Advocacy Health

4 Green Resolutions to Make Your Everyday Life More Environmentally Friendly

It’s been a long time coming, but environmental issues are finally at the forefront of our collective mainstream consciousness. From Greta Thunberg raging at the United Nations Climate Change Conference to the devastating bushfires still plaguing the Australian outback today, there has been no shortage of wake-up calls. The planet is dying and we must act now to save it. Individually, we can all take steps to reduce our carbon footprint and minimize the waste we generate. Here are a few ways to start:

Eliminate single-use plastics.

Disposable plastic products are still the planet’s number-one adversary. According to National Geographic, we have created 8.3 billion metric tons of it in the six decades since its invention, and we are currently on track to generate 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050 if current consumption practices continue. Plastic is a non-biodegradable material, and we are making more of it than we can effectively manage. What’s worse is the fact that the manufacturing process to create plastics involves the use of fossil fuels, thus contributing to climate change. 

Our survival as a species could very well depend on the choices that we make today. Reducing our dependence on plastic in our daily lives is a great start. Eschewing single-use plastic cutlery, holding your drinks in a reusable stainless steel water bottle that you can take with you wherever you go, and bringing reusable containers and bags when you go grocery shopping are a few simple ways to reduce plastic use and prevent littering. We can also let companies know where we stand by throwing our support behind establishments and brands that commit to end environmentally destructive practices in all aspects of their businesses.

Eat less meat. 

More and more people are switching to a plant-heavy or plant-based diet, enough to make The Economist take notice and declare 2019 to be the “year of the Vegan”. Aside from reasons related to health and ethics, leaning into the vegan or vegetarian movement can be environmentally beneficial as well. Livestock farming takes a toll on the planet in many ways: it requires swathes of land to be cleared and deforested for feed, contributes 18% to global greenhouse gas emissions, and causes soil and water degradation, among others.  

Converting to a meatless diet is likely not something that just happens overnight, but even just minimizing your meat consumption can make a difference. Start with one vegetarian meal a day or by only consuming red meat once or twice a week. While you’re at it, you can also start patronizing local farms and integrating seasonal produce into your diet, which will also minimize your carbon footprint. 

Make smarter fashion choices.

The fast fashion industry—think of brands like Uniqlo, H&M, Forever 21 and Zara—brings stylish clothes to the masses by offering high-fashion designs fresh off the runways of Paris and New York at very affordable prices, making them hard to resist. However, the democratization of