9 Incredibly Easy Things You Can Do This Week to Help Our Environment
Of course, change isn’t going to happen overnight, but here are some tips to help us all work at it day by day.
Last year was the warmest year on record – again. According to NOAA and NASA, this also means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000. The earth’s oceans in 2016 were 1.1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial average, which means we’re already a majority of the way to the 1.5-degree warming goal set at the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. If we want to keep our commitments we’ve got to get to work fast, here are some ideas for you on where to start this week.
- Write a letter or postcard to your government representative. It may not be the sexiest action on climate, but it is effective and simple. Find your representative’s contact information here, and express your support for environmental justice.
- Go vegan or vegetarian for a day. We use a crazy amount of land and resources to support our meat-heavy diets. 30% of the earth’s land mass is currently used to raise animals for food and it takes 1,850 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef vs the 39 gallons it takes to produce a pound of vegetables.
- To-go cups. Water bottles have become extremely popular and even fashionable. However, coffee thermoses haven’t caught on quite as much. Bring your to-go cup to your local coffee shop – most will even give you a discount for doing so.
- Buy 5 shopping bags. Many of us have great intentions and buy the reusable shopping bag when we check-out. However, they often get lost or you forget them next time you go to the store. Make a point of buying 3-5 bags next time you go shopping and stash them everywhere – the trunk of your car, purse, on your coat rack next to your front door. Then you’re sure not to arrive at the store empty-handed.
- Declutter your closet. It’s estimated that for every item of clothing you donate, you reduce 27 pounds of carbon emissions. Take those clothes that have been sitting in your closet forever to the nearest thrift shop, Goodwill, or donation center.
- Throw a dinner party. Next time the food in your fridge is about to go bad, instead of throwing it all away, invite your friends over for dinner! Make pizza with everything but the kitchen sink. In the US, food waste is estimated between 30-40 percent of the total food supply. Let’s start fixing that number right now.
- Carpool with coworkers. Take a minute to ask around your office about potential carpooling opportunities between you all. You’re all going to the same place anyway, and if you take turns you might get some extra time to read and save on gas money. It’s a win-win.
- Turn off your electronics. Think about all your electronics plugged in and left on throughout the day and night. There’s no need for your computer to be on while you’re sleeping, so hit the power button and save yourself and the environment some “phantom” energy, which could account for as much as 5 to 10 percent of your energy bill.
- Shop naked. Next time you hit the grocery store, take inventory of the items in your cart. How much of it is packaged? If you make a point of shopping for food items that aren’t covered in plastic or multiple layers of packaging, you’ll not only live more sustainably, but you’ll most likely be eating healthier; as “naked” foods are usually fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.