According to Gallup, 83 percent of Americans are supportive of the environmental movement. There are some simple steps that everyone can take to live a green lifestyle, including recycling, conserving water and keeping the heat at 68 degrees during the winter. However, statistics indicate that 45 percent of the waste that could be recycled still ends up in a landfill.
Additionally, if you truly want to have a positive impact on the planet, it’s important to diversify your eco-friendly actions and think outside the box. After all, there are numerous other ways that you can help the environment, and many of them require only a very minimal amount of time and effort.
1. Begin Telecommuting
Does your workplace offer telecommuting? If so, there are many solid reasons to explore this option. Not only will you get to work from the comfort of home but you can also reduce your carbon emissions and overall energy usage. Studies have proven that telecommuting can cut office equipment energy use in half.
The reduction in each person’s carbon footprint also has the potential to be a game changer. In fact, if half the American workforce telecommuted for 50 percent of their work week, this would result in an annual emissions reduction of 54 million tons. The nation would also consume 640 million fewer barrels of oil each year.
2. Choose Eco-Friendly Clothing
Clothing waste is a huge issue that clogs landfills and threatens the environment. By far, the best thing you can do is get as much usage out of each clothing item as possible. When you’re done with your clothes, donate them to people in need or turn them into cleaning rags.
Another important change you can make is investing in eco-friendly clothing when the time comes to replace a necessary item. For example, Nourished Life’s bamboo clothing utilizes the most eco-friendly fabric available. Bamboo is highly renewable and conserves a lot of water, and it doesn’t require consumers to give up comfort in exchange for upholding their environmental ideals.
3. Use Your Own Take Home Containers
Americans eat out an average of 5.8 times per week. Reducing this number would be better for your waistline, your pocketbook and the environment. However, when you do go out to eat, be sure you have a reusable take home container with you. This will enable you to save your leftovers without creating more waste by using the disposable containers that are provided by most restaurants. Also, if you know you’ll be getting food to go, consider keeping your own reusable silverware with you to prevent usage of plastic alternatives.
4. Buy Bulk Food
Choosing bulk food in lieu of several smaller packages of the same item will cut out a lot of unnecessary waste. Every trip to the grocery store that you’re able to eliminate by buying in bulk will also cut carbon emissions and reduce your gasoline consumption. Be sure to check expiration dates and only buy what you can eat, though. After all, food waste is also harmful to the environment because it typically ends up in a landfill.
Shockingly, 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted worldwide each year, which accounts for one-third of the food on Earth. Even worse, an appalling 40 percent of the food in America ends up in the trash. If you do have too much food to eat before the expiration date, share it with friends, neighbors or a nearby shelter.
5. Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market
Another easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is shopping at your closest farmer’s market. This allows you to get fresh produce while contributing to the local economy. The best part for the environment, though, is the fact that local produce doesn’t have to be shipped nearly as far. Keep in mind that a lot of the produce at the grocery store is shipped in from other states or countries. At a farmer’s market, you can rest assured that you’re buying items from local growers.
6. Steer Clear of Palm Oil
Palm oil is a popular ingredient in beauty and grooming products. It’s also used for a diverse list of other reasons, including detergent and food products. Palm oil can be used as a biofuel, but this may not be enough to offset the negative environmental impact of the oil’s ever-increasing usage.
There have already been some serious side effects that are traced directly to palm oil such as the large-scale conversion of forests and the loss of habit for numerous endangered species. Palm oil plantations are also contributing to air, soil and water pollution, soil erosion and climate change.
7. Look for the Sustainable Certification
Whether you are shopping for toilet paper or a solid wood desk, you can keep your environmental concerns in mind by ensuring each applicable item you purchase has the Forest Stewardship Council certification. Paper and wood products that carry this certification were made using sustainable methods that are intended to protect wildlife and fight global climate change.
8. Utilize Your Local Library
Reading is an important way to continue learning and expanding your mind. Research has found that reading literary fiction even helps people improve their empathy. However, if you’re trying to be eco-friendly, you might be concerned about the environmental impact of printed books and tablets. Fortunately, your local library can solve part of this problem for you. By borrowing books instead of reading them, you’re simultaneously lowering your own carbon footprint and the footprint of each book.
Although it may seem odd to think of a book as having a carbon footprint, the production process that goes into each printing does take its toll on the planet. Reducing the production need by relying on the library is beneficial for your budget too. To get the most out of each trip to the library, be sure to check out as many books as you’ll read before the due date. This will prevent multiple trips back and forth during a short timeframe.
Incorporating even one of these methods into your daily routine will have a positive impact on the environment. If you’re ready to go further, be sure to start using some of the 10 simple ways to make your house more eco-friendly. If every single one of us makes just a few lifestyle changes, we can help make the world better, cleaner and healthier.
Featured photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker via flic.kr