photo by Holly Young Photography
Today, we’ve become more aware of how our lifestyles and habits directly impact the environment. Thankfully, that awareness has brought action. We’re recycling in record numbers, using more energy-efficient products, and conscientiously choosing brands that are eco-friendly. Your family might be part of this movement. If so, congratulations on reducing your footprint and helping save Mother Earth!
Now, it’s time to boost our efforts. There are simple things we’re already doing to heal the planet. Here’s how you and your family can double the impact:
Take Energy-Savings to a New Level in One Simple Step
When we think of saving energy, switching to low-energy light bulbs, wrapping our hot water tanks in insulation, and keeping our thermostats turned down often come to mind. There’s another very simple step you can take every single day to double your impact: twist the knobs on your shower and faucets just a little more to make sure the water is OFF. Even the slightest drip over an extended period uses an exorbitant amount of energy. It only takes 4,000 drips to equal 1 liter of lost water. So, turn those handles and teach your children to do the same. The earth, and your wallet, will thank you.
Skip the Meat and Soy, and Reach for the Vegetables One Day a Week
Most environmentalists claim the simplest thing we can do to help the planet is to eat less meat. Study after study has shown that consumption of animal products is a major contributor to deforestation, water pollution, and climate change. Now a new study also shows how soy is causing a vast amount of environmental damage. (Soy is the main feed for livestock that supplies fast food chains like Burger King.) One day a week, let’s skip meat and soy, and reach for the veggies. Salads and stir fries makes delicious meals.
Make Your Green Thumb (and Planet) Glow by Planting a Tree (or Ten)
Increased human fossil-fuel consumption over the past two centuries has increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The levels recently surpassed 400 parts per million, the highest level in more than 800,000 years. Each year, a single tree can remove 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air. Imagine how much CO2 would be removed if thousands of trees were planted? When you garden this spring, alongside flowers that help our declining bee populations, make sure to plant some trees. You can also prevent climate change and reduce air pollution by donating trees to countries in need, a quick action that can really double the impact.
Bulk Up Your Shopping, and Go Less Frequently
A large-sized bag of rice, pasta, or nuts uses less plastic than multiple smaller ones. So consider purchasing bulk quantities of foods that last a long time. Make sure to properly store bulk items so they don’t go bad before you’ve had a chance to use them. Bulking up also cuts down on trips to the grocery store, thereby cutting down on fuel use and auto emissions
Donate the Old, Before Buying the New
Recycling doesn’t just apply to cans, newspapers, and plastic containers. Before you purchase something new, like a couch, small appliance, or even a shirt (Americans toss 14 million tons of unwanted clothing each year), donate an old one to a local charity or school. An average American throws away around 1,200 pounds of waste each year that could be donated or composted and kept out of a landfill.
Freeze, Can, and Preserve Your Homegrown Food
Growing your own food reduces the fossil fuel use involved in transporting produce all over the world. Additionally, not using pesticides cuts back on harmful chemicals being released into the air and environment. You’ve worked hard to cultivate rows of fresh produce in your own backyard. Take things up a notch by freezing, canning, and preserving what you’ve grown. It might sound overwhelming, but it’s worth having a year-round supply of organic goodies to eat – for your health and the environment.
Go Beyond-the-Produce Organic
Eating organic foods is a terrific way to help the earth but organic goes way beyond apples and oranges. Did you know that cotton is the second-most chemically sprayed crop in America, second only to corn? Next time you’re shopping, opt for organic T-shirts, leggings, and hats, and choose body care and beauty items that sport an organic seal. (Products that lack proper certification do not meet the requirements of being 100 percent organic.)
Become Part of the Culture, Not Just the Club
Make climate change and environmental awareness part of your social fabric. If you belong to groups like Greenpeace or Sierra Club, see how you can become involved on a local level. Teach others how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Share your best tips on social media. Volunteer to start a small garden at your local school. Launch a neighborhood composting project. Walk the walk each day.
While it might not seem like skipping one meal of meat a week will make much of a difference, over time, all these little changes add up to a positive impact on the environment.
What are you doing to double your impact? Share in the comments!