Preserving our planet has never been as critical as it is now. Our population keeps growing, we are consuming resources at a rate the planet can’t sustain, are oceans are filling up with garbage, our waterways and soils are filling up with toxic chemicals, our climate is changing, natural habitats are being destroyed, species are becoming endangered at a faster rate than ever before and we are at a point where we need to take action!
I do not tell you these things to depress you. I tell you these things to inspire you because there has never been a better time to make earth saving changes and there are so many things you can do about all of these issues!
This healthy earth habits post is about showing you simple steps you can take in the direction of saving our planet. To really make lasting and sustainable changes we not only need to take responsibility at an individual level, but also hold companies, governments, and organizations accountable in helping us by making earth friendly practices easier. We can do that not only by making more conscious choices ourselves but also by spreading the message so others can do the same.
Why bother to take action?
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” –Dr. Seuss
The earth is the one thing we all share so let’s band together and preserve it!
This post is broken down into six different sections, or what I like to call “Areas of Impact.” The sections are as follows:
- Reduce Waste
- Conserve Resources
- Protect Wildlife
- Eat with the Environment in Mind
- Harness the Power of Conscious Consumerism
- Inspire and Influence Change
Each section contains everything I could possibly find or think of for changes people could make and habits people can integrate to help preserve our planet. In no way do I expect everyone to do everything on this list, and you may already be doing several of them. I just wanted to include everything I could so people could find which things they feel they can best incorporate into their lives and be inspired to do more.
This post is not about the things you feel you can’t do. It is about discovering and being more aware of things you can do!
If you do not have time to read the whole post now I recommend you skim through it then bookmark the post, while also adding it to your task list or scheduling a time in your calendar when you can sit down and spend more time with it. Trust me, this post is worthwhile of your time. Most sections also contain links with other helpful info and resources that are worth reviewing.
Right now is a good time to download the Free Healthy Earth Habits Guide and Tracker This will help you prioritize and track the changes you do decide to make as well as provide additional helpful tools for some of the tips. Start picking a few things you can integrate within the month and once you’re successful come back to the post and add some more. Make sure you also share this post so it gets in front of as many people as possible.
Let’s get started!
- Don’t drink bottled water! Current data shows that 35 billion bottles of water are sold annually. Producing the bottles just for American consumption takes more than 17 million barrels of oil and produces more than 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide. For every liter of bottled water sold, it takes 3 liters of water to create it. There is a very simple solution to this problem: filter your own water at home and carry around a reusable water bottle. You can even get bottles that filter the water for you when you are traveling or out and about.
- Just say no to straws! In just the United States, 500 million straws are used every day and thrown away. Straws do not biodegrade, are hard to recycle, and take hundreds of years to break down. They are one of the top 10 items picked up on beach clean-ups, polluting our oceans, and harming our sea turtles. If you must drink out of straws carry your own reusable straw. #StopTheStraw
- Bring your own shopping bags. According to the EPA, we use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps yearly, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create. Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year when animals mistake them for food. Don’t stop at shopping bags. Also bring your own reusable produce bags or just don’t use them. Except for delicate leafy greens, most fruits and vegetables don’t need a bag if you are washing your produce (which you should be doing anyway.)
- Replace disposable items with reusable options. In addition to the items I just discussed, pretty much any disposable can be traded in for a more reusable option. I created a post listing alternatives to replace pretty much every single disposable item you can think of with a reusable option.
- Create a reusable product on-the-go kit. It can include things like a reusable coffee cup when visiting your local coffeehouse, reusable cutlery, reusable bags, container for leftover food, and cloth napkins. You can keep these things in your car or keep smaller, frequently used items in your purse.
- Make online shopping more eco-friendly. There are even ways to make online shopping eco-friendlier. I’ve already talked about for Amazon orders but similar rules apply for all online shopping. Place larger orders, don’t rush shipping, email the seller asking to not include any unnecessary plastic packaging, and reuse and recycle any packaging pieces you can.
