The science is undeniable at this point: our planet is facing threats that pose a clear and present danger to us as a species. Immediate action is necessary if we hope to weather through the changes happening in our environment and continue our way of life, and we all need to do our part.
While most people understand the urgency of the message, they find themselves daunted, not knowing where to start. The good news is that even small, everyday changes can make a positive impact on our environment and encourage others to join eco-friendly causes. Below, we’ve compiled a list of simple lifestyle changes you can make so that you can do your part for the earth:
Cut disposable plastics out of your life
Of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic that we’ve produced since it was invented in the 1950s, 6.3 billion tons of it has become plastic waste and only 9% of it has likely been recycled, according to estimates made by Great Britain’s Royal Statistical Society in 2017. The United Nations projects that if current trends continue, we could be inundated with 12 billion tons of plastic litter by the year 2050.
Plastic takes hundreds of years to degrade, and the numbers above show that we are making and using more of it than we can properly manage. Another jarring statistic is that disposable or single-use plastics make up just over 40% of our total usage of the material. It’s a problem that we can no longer afford to ignore, and the easiest way to solve it is to start eliminating disposable plastic from our daily lives now.
You can reduce your dependence on plastic in many ways. For instance, you can start using a reusable tumbler instead of buying drinks from the store. You can decline plastic cutlery when you dine out and ditch the coffee stirrer when you order a cup of joe. You can also switch to reusable drawstring bags to carry your groceries with. The idea is to identify where we most egregiously use disposables and make the appropriate changes to lessen the burden on the planet.
Make healthier food choices
The devastating impacts of livestock farming on the environment have been widely documented. Meat production contributes 18 to 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions, for one. It also leads to rampant deforestation, water pollution, and land degradation. It takes 25 kilograms of grain and 15,000 liters of water to produce just one kilogram of beef, proving that meat production is inefficient, impractical, and unsustainable.
Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet and cutting down on your meat consumption is always a good idea. It is better for your health and can be cheaper in the long run, plus it lowers your carbon footprint. You don’t have to switch to a plant-based diet entirely; going meatless just once or twice a week can make a difference.
Wear your clothes longer
Fast fashion brands have democratized the industry by bringing trendy styles to the masses almost as soon as they’ve debuted, and at irresistible prices, too. Unfortunately, we are paying for it with more than money. Most fabrics are now synthetic or a synthetic blend, and the manufacturing process for synthetic fabrics use petroleum — this is how the fashion industry contributes 10% to the total greenhouse gas emissions produced worldwide. Just like plastic, these fabrics do not degrade. Research shows that we treat these garments almost the same way we treat single-use plastics, too, and most pieces are worn an average of only 2 to 3 times before being thrown away.
Is it possible to quit fast fashion completely? Absolutely, but sustainable alternatives can be costly or difficult to find. The good news is that you don’t have to give it up; by simply keeping your clothes longer, you can reduce your carbon footprint for that garment by up to 30%. Vintage and thrift stores are also great places to find clothes, often at much lower prices than retail.
Saving the planet doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start by being more mindful of what you do every day while being considerate of the environment. In many ways, living an eco-friendly lifestyle will benefit you and Mother Nature.