Scientists worldwide study the effects of climate change for several decades and record daily reports of environmental pollution, the extinction of rare animal species, and the extinction of plants. In such a situation, it is tempting to give up and say that we can no longer change anything. But this is not the case. Each of us can make our daily life more sustainable.
Some people say that it only takes 21 days to form habits. We’ve found ten easy steps suggested by The Knife to help reduce our negative impact on the planet.
- Hand over unnecessary things for recycling
Try to recycle anything that can be reused instead of going to a landfill. You will be surprised to know how many items you can give a second life.
Kiehl’s cosmetics store generously gives out gifts for all bottles and jars of their products. Cosmetic brand Lush is also offering shoppers to return used product packaging in exchange for a face mask. The bottles are recycled and used for new containers for creams, shampoos, and shower gels.
- Cut meat and milk consumption
Agriculture is a significant contributor to water pollution and causes massive damage to animal and plant habitats. In addition, cattle breeding facilities “poison” the atmosphere with greenhouse gas and methane emissions from cows. Therefore, consider reducing the amount of meat and dairy products on your menu. This will add variety to your usual diet and make your eating habits more meaningful.
For starters, you can skip meat on a specific day of the week. For example, on Mondays. Try rice, soy, coconut, or almond milk. Buy soy yogurt, and you probably won’t even feel the difference. Find interesting vegetarian recipes. Don’t worry; you won’t go hungry – there is a lot of information on the Internet about what foods can replace chicken or beef.
- Discard plastic bags and disposable containers
Polyethylene is resistant to biodegradation, and for this process to be fully completed, it takes from 100 to 400 years, depending on the type of material and the climate.
Want to reduce your environmental impact? Take a closer look at eco-friendly trash bags. Use trendy string bags, canvas and cotton bags to go shopping. Choose a cute reusable bottle instead of buying water in a plastic bag every time. Pay attention to the experience of Greenpeace volunteer Irina Kozlovskikh: she says that she produces no more than 5 kg of garbage per year.
- Save water
At school, teachers insisted that water is an exhaustible resource and, generally speaking, it should be saved, but few of us took it seriously. According to The World Water Organization, global water consumption is doubling every 20 years, more than doubling the population growth rate, so by 2025, demand will exceed supply by 56%. The UN warns that 30% of the world’s population in 50 countries will face water shortages by the same time.
Even though it is the most abundant substance on Earth, 97% of seawater is unusable.
Two-thirds of freshwater is concentrated in glaciers; that is, only 1% is suitable for consumption.
Moreover, only agriculture can use from 75% to 90% of the region’s available water.
If you are sure that there will be enough spare fresh water for your life, then think about what a vast amount of energy resources is spent every second on pumping and filtering it.
Saving one of the most valuable resources on the planet is pretty straightforward. Purchase an aerator from the hardware store: it adds small air bubbles to the water, reducing spattering and consumption by 20% while maintaining pressure. Or, for example, a mixer with a blocker, thanks to which you can save several liters of water when washing dishes.
Repair the dripping tap, do not be lazy to turn it off while brushing your teeth, check the plumbing for leaks – all these simple manipulations will help save not only the planet’s water resources but also reduce utility bills.
- Stop using harmful chemicals
Many popular household cleaning products are dangerously toxic. This is another boring truth that we regularly hear – and regularly ignore. Paints, oils, ammonia, and other solutions can cause air pollution and can easily penetrate groundwater, so use them thoroughly and do not pour residues anywhere.
Learn to read labels carefully and buy only those companies whose products have been certified and approved by international organizations responsible for the environment. A worthy substitute for harmful household chemicals can be, for example, cleaning products from the Frosch brand. They use ingredients that are safe for humans and do not harm the environment, such as citric acid to remove lime (instead of the usual chlorine) or soda and orange peel, which do a great job with fat. In addition, the company does not test its products on animals.
- Reduce energy and fuel consumption
According to a study by the International Energy Agency, humanity will continue to consume 2% more energy annually for its needs, while the newly discovered oil fields do not give us a comparable increase in our total “energy piggy bank.” Fossil fuels are being depleted, and pollution from coal, natural gas, and oil can cause many serious medical complications and harm the environment.
A full-fledged transition to more environmentally friendly forms of energy is still seen only in the very distant future, so all that remains for us is to save electricity and fuel as much as possible. Without a doubt, such measures will slow down or halt the destruction of habitats of numerous species of animals and plants, minimize carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and thereby reduce the likelihood of global climate change.
Let’s say you have already replaced all incandescent lamps in your apartment with energy-efficient or LED ones. Now try to permanently turn off the lights when moving from one room to another and de-energize all electrical appliances and chargers at night.
Remember that your TV, computer, microwave oven, and washing machine may be in standby mode, which means they waste energy even when not in use.
When buying household appliances, pay attention to their energy consumption. Keep an eye on the condition of your windows and doors, mainly if you use a heater in winter and air conditioning in summer. Cool the house in advance: the air conditioner will consume much more energy if the air in the room is already very hot. Boil only the amount of water you really need in the electric kettle.
To save fuel, try changing your habits. Do not use personal transport unless absolutely necessary, get to work by bike. If you go somewhere by car, think over your route: the longer you sit in a traffic jam, the more carbon dioxide will enter the atmosphere.
- Sort trash
Environmentalists have long been talking about the benefits of separate waste collection.
According to Greenpeace, more than 70% of municipal solid waste, which is now since they end their lives in landfills, can be reused. So far, only 3-5% is being processed.
For plastic, glass, metal, and waste paper to remain clean and then go for recycling, they must be separated even at the stage of waste collection. To do this, you can install at least two garbage containers at home.
- Dispose of batteries and household appliances at a recycling center.
It’s elementary: dispose of used batteries and accumulators according to the instructions and in specially designated places. One such battery can contaminate about 20 square meters of the earth with heavy metals. To avoid this, just turn them in where they should be. And buy a charger at any Ikea store (by the way, they also accept used batteries).
Few people know that even a broken electric kettle or mixer can be properly disposed of.
- Take care of parks and forests
Another sore subject for residents of large cities (especially in Eastern Europe), along with garbage dumps, was the destruction of parks and forests to construct residential buildings and shopping centers.
Plant a forest, watch out for green spaces around – after all, you are more interested than others in trees growing near your house and not another high-rise building.
- Help nature protection funds
Gradually, human activity leads to the disappearance of various types of flora and fauna, the destruction of their habitats. And if you don’t have the opportunity to go to volunteer clean-ups, plant trees, or save animals, choose any foundation you like and help it monthly with your donations.
In addition to large organizations like WWF and Greenpeace, there are many local initiatives. Choose a fund to your liking, provide it with all possible material assistance – and the world will become a little better.
E.g., UAE inhabitants can help Azraq NGO in its brilliant ideas promotion and campaigns. Take a look at their interview for Ecolife.