- Embrace the digital age. Going digital and refusing paper as much as possible can help both the environment and your sanity by not having paper all over the place. Switch paper bills to ebills, make digital notes and lists, use an online calendar, select the option to email receipts, consider switching to an e-reader, and don’t print paper unless necessary.
- Refuse things that you don’t need. Just because it’s free does not mean you need it. Say no to things like promotional pens, magnets, and free samples unless it is something you really want to try. Take steps to reduce your junk mail and use your phone to take pictures of flyers, business cards, or pamphlets instead of taking them.
- Upcycle what you can. Before sending an item to the recycling or trash bin ask yourself: Could this item have another use in my life? Glass jars have so many uses, this article shows 50 creative ways to repurpose, reuse and upcycle old things.
- Know the lifecycle of your garbage. A great way to understand the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling is to understand the lifecycle of your trash and how long things take to decompose. A glass bottle can take one million years or more (can be recycled over and over again), plastic waste of any kind can take 200-1000 years (standard plastics don’t biodegrade they photodegrade breaking down into smaller microplastics when exposed to light), paper waste 2-6 weeks, aluminum cans 80-200 years, Styrofoam 500 years or more. Consider conducting an audit of your trash cans to see what you are regularly throwing away.
- Learn the proper way to recycle. Of course recycling is important, but learning the proper way to recycle and what can be recycled in your area is even more important. For example containers with food waste need to be rinsed first or it can contaminate the whole bin. Receipts printed on thermal paper should not be recycled as they contain a high amount of BPA. Here are some examples of what not to put in the recycling bin, how to properly recycle plastics, and the most important items to recycle. You can actually recycle more items than you think. Search Earth911.com and enter what you would like to recycle and your zip code to find the best way to recycle different items in your area. Use the recycling sheet in the Free Healthy Earth Habits Guide to record your findings and for additional tips on how to recycle.
- Next to every trash can have a recycling bin. Even if you need to sort your recycling at a later point, this will make it really easy to keep things out of the trash. Bonus points if your recycling container is bigger than your trash can.
- Understand hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines household hazardous waste as, “products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic.” This description includes items such as paints and stains, most conventional household cleaners, automotive products, garden chemicals, batteries, electronics, and compact fluorescent lightbulbs or other mercury containing items. Even pharmaceuticals and personal care products can be classified as hazardous household waste. Google how to safely dispose of hazardous waste in your area or do a search on Earth911 to find proper disposal solutions. Use the hazardous waste disposal guide in the Free Healthy Earth Habits Guide to record your findings.
- Recycle harder to recycle items. Now that you know how to recycle and properly dispose of waste, what do you do with those items that are harder to recycle locally? Terracycle offers recycling programs for pretty much anything that you may have a harder time recycling locally through their free recycling programs and zero waste box program. To take these recycling initiatives further, get people in your community involved and see if you can find a central drop off spot like a school, church, or community center.
- Find unloved items a home. With the trend of minimizing, clearing clutter, and living with less, people are getting rid of household items at a faster rate than ever. That is good as long as you are taking the time to find them a new home. There are so many options for getting rid of unwanted items. You can choose to either sell your old stuff or donate items towards a worthy cause. The point is there is no reason for things to end up in the dump.
- Compost your food scraps! Food waste that is sealed in garbage bags and ends up in a landfill alongside other garbage takes much longer to breakdown and ends up producing a significant amount of greenhouse gas in the process. Organic matter needs two things to break down; insects and oxygen. These things are not easily found in a landfill. Composting, on the other hand, is the process of using these processes to create a nutrient-rich soil. Here are some tips of what to compost and how to start one in your own yard. Even with no or limited outdoor space. Not ready to do the composting yourself? Do what I did and start a freezer compost bin (I used a plastic cereal container I already had) to collect food scraps until you can take it somewhere like a farmers market or a community compost. You can use the composting cheat sheet in the Free Healthy Earth Habits Guide for a quick reference of what you can and can’t compost.
