This just in: the Earth's in trouble and it's up to us to save it. That's the bad news. The good news? Lifestyle changes by folks like you and me can go a long way toward mitigating the effects of climate change and saving the Earth from imminent disaster.
Now, if the phrase "lifestyle change" overwhelms you, STAY WITH ME! More important than a total lifestyle overhaul (which can be as overwhelming as it is unrealistic) are small, sustainable changes.
This isn't about success or failure, this is about every little bit of good work adding up to a better world. Hank Green, Scientist, Author, and Creator
In a recent video titled "When It All Seems Like Too Much" scientist, author, and creator extraordinaire Hank Green had the following to say about stopping climate change: "We are not working toward a 'fixed' state, we are working toward a better place on the spectrum of bad. This isn't about success or failure, this is about every little bit of good work adding up to a better world."
And that's where you and I come in.
So, come on, take a deep, cleansing breath with me and choose one or two of these eco-friendly resolutions that you can, realistically, commit to and add your little bit of good to the environment.
What is the environmental impact of a load of laundry? If you're like me and like your clothes tumble dried the answer is ... not great! According to a 2010 feature in The Guardian, simply doing one load of laundry every two days can create the same CO2e emissions as a flight from Glasgow, Scotland to London, England (complete with a 15-minute taxi ride to the airport). But you can drastically cut down your energy usage by ditching your dryer for a clothesline or rack - this switch will reduce your CO2e emissions by about 2,400 pounds a year.
Laundry racks and clothes lines are inexpensive and can be adapted for almost all living situations. Live in a small apartment? Grab a folding clothes rack! Do you have a yard? Opt for a nice, standing clothesline. Your clothes and the environment will thank you. Here are some jumping off points for you to find the perfect option for your home:
The fact that plastic shopping bags are bad for the environment isn't breaking news. Fortunately, countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Australia and even China are working to stem the plastic tide by banning the use of plastic grocery bags. Though some U.S cities have moved to tax or ban single-use plastic bags, the U.S uses 100 billion plastic bags each year with the average family taking home about 1,200 each.
What can you do about it? Trade your single-use bags for reusable ones! If you're not particularly crafty, fear not! You can buy reusable produce bags, grocery totes, sandwich bags, and even cling film. But if you're more into DIY? The options ABOUND. You can make your own reusable shopping bags from old t-shirts, leftover fabric, feed bags, yarn, used Capri Sun packets and, get this, plastic shopping bags you have but don't know what to do with.
Make Your Own
Buy Your Own
It's not easy being green. Kermit the Frog, Public Figure
The greatest challenge in making the shift from plastic to reusable? REMEMBERING THOSE GOSH DARN BAGS. Other than that, they're pretty easy to use but, just in case, check out Treehugger's 10 Commandments of Reusable Bag Use.
When it comes to food, your buying choices are impactful! When you can, buy produce that is organic. Though it's a bit more expensive, organic food is meant to be grown in a way that is sustainable and that prevents soil degradation and groundwater pollution. It's also designed to naturally mitigate the greenhouse effect. And, as far as benefits go, not only are you buying food that has a more positive impact on the earth, you're also consuming fewer pesticides.
Local food also benefits the environment because farmers and distributors travel fewer miles (and emit less CO2e) to get their wares from farm to consumer. Find the farmer's markets closest to you:
Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It's a charming, floating island of plastic debris hovering in the seas between Hawaii and California. So far, it's twice the size of the state of Texas, and it's not alone. In the oceans today there are five ever-growing "islands" made of the world's discarded plastic, not least among which are plastic bottles. According to Ban the Bottle, Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year alone (yet, each individual only recycled 38 bottles to his or her yearly total of 167).You can help by limiting the number of plastic bottles that you use as much as you possibly can.
Thirsty? Try drinking your water from a reusable water bottle or drinking home-filtered water. The H2O quality is the same (or better) as the bottled water you crave and will be kinder to your wallet - a single filter can effectively replace about 300 standard, plastic water bottles.
One last thing: Changing our daily habits is essential to combat climate change, but it's not enough. In addition to adopting some of these steps into your daily life, consider helping us support small-scale farmers around the world who are growing food AND healing the planet.