Eight Easy Changes You Can Make Right Now to do the Environment a Favor
Eight Easy Changes You Can Make Right Now To Do The Environment A Favor
Before I met my husband, I was living unconsciously and making a lot of thoughtless choices. If you would have asked me if I was passionate about the environment and making conscious choices, I would have said yes! But that would have been pretty far from the truth.
I was so conditioned to consumer culture that I didn't realize I was making a lot of small choices throughout the day that contributed to environmental damage. In NYC and most of America in my experience, the single-use throw away culture is so engrained in us that we don't even realize we are active participants. Can you go to any to-go restaurant and not be handed way more than you need? Can you go to the grocery or any convenience store without being given the one item you purchase in a plastic bag? In my experience, the answer has been no to those questions.
Since meeting John and getting more involved in environmental organizations and initiatives, my behavior, outlook, and awareness has completely shifted. What if there was a collective shift in consciousness away from single-use, throw away, and over-consumption culture? Can we actually be happier and feel more free with less? Maybe less beaches would look like this!
One of the world's most commonly shared quotes is: BE. THE. CHANGE. I don't think the below list of changes are radical or even difficult, but if lots of people make shifts in their awareness, the impact can be massive.
Read below and comment on the blog to let me know which changes you've made in your daily life! And thanks, John, for awakening my consciousness and helping me live more gently and thoughtfully.
Please stop buying plastic water bottles. According to several studies, (here is one!) bottled water is no safer than tap water, but much more harmful for the environment. So no health advantage for you and a loss for the environment and your wallet. Sounds not so smart.
Many people end up buying bottled water for the convenience of it. If you fall into this category, place your reusable bottle by the door on the way out of your house, place it in your purse or backpack or leave it at your desk!
2. Carry reusable bags with you!
Put a reusable bag in your bag so when you need one, you have one! Or keep extra bags in your car, or use your arms to carry what you purchase, it's a great and free workout.
3. Invest in reusable silverware, a cup, a lid, and #stopsucking
If you take a sneak peak inside my purse, you'll find a bag of goodies I carry with me at all times. In here you will find my reusable silverware.
I can't tell you how many times I have used this and given back plastic utensils. What if we all did this? Stores would order less plastic, less plastic would end up in the ocean and therefore in the stomachs of fish, ultimately leading to less plastic in YOUR belly (if you eat fish) or the bellies of people you love.
Last point: Did you know we use 500 million plastic straws every day in the U.S? Did you know many of those plastic straws end up in our oceans, polluting the water and harming sea life? If we don’t act now, by 2050 plastics in the ocean will outweigh the fish. One small change can have a big impact: #stopsucking on plastic straws by employing one of the following two options: a) just don't use them or b) invest in a reusable straw.
4. Give back plastic bags, plastic silverware, and extra napkins!
Cashiers are so accustomed to giving you a bag, utensils, and SO many napkins! When checking out, either catch the cashier before they go through the trouble or give it back. And then...
5. Tell people WHY you are giving these items back, nicely!
If you come up with an educational response that is authentic to your own voice and is quick and easy to say, you're doing the world a favor to pass on the information. Knowledge is power! For example, I like to say: "Oh no thank you, I try not to use plastic because it's harmful to the environment" or "I'd like to give you these things back because I try not to use single-use plastics. Did you know that most of it ends up in the ocean and then if we eat fish we eat plastic'?" Whenever I say this, I always have a smile on my face and am exuding positive and genuine energy.
6. Ride your bicycle, carpool, or take public transportation.
The biggest change in my quality of life since meeting my now-husband has been riding a bicycle for transportation instead of taking the subway and cabs. Unless it's below 30 degrees and/or snowing, cycling around NYC is the fastest and most pleasurable way to get around town, and it saves me lots of money! One bike + helmet = $150 (annual cost = $150); one monthly subway pass = $121 (annual cost = $1,452). ANNUAL SAVINGS = $1,302
7. Eat vegetarian one day a week and then increase! :)
Do you know that the reason I became a vegetarian is because I saw a graph in an 1-credit environmental studies class in college that showed it takes exponentially more fossil fuel to produce meat than it does to produce vegetables? I have no idea why this graph affected me so much as I'd seen loads of graphs throughout school and effectively paid zero attention, but it did and I quit eating meat.
Since then, I've watched countless documentaries and read Eating Animals (a book everyone should read, but warning you will never want to eat chicken or pork in particular again...) and love eating vegetarian. I don't miss or want for anything and my body feels fantastic and healthy and my digestion is easy.
Maybe you aren't ready to give up meat, but what if you committed to eating vegetarian 1-2 days a week? Or one week out of the month? Give it a try and let me know if you see any changes in your physical health.
8. Reduce your consumption of things, in general.
When I returned from Asia this winter after being gone for four months, I was disgusted by the amount of things I had in my apartment when I returned home. I didn't shop or buy myself anything new for months. In May, I went to Uganda and had just felt myself slipping back into American consumer culture, and Uganda was a perfect and timely reminder. I don't use or need half of the things that I have and having less actually makes me feel way more free.
Whenever I purchase a "thing" now, I try to remember to ask myself - do you need this? Nearly 100% of the time, the answer is no.
Do I sometimes still buy myself something nice as a treat? Of course, especially if I'm supporting a local artist or craftsman, but asking myself this question leads to way more intelligent and thoughtful purchasing decisions.
8 Simple Steps you can take to make a difference and live more consciously and gently on this earth. It is my hope you found this post helpful. Please leave me a comment and let me know if you are able to make any changes in your lifestyle.