- DIY personal care products. Making more of your own beauty and personal care products not only reduces packaging waste but also helps eliminate the toxic ingredients that are bad for the environment and you.
- Green your cleaning routine. You can clean pretty much anything with simple, safe ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and even vodka. The book Easy Green Cleaning shows you not only how to reduce your waste by using more reusable materials but also how to eliminate toxic chemicals from your cleaning routine. You can also check out the green cleaning resources for a list of helpful ingredients and tools.
- Catch microfibers in your washing machine. Microfiber pollution is a term used to describe the tiny fibers that shed from our synthetic fabrics when washing our clothes. They then make their way into our waterways which contaminates our fish and pollutes our oceans. It’s unrealistic to expect people to stop manufacturing, buying, and using synthetic materials for fabrics, not to mention what we would do with all the synthetic clothing and cloths already in use. The solution needs to be catching the microfibers from leaving your washing machine. There are already some products that do this like the GuppyFriend Washing Bag and this Lint LUV-R filter but we really need to rally support from washing machine manufacturers to come up with a permanent, widespread solution for this problem.
- Ditch dry cleaning whenever possible. Perchloroethylene, also known as PERC, is the common chemical used to dry clean your clothes. PERC is not only considered a toxic air pollutant by the EPA, but can make its way into our groundwater as well. Then there is the waste that goes along with dry cleaning like the plastic bags and metal hangers (those should be returned or recycled as scrap metal). Dry cleaning may seem like a necessary evil, but many things that say “dry clean only” can be hand washed, cleaned using this DIY Dry Cleaning method, or taken to a more environmentally friendly dry cleaners in your area.
- Be an eco-friendly pet owner. The most important thing is to keep your pets happy and healthy but there are many ways of making pet ownership more eco-friendly and waste reducing as well.
- Green your laundry routine. Wait until you have a full load and wash with cold water (90% of the energy used for clothes washing is used to heat the water). This will cut down the use of energy. If using the dryer, always make sure your lint trap is clean to reduce drying time and save energy.
- Bring back the clothes line. Clothes lines seem to be a rare sight these days, which makes no sense! They’re easy and cheap to set up and use if you have the outdoor space. Although drying outside is dependent on the time and weather, why not set one up so you can air dry when you can? Air drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year and there are many additional benefits to line drying. You can also use an indoor drying rack but need to be cautious of humidity levels. In more humid areas an exhaust fan or dehumidifier may be necessary to safely line dry your clothes inside.
- Check and repair any leaks. The first step for conserving water in your home is making sure you don’t have any water leaks. A water leak may or may not be obvious so here are some tips for checking for water leaks.
- Brush your teeth with a shot glass. We have been told time and time again to turn off the faucet when brushing our teeth. Even then, we still consume a lot of water just wetting and our toothbrush and rinsing our mouth. All of these brushing activities can easily be accomplished with just a shot glass worth of water, taking away the need to turn your faucet on while brushing your teeth for anything other than filling the glass. You can even store your toothbrush in a shot glass so you remember. #ShotGlassTeethBrushing
- Keep water off while washing hands. Maybe not everyone is guilty of this but I had a bad habit of turning on the water faucet, then getting soap and lathering my hands up under a running faucet. Considering you are supposed to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, I was wasting a lot of water in the process. Get in the habit of putting soap in your hands first, then turning on the faucet just enough to give you a splash of water and scrub your hands with the sink off. A great way to build the habit is by putting a sign on your mirror until you remember #SoapFirst.
- Put a timer in your shower. To help you shorten your shower time, consider putting a timer in your shower or setting a goal to complete your shower within one or two of your favorite songs. Another way to cut down on water use is to not perform extra activities like face washing or teeth brushing in the shower. In addition, shave with your shower water off then just rinse clean in your shower when done.
