Earth Day is obviously a great day to focus on the planet and how we do our part to take care of it, but obviously, it's not the only day we should do so. There's plenty we can do day to day that can create positive impact, and not only will these things directly help the environment, but it'll also shape our children's relationship with the earth as well. In many cases, we have to lead by example, and this is definitely one of them with some green habits you should do every day, not just Earth Day. Honestly, it matters.
With thinking about something as big as the earth, we sometimes think what we personally do is too small to actually matter. But, that's not the case. Each individual creates impact on the environment, and making effort to change your carbon footprint is actually a big deal. Every little thing can make positive change, and there are many ways we can affect how much energy and water we consume and how much garbage we create. It can seem overwhelming to adjust your lifestyle all at once if you aren't doing any of these things yet, but making one or two small changes at a time can help to make a difference.
1. Use Reusable Water Bottles
Using a reusable bottle instead of buying cases of disposable plastic water bottles is both better for the environment and for your body. Worldwide, people buy about one million disposable plastic bottles each minute, and about 91 percent of those are not recycled, according to Forbes. They largely end up as litter in our parks and oceans, or in landfills.
These days, when considering what type of reusable bottle to buy, the options are endless. You can get durable, BPA-free plastic bottles, glass bottles with protective silicone sleeves, or stainless steel bottles, with most options well below $20.
2. Bring Your Own Drinking Straw
500 million single-use straws are used each day in the U.S., according to National Geographic, and most of those end up in the ocean. You can guess how that might be harmful for marine life, but if you need some further explanation, Google has a plethora of heartbreaking videos of animals whose lives and health were greatly impacted by our incessant straw usage.
It's easy to stop using disposable straws at home — it gets trickier when wanting to stop when you're out and about. In restaurants and bars, ask your waiter or bartender to hold the straw. And for smoothies and iced coffee, carry a reusable one in a baggie in your purse, diaper bag, or car. You can give it a quick rinse in the restroom and wash when you get home. Kleen Kanteen makes a cute set of reusable steel straws with comfy silicone tips.
3. Start Carrying Reusable Grocery Bags
Single-use grocery bags are incredibly hazardous to the environment, according to National Geographic. 1 trillion bags are used each year in the world, and at least 10 percent of those end up in the ocean. It's easy to bring your own bags to the store (if you're liable to forget, like me, keep a stash in the car), and now, many major retailers offer cash back incentives if you use your own bags.
I like these from flip and tumble — they fold up really small and stash easily in your handbag, car, or stroller.
4. Eat Less Meat
According to TIME, there may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the environment than the raising of livestock. In fact, livestock use one-third of all of the world's fresh water and rainforests are constantly being deforested to farm livestock feed.
Reducing your meat consumption can make a big difference when it comes to environmental impact. If cutting out meat altogether is not feasible for you and your family, try partaking in the Meatless Monday phenomenon. It's easier than you think, and once you make the change, both your body and the earth will notice the difference.
5. Carpool Or Use Public Transportation
OK, this is an easy one. If you live in a larger metropolitan area or around a few friends with whom you work, this is a great way to make big-time environmental impact.
If you don't live in a metro area with accessible public transportation, make sure your car is as energy efficient as possible — try not to ride the brakes or drive too fast, make sure your tire pressure is on point, and that your engine is running efficiently.
6. Stop Printing
Going paperless purely even just to reduce the amount of mail sorting and paper clutter in your home is truly life-changing. Call your bank, mortgage company, car payment company, utility and cable/internet providers and request to go paperless. Many companies even have an option on their websites in your online accounts where you can easily switch to paperless statements and billing. Easy, and satisfying, as pie.
7. Plant Flowers
It's no secret that honeybee populations are dwindling, but you may not realize how big of an impact that can have on the environment. Bees pollinate many of the plants responsible for the earth's lush greenness, so their populations decreasing will definitely impact our environment, as noted by the National Resources Defense Council. In addition, bees are responsible for pollinating the majority of our food crop, so no bees means no food.
You can try to encourage your local bee population buy planting flowers rich in pollen. Not only will your yard or windowsill get a fresh look, but you'll be impacting nature in a very direct way.
8. Buy Local
It's not always feasible in all communities, but if you can, try to buy local food and goods when possible. This can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint by cutting down on energy and resources used to transport food and other items. The benefits are immense, but the biggest impact on you will be the quality of the food you're buying. Smaller, local farms tend not to use harsh pesticides, nor do they have to prep their foods for long journeys, and what you're left with is incredibly fresh and flavorful food that's also good for the environment. Win, win.
Small lifestyle changes can create big impact, so use Earth Day as an excuse to make a difference.
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