For any sort of diehard environmentalist, Earth Day was pretty much the Super Bowl Sunday of the sustainability world (it can’t just be coincidence that it fell on a Sunday this year, right?). This annual event is a great opportunity to acknowledge our beautiful planet that needs to be taken care of. Like anything precious or of value, our earth needs to be protected, and sometimes we need a little bit of a reminder. Did you forget to celebrate Earth Day this year? Well you’re in luck – it is never too late for a belated celebration!
Let’s be honest – we require this planet more than it requires us to survive. Us humans do many things on a daily basis that generate waste and contribute to the pollution of air, earth and water. While “going green” can be see as an intrusive and intimidating commitment for many, there are a few small changes you can incorporate into your everyday routine that can make a huge different on your own footprint.
Recycle the Basics
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is undoubtedly one of the first “Green” skills we all learn in elementary school (likely because it is very simple to do). Just by recycling the basics, we can easily reduce how much waste ends up in landfills and the amount of pollution that is produced in the manufacturing process. Not only this, but we are also limiting how much material we are consuming overall (ergo: recycling). Here are a few points to put this into perspective:
Plastic: can take up to ONE THOUSAND years to fully compose. Even worse, it can still be in the soil percolating dangerous chemicals for up to THIRTY generations later.
Aluminum: can take up to TWO THOUSAND years to fully decompose.
Glass: NEVER will decompose. What does this mean? They’ll be filling up our landfills for at least another million years.
Paper: can decompose very quickly, however trees take a very long time to grow back. The cost just isn’t worth the value.
Many cities make this very easy to overcome with regular recycling and waste pickup, along with compost pickup.
Walk/Bike Shorter Trips
Not only does this save on a ton of carbon emissions, but you’ll be doing your own health some good as well! Vehicle emissions is especially a problem in densely populated cities, even though a high majority of trips are just a short distance away (ironic, isn’t it?). However, it does not take fully ditching your wheels to make a difference. Take the extra time to jog to the store, or walk to a friend’s house. How about a short bike ride on your lunch break? The exercise will help increase your afternoon activity, and your coworkers will surely be jealous of your Vitamin D induced glow! Talk about a triple win.
Don’t Abuse Your Thermostat
Sure, winter heating and summer AC’ing make your life a little more comfortable, however it isn’t rocket science to know that they consumer a lot of energy. Taking on an “a little goes a long way” mantra is an effective way to reduce your overall footprint without reducing the size of your wallet. Here are some ways to make this a reality:
Turn your thermostat up a few degrees in the summer when nobody is home, whilst turning it down a few degrees in the winter when nobody is home.
Limit the draft within your home by ensuring that windows and fireplaces are properly sealed.
In the summer, ditch the AC all together by utilizing a fan or dehumidifier.
“Smart Thermostats” do the work for you by following a set schedule, making going green even easier.
Bedding – utilize blankets in the winter months and light, breathable bedding in the summer.
Don’t Be a “Faucet Fanatic”
Did you know it is estimated that 95% of water coming out of our faucets is wasted? The average family in Africa gets less than 3% of the average individual in North America (yes, you read that correctly). If you are one of those people who leaves the faucet running while brushing your teeth, then you have already wasted equivalent to the amount of water most African families get in a whole day. Additionally, just think how many gallons you waste while waiting for the shower to warm up, or even by watering your lawn during a rain spell. No one expects you to be perfect, however opting to reduce your own guilt by simply turning off the tap can conserve gallons of that precious H2O.
Choose Reusable Drinkware
Sure, disposable drink ware that is handed to you at the drive-through window is certainly convenient, but have you ever stopped to think how bad these paper/plastic/styrofoam cups are for our landfills? To put this into perspective, billions upon billions of plastic water bottles wind up in our landfill each year, with even more littering our oceans. Opt for a reusable coffee cup or water bottle the next time you visit your local coffee shop – you may even receive a discount off of your purchase!
In the busy world we live in today, it can sometimes be very challenging for us to gain a little perspective. We may each just be 1 in 7 billion, however even small actions can have the greatest consequences. Environmental sustainability doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. By incorporating these routines into your daily life, you can sleep a little better at night knowing you’re making a positive impact on the world around you. Many of these tools require minimum energy, cost, time, or even thought – so no excuses!
Need a hand getting started? Pick up a Cupanion and join the movement to reduce single use.