- Make your toilet use less water. Replacing a standard toilet with a newer water conservation model can reduce water use between 20-60% depending on the age of toilet. That alone could save more than 4,000 gallons per person per year. If replacing your toilet is not in the cards right now and you have an older toilet model, go old school and put a large plastic water bottle in your toilet tank filled with either a few rocks or water to weigh it down. If you put a half gallon container in the tank it will save a half gallon per flush, averaging around 800 gallons a year.
- Catch water for other uses. It can be easy to catch perfectly good water that ends up down the drain while we wait for water to heat up. Just put a container to catch the water, like a pitcher, under your sink tap or even bucket in the shower while waiting for hot water. Then, use it to water plants or for other household chores. You can even collect rainwater in your yard for watering your garden.
- Cut down water while doing dishes. Running a full load in the dishwasher without extensive pre-rinsing conserves more water than washing dishes by hand. To conserve water when handwashing dishes, use the sink fill method of filling one side of the sink with hot soapy water and the other side with cool rinsing water at the lowest levels you can get away with.
- Wash your car less often. I thought I was being lazy by not washing my car that often but it turns out I was being environmentally friendly 🙂 Cutting down how many times you wash your car per year can save a lot of water. If you want to make sure people know that you are not washing your car because it is environmentally friendly, consider getting this bumper sticker so it is clear! When you do need to wash your car, it is better to take it to an automatic car wash than to wash it at home as they use less water and have safer disposal methods for the runoff.
- Conserve water in your yard. Many things can be done to conserve water outside the home as well. Water your lawn and garden when it is cooler like early morning or evenings to reduce water evaporation and follow these additional 10 easy ways to save water in your yard and garden.
- Green your outdoor chores. If you have the physical capabilities, you can easily knock out your outdoor chores without the use of modern technology (and get some exercise while you are at it). Rake instead of using a leaf blower, sweep your gutters and driveway instead of water washing, shovel instead of using a snow blower, and consider cutting your grass with a push reel mower. If your lawn is too large for a push reel mower, consider switching away from a gas powered lawn mower to an electric mower. A typical gas powered lawn mower being used for an hour will produce as much air pollution as a car driving 200 miles.
- Reduce your energy bill. What’s really cool is that a lot of the things you can do to save the environment can also save you money. Cutting down your home energy costs is one of those things. We already did a quick guide on reducing your energy bill that also discusses the use of smart thermostats (big money savers).
- Unplug appliances. Appliances use power whether they are in use or not if they are plugged in. Consider unplugging appliances from the socket when not in use, especially ones you do not use frequently.
- Use less energy while cooking. There are many energy saving cooking and baking tips as well. Put lids on pots and pans to prevent heat loss and shorten cooking time, match pot size to burner, and don’t preheat oven. Some food products, like pasta, even come with their own energy saving cooking methods.
- Turn lights off more often. Turning the lights off when you leave a room that no one else is in is obvious but still needs to be said again so more people make it a habit. Also as your day winds down, reducing the amount of light you are exposed to by using less bright lighting and more soft lighting, like candles, helps prepare your brain for bed.
- Switch lightbulbs. I am not just talking about switching away from the energy sucking incandescent bulbs which have been being phased out but are not banned. I am also talking about eliminating the use of Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs). Why? Because they have more downfalls than benefits. The primary one being they contain mercury, a toxic metal that is not only horrible for the environment but people as well. The lightbulbs need to be properly recycled and broken lightbulbs are very hazardous. What to opt for instead? LED bulbs have many benefits, including being very energy efficient, long lasting, safer, contain no toxic materials, and have come down in price dramatically. Why not make the switch?
- Maintain your car. Properly maintaining your vehicle is the key to making it run as efficiently as possible. Do so by getting regular tune-ups, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, use the recommended oil, and make sure your tires are properly inflated. Other carbon saving driving tips are to go easy on the gas and breaks as unnecessary acceleration reduces millage up to 33%. Avoid idling, use cruise control, and avoid carrying unnecessary weight.
- Consider carbon reducing commuting. Of course, an even greater way to reduce carbon emissions is to walk, ride a bike, use public transit, carpool and use ride sharing services like UberPool and Lyft Line.
- Spring for eco-friendly home upgrades. When doing a home remodel, don’t just consider the aesthetic. Consider the role it can help you and your family play in living an eco-friendly life. Things like solar panels, energy efficient windows, water saving plumbing fixtures, and extra insulation can all save you money in the long run. Also consider things like low-VOC paints, materials from more natural, recycled or reclaimed sources and consider preowned items. Some states even offer incentives and rebates to homeowners that make sustainable changes during their remodel.
- Eco-friendly travel. People may argue that traveling itself is not very eco-friendly but becoming more eco-friendly should not be about restricting yourself. It should be about enhancing your life with more environmentally friendly choices. GreenGlobalTravel.com created an ultimate guide to sustainable travel. It is worth checking out to learn some tips.
- Pay a Voluntary Carbon Tax. A great way to help offset your carbon footprint is to pay a Voluntary Carbon Tax which is basically donating to an endeavor that aims to reduce greenhouse gases in an amount calculated to make up for your carbon use. Set yourself a reminder to calculate your carbon use and donate to the organization of your choice. Not sure which one to pick StandForTrees.org is a great place to donate and offset your carbon footprint.
- Educate yourself about endangered species. Understand which species are endangered and why, especially in your local area, in case there are things you can do to help. Make sure you don’t accidentally purchase products made from endangered species when overseas by avoiding illegal wildlife souvenirs.
- Help save the bees! Bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. The role they play in pollinating our food supply is of huge importance to humanity. Learn more about the importance of bees and the steps you can take to help save the bee population.
- Don’t purchase products with palm oil. The palm oil industry is a huge environmental threat linked to problems like deforestation, habit degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and abusing rights of the people in the countries where it is produced. There are also many endangered species threatened by unsustainable palm oil production, most notably the orangutan, as well as Sumatran elephants, rhinos, and tigers. I wish I could tell you avoiding palm oil is easy but since it used under many ingredient names and is in so many everyday products, avoiding it takes some research.
- Avoid plastic to save marine life. I know I already talked about the importance of reducing plastic to save marine life, but sea turtles are not the only animals affected. Plastic is also responsible for killing seals, sea lions, seabirds, whales, dolphins and many different species of fish.
- Switch your sunscreen. Chemical sunblocks, like ones that use oxybenzone, aid in killing off our coral reefs, especially in tourist friendly areas. It only takes a little bit to do significant damage. There is no reason to use these harmful sunblocks while swimming in the ocean when there are so many coral and marine safe sunblock options available.
- Stop using pesticides and insecticides in your garden. The harmful impacts of pesticides on wildlife (bees, birds, butterflies, small mammals and fish) are extensive. Wildlife can negatively be impacted by pesticides and insecticides through direct poisoning or indirect poisoning via pesticide drifts, runoff into local water bodies, and by consuming plants or prey that have been exposed to pesticides. There are many ways to garden and control pests without the use of wildlife harming chemicals.
- Create a wildlife friendly garden. You can create gardens that attract and feed bees, butterflies, and beneficial birds. The important thing is to plant native plants that attract them, while also getting rid of any invasive plants that could harm them.
- Visit nature responsibly. Follow leave no trace guidelines when camping and hiking. Make sure to follow all fire rules and regulations in the area and only build a campfire if you know how to safely start one and put one out. When driving in areas where there is lots of wildlife, drive cautiously.
- Volunteer and adopt. To help wildlife even further, consider volunteering at a local wildlife sanctuary or adopting an animal.
- Plant more trees. Trees are so important because they not only provide a canopy and natural habitat for wildlife but also clean the air, provide oxygen, and help combat climate change. The easiest way for you to help plant more trees is to use the free Ecosia Web Browser. It even has an extension for google chrome. Ecosia can be used just like a traditional web browser, the main difference is that 80% of profits generated through web searches are used to plant trees where they are needed the most.
Eat with the Environment in Mind
- Reduce your food waste. Every year Americans throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food and 40% of the United States food supply is wasted. According to the NRDC, “Getting foods to our tables eats up 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50% of U.S. land, and swallows 80% of freshwater consumed in the United States.” Reducing food waste is a BIG DEAL!! Luckily there are many smart and easy tips for reducing food waste.
- Shop local and seasonally. Visiting your local farmers market not only makes sure that your food didn’t use a lot of unnecessary energy to get to you, but it also gives you a chance to meet the people who grow your food and ask them questions. Making sure the fruits and vegetables you eat are in season makes sure also helps make sure your food did not have to travel to far.
- Support organic and biodynamic farming. By supporting organic and biodynamic farming practices you help ensure that harmful chemicals like chemical pesticides and herbicides are not being used and that they are farming using more environmentally responsible practices.
- Just say no to GMOs. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms that have been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering most commonly to become insect and virus resistant or herbicide tolerant. The environmental concern is that GMOs may be toxic to non-target organisms like bees and butterflies while also leeching the soil, making it void of nutrients. With healthy soil being so important to the environment and sustaining mankind, it is important that we encourage farmers to use practices that protect it. By shopping organic, you are already avoiding GMOs, but another way to avoid them when not shopping organic is to look for the label “NON GMO Project Verified.”
- Grow your own food. Nothing will make you respect or appreciate your food more than growing it yourself. If you have the yard space for a full fledged garden that’s great. If not, you could still grow some vegetables on your balcony, grow your own herbs indoors, learn about indoor hydroponic options, or see if you can get involved with a community garden.
- Eat less meat. Including animal products in your diet or not is a personal decision for you to make. If you do make the choice to eat meat, keep in mind that cutting down on the amount of meat (especially red meat) and animal products you consume can help reduce your environmental impact significantly. Globally, the livestock sector is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas and a huge contributing factor to water degradation, biodiversity loss, and deforestation due to the large amounts of land needed to raise livestock.
- Purchase sustainably sourced fish. Damaging fishing techniques are devastating our oceans. Trawling, one of the most detrimental techniques, is when a fisherman drags a net along the bottom of the ocean floor. Trawling disturbs the bottom of the seabed, stirring up sediment and pollutants that have settled, reintroducing them to the food chain and damaging coral in the process. The UN has estimated that 95% of global ocean damage is a direct result of bottom trawling and feels this practice should be banned. If you eat fish, you should check out this sustainable seafood product finder to make sure your fish is sourced more sustainably. Avoiding tuna is also important because the large fishing vessels used to catch tuna kill lots of other marine life in the process, including dolphins and sharks. Sustainable tuna fishing (where they catch just tuna) is not the way to go either because researchers calculated that sustainably caught tuna had a larger climate impact than any other protein source except beef which still reigns king for its negative environmental impact.
- Minimize processed and packaged foods. Buying whole real foods that you can cook yourself with minimal packaging is better for the environment and better for your health. Food processing takes up an increasingly large share of energy used in food production recently jumping up to 16% of the total amount of energy used in the food system. Food packaging alone accounts for almost two thirds of overall packaging waste by volume. This is not surprising when you consider how many times a day people eat, and that more and more individually wrapped products come on the market.
- Support local farm to table and sustainably sourced restaurants. Farm to table is a movement in the restaurant industry that’s based around the concept of sourcing fresh, local, seasonal and organic ingredients for their meals. By supporting local farm to table-based restaurants in your area, you are helping to support a more sustainable food system while enjoying a delicious meal at the same time.
Harness the Power of Conscious Consumerism
- Become a conscious consumer. To fully understand what conscious consumerism is and how to become one read 5 Steps to Becoming a more Conscious Consumer.
- Support the companies making a difference. It is important to support companies that are making more sustainable and eco-friendly products and have values beyond just making a profit. Understanding a company’s mission and impact can be a great way to find companies that align with your values. Finding B Corporations can be a great way to locate businesses that are certified to meet standards of social and environment performance, accountability, and transparency.
- Analyze large purchases. Whether you are in the market for a new car, appliance, or electronic, make sure it has the features you want but also research and consider its environmental impact. Cars have come a long way and opting for a hybrid or fully electric car will do wonders for reducing your carbon footprint. When buying appliances or even electronics, look for the energy star rating to make sure they are an energy efficient choice.
- Purchase products made from recycled materials. Purchasing paper products made from post-consumer recycled content can be a great way to reuse natural resources but so many other products are made from recycled content as well. Here are some great options.
- Understand the impact of fashion. Fashion, fast fashion in particular, which focuses on speed and low cost in manufacturing, is no friend to the environment. In fact, it is considered to be the second largest polluter in the world after the oil industry. The fast fashion industry is a huge contributor to water pollution, toxic chemical use and textile waste. To reduce your fashion footprint, here are some more ethical and sustainable clothing brands to keep an eye out for and some tips for creating a sustainable and ethical wardrobe on a budget.
- Prioritize organic cotton. Conventionally grown cotton is considered to be the world’s dirtiest and most pesticide sprayed crop. It is also one of the top four GMO crops produced in the world. The conventional production of cotton is responsible for huge amounts of toxic runoff into rivers, lakes, wetlands, and aquifers causing huge health risks to humans and wildlife. Prioritize purchasing organic cotton when buying cotton clothes, towels, linens, and personal care products.
- Buy used more often. So many things like books, electronics, appliances, furniture, and of course clothes can be purchased previously owned. Not only is purchasing used items so much more sustainable for the environment, but it’s also less expensive and you can usually get very high quality items at a fraction of the cost. I am proud to say nowadays most of my wardrobe is from consignment or thrift stores and my style has never been better now that my closet is full of high quality, fashionable, and even designer pieces that I never would have spent the money on purchasing brand new. There are many great online resale sights to purchase previously used items like clothes or other goods. The great thing is you can sell your no longer needed items through these same sources as well.
- Care about quality and sustainability. Buying higher quality items that last longer will ultimately save you money, not to mention will have a lower environmental impact compared to lower quality items. In addition, looking for products made from more sustainable materials with better lifecycles are great things to look for.
- Pay attention to packaging. When purchasing a product, consider what it is packaged in. Products today come with so much unnecessary packaging. When it comes to packaging, the products packaged with the least amount of plastic are always your best options. Bonus points to companies when their packaging is fully recyclable and/or made out of recycled packaging. Another great way to reduce packaging waste is to buy in bulk whenever possible.
- Speak out to companies. One of the primary things you can do to make a difference with your purchases is to speak out to the companies that sell you these products or services. A helpful and constructive email to a customer service or even better a company owner or CEO that offers suggestions on ways they can improve their product or produce less waste can be very beneficial to instituting changes.
Inspire and Influence Change
- Educate yourself on issues that impact the environment. By taking the time to read this post and any of the corresponding links, you have already taken a huge step in understanding a lot of environmental issues and what you can do. Here are some additional ways to stay informed.
- Read books. There are so many great books where you can learn more about the issues and solutions to many of the problems our planet faces. Although I will plan on doing a full post on this at a later point, these are great books to start with: Garbology, Saving Wild, Zero Waste Home, This Changes Everything and The Omnivores Dilemma. If you are not someone who has a lot of time to read, most books are also available on Audible so you can listen to them while doing something else.
- Watch documentaries. Watching documentaries, in my opinion, is one of the most impactful ways for people to understand both environmental and other issues. One of my favorite documentaries on the plastic pollution problem is Bag It. It is both informative and highly entertaining. There are so many other great documentaries to choose from (will do a future post) some great ones currently available on Netflix are Chasing Ice, A Plastic Ocean, Wasted and Cowspiracy. Watching documentaries with friends and family or even throwing a screening party can be a great way to get the word out.
- Follow blogs and podcasts. Blogs and podcasts can also be a great way to stay aware of what is going on and find helpful solutions. Of course, this blog, TheRevolutionsBlog.com, is a great place to start. Some other great blogs are Trash is for Tossers and Wellness Mama but there are so many great eco conscious blogs to choose from. Here is a list of recommended sustainable living podcasts.
- Get involved. Now that you have further educated yourself on the problems, it can be a great time to get involved and do something. A great way to do that is to sign environmentally friendly petitions that support causes you are passionate about some great places to find those are Change.org and MoveOn.org. You can also contact your house representative or senator and let them know what issues are important to you.
- Support earth saving organizations. Whether it be through donations or volunteering, a great way to help is to support the organizations that help save the planet. Some popular ones are The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Green Peace and the NRDC. For a more extensive list of environmental organizations that are helping the environment in different areas visit this link.
- Start your own group. To do more on a local level, consider starting or joining a meetup group or other group in your area that is focused on impacting positive environmental in your community.
- Spread the message on social media. Nothing can be more impactful for change than getting beneficial information in front of as many people as possible. Social media is the best way to do that. Use your social media feed as an opportunity to post, share, or tweet information on environmental causes and helpful solutions you are passionate about.
- Create your own content. In this day and age, it is so easy to start your own blog or even YouTube channel. If you have an important message you want to share, you can create your own content and help inspire others.
- Share YouTube videos. Sharing YouTube videos can be an enjoyable and powerful way to spread important and impactful messages. Some of my favorites are Man vs Earth,Will This Be Humanity’s Fate? and Dear Future Generations: Sorry all created by Prince Ea (amazing YouTuber) and this one where a young 9 year old Severn Cullis-Suzuki speaks out at Rio Summit. Please consider watching and sharing these videos yourself. There are many eco-friendly YouTube channels you can subscribe to as well.
- Have a monthly earth hour. I know doing all these things may seem overwhelming but even dedicating an hour a month can make a big impact. Instead of just celebrating Earth Hour annually, schedule a monthly earth hour for yourself. Use that time to educate yourself on environmental issues, write companies, reach out to congress, sign petitions, post on social media, or do research on more eco-friendly product choices.
- Spread the message the right way. The best way to influence others is to be a living example of the things you find important and by getting the information that originally inspired you in front of other people in hopes it will inspire them as well. I know it can be hard when passionate about a cause not to lecture people about it (I have been guilty of this myself at times). However it is usually more harmful then helpful. People don’t do things because you tell them to, they do things because they are inspired to! Yes it is important to get information and solutions in front of people but let them take the reigns. Make sure you compliment people for any positive step they take instead of coming down on them for the ways they aren’t perfect. Don’t expect or try to be perfect yourself either the key to all of this is just making progress in the right direction but not expecting perfection.
- Share this post. A big way you can make a positive impact right now is to help get this post into as many hands as possible. You can do that by sharing on social media, emailing the link to friends and family, or if you have your own platform such as a blog, YouTube channel, or website, consider doing your own spin off on this topic and link this post. My main wish for this post is that you fell inspired to share it!
“You really can change the world if you care enough.” – Marian Wright Edelman
I know this post is a lot of information it is not about doing everything at once, it is about taking more sustainable steps in the right direction. It is not about being prefect it is about more people doing better when it comes to making changes that will have a large impact on humanities future. Bookmark this post for future reference and make sure you download the Free Healthy Earth Habits Guide and Tracker. This will help you prioritize and track the changes you do decide to make as well as provide additional helpful tools for some of the tips.
-Elizabeth Hemmings, author of Easy Green Cleaning
Have more earth saving ideas? Share them below.