Easy Ways to Be More Environmentally Friendly

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Easy Ways to Be More Environmentally Friendly

By Rebecca Fending

Recent politics and scientific reports have brought to light the importance of environmental awareness. Whether it’s as simple as using less plastic or being an activist, you can do your part in helping save our beautiful planetary home. An added bonus to these tips is that many of them will actually save your wallet, too! Here’s how you can help yourself and the environment:

Get More From Your Plastics

We’ve all heard the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, but what does it really mean? Typically, this slogan is used in regard to our everyday plastic usage:

  • Reduce: Try to cut back on your use of single-use plastic, if not plastic altogether. I’ve found that using glass is the best alternative; no plastic-y taste, glass lasts longer, and it’s easier to clean! If you’re not ready for the switch, try to use reusable plastic (or plastic that’s been recycled and repurposed) as much as you can.
  • Reuse: Reusing plastic containers that are traditionally viewed as “single-use plastic” is a great way to both reduce your carbon footprint. Whether it’s using plastic grocery bags as miniature trash bags or refilling your Ice Mountain water bottle, getting even just one more use out of your plastic can help reduce plastic waste. This strategy also helps in cushioning your wallet; investing in a tap water filtration device and reusable glasses or portable drink containers means buying less water bottles over time!
  • Recycle: Although self-explanatory, recycling how you can help diminish plastic pollution. Plastic waste has a tendency to end up in bodies of water due to people’s willingness to litter their plastic bottles, bags, and etc. The danger of this lies in the chemicals used to make and form plastic. These chemicals are absorbed by the marine lives that swim with it, many of which we consume (e.g. salmon, trout, shrimp and etc.) Conclusion: be sure your plastic (and general waste) is disposed of properly.
Graphic created by user Phil Gibbs on Flickr

Composting for the Environment and Your Garden

You may have heard about composting before, but what is it really? Essentially, composting at home means that you gather your degradable trash in a designated container and use it later for a variety of purposes. The most common use for composting is for those of us with a green thumb. Compost is known to be a great natural and organic fertilizer for gardens. Direct composting (placing composting goods directly onto garden soil) is a simplistic but effective way to kill two birds with one stone: do your part in helping the environment and help your garden flourish.

Interested in starting your own compost? There’s a great introductory guide by Better Homes and Gardens that makes starting your composting journey a breeze. Be sure to double-check what you can compost before starting.

An example of a composting stash by user Collin Anderson on Flickr

Give Back to Your Environment

Giving back to the environment doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to plant a forest in your backyard or sell your car for scrap metal. Though you can do these things you feel compelled, giving back can simply mean keeping the environment as a priority and making mindful choices. For example, you can start using a sunblock that’s reef friendly. Many sunblocks use chemicals such as oxybenzone and parabens that poison marine life when worn and washed into ocean water. These chemicals contribute to coral bleaching and reproductive abnormalities in fish.

A visual representation of the effects of coral bleaching off the coast of Hawaii. Photo credit: hilo.hawaii.edu

Another great example of a small change you can make to benefit the environment is implementing Meatless Mondays at home. By going meat-free for your meals in one day, you aid in reducing the carbon emissions from meat and dairy farmers. Skipping meat not only aids the environment, but it also keeps you and your wallet healthy. From improving heart health to minimizing your grocery bill, Meatless Mondays are a great change to make.

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