Healing our planet sounds like a task for an army of Green Giants. And the truth is, it is. But it doesn’t need to involve a massive overhaul of your own life if you want to make meaningful positive changes in the environment. The overall effect can be huge if everyone commits to just a few small changes to their lifestyle.
But breaking out of old habits and starting new ones can certainly be challenging, even with the best intentions. It can take weeks or even months!
Nevertheless, you can be successful if you do one thing: be consistent. Consistency is key to making new habits become automatic and routine. Being mindful and intentional will help you be consistent. It’s also best to start with some small actions that don't need much preparation so you can start the transition immediately. Try to focus on one habit until it becomes natural, then you can add on from there. And don’t beat yourself up if you make a few missteps along the way. That is bound to happen.
The main thing is that you’re making changes that you know are well worth the effort. Changes that will ultimately help nurse our planet back to health so everyone can live a happier, healthier life right now and in the future. It's not an exhaustive list, but it will give you inspiration and ideas about where to start.
Food waste – Two of the most significant challenges are buying food that goes uneaten and improper food storage. One way to deal with these dilemmas is by planning your meals. With meal planning, you’ll have a better sense of what you need to buy and how to store it when you bring it home. Some items might need to be frozen or stored in well-sealed containers until you plan to use them.
It also helps to take inventory of the items in your fridge every week (or more often), so you know what might be on its way to becoming a furry science project. Another action to consider is starting a composting routine with items that are no longer edible.
Plastic and other waste – Avoiding single-use plastic will go a long way to help keep the landfills from overfilling. Recycling plastic can be helpful, but it’s better to reuse or repurpose when you can. Reusable water bottles and coffee cups are simple ways to reduce waste. And remember to bring your reusable bags to the grocery store.
Household cleaners – Clean indoor environments are vital to our health. The problem is traditional cleaning products release harmful chemicals into our air and down our drains. I won’t list all the chemicals to avoid, but you can find them listed here. Reading labels and researching is the only way to know if what you’re using is safe.
Skin and body care – Another concern is what we put on our skin. With skin being a highly absorbent organ, being careful to choose natural skincare ingredients is a high priority. Toxins in skin care also get washed down the drain and pollute the environment. Again, read labels and know what ingredients to avoid. (Psst…all-natural, toxin-free products are our thing, so we’ve got you covered.)
Organic food – Support the use of non-chemical methods of farming whenever you can. Look for the “USDA Organic” seal on the label.
EAT LOCAL PRODUCE
Shop at your local farmer’s market – Eating local food whenever possible will cut down on emissions that come from shipping food over long distances. The farmer’s market is a great way to support local farmers, reduce pollution, and eat healthier food.
Grow your own – If you have the time for it, growing your own vegetables is also an excellent way to eat healthier and eliminate pollution from shipping.
Take fewer showers – Fear of offending others might be a motivator to hop in the shower daily. But, honestly, most of us can probably go two or three days between showers. You might want to shower more often if you have a physically demanding job or sweat a lot because you exercise. But sitting at a desk most of the day will not likely make you dirty.
Manage faucet flow – The most common tip you hear is to turn off the water while brushing your teeth. You can also conserve water by operating your faucet at less than full force when washing your hands or doing dishes.
Landscape with drought-tolerant plants – This will be crucial if you live in a place where rain is a rare event. Either way, it's always a great idea to adorn your yard with native plants that need little water or extra attention.
USE LESS ENERGY
Adjust the thermostat – Try to keep your thermostat a couple of degrees warmer or cooler than usual, depending on the season. Wear less or more clothing to make yourself more comfortable.
Turn off lights – Limit the use of lights as much as possible (as long as you can safely see where you're going, of course). Open the shades and let natural sunlight in wherever possible.
Switch to LED lightbulbs – This will save up to 75% of energy compared to incandescent lighting.
Unplug devices – Some appliances and devices can easily be unplugged when you’re not using them. Computers, laptops, printers, phone chargers, TVs, game consoles, and more can be removed from the socket overnight to stop them from draining energy. Or turn off power strips to shut down multiple items at once.
Carpool – If you drive to work daily, it’s worth looking into carpooling. But you can carpool for many other trips too. It takes some effort and planning but is well worth it.
“Trip chain” – Combine errands, like going to the gym or the grocery store, into one trip to reduce car emissions.
Ride your bike – Reduce air pollution and get some exercise at the same time. Double whammy!
CHOOSE GREEN PRODUCTS
Support companies that use sustainable practices or donate some of their profits to environmental causes. Do some research to find companies you trust for everyday things you buy.
EAT LESS MEAT
Research shows that a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions come directly from the meat industry. Cutting down on the consumption of meat, especially red meat, will help reduce this negative effect on climate change.
Some of these ideas are easy to start implementing today, but some might be more involved and require a more extensive time investment to accomplish. Remember to start small and be kind to yourself in the process. And then pat yourself on the back for being part of the solution.