying in smaller quantities (remember those bananas that seem to get too ripe overnight?), but it’ll also get you thinking about all the food that you have to use before it goes bad.
There you go! Once you accommodate these changes and get used to them, we encourage you to look deeper into a eco-friendly lifestyle that will help even further, such as zero waste, vegetarianism/veganism, minimalism, and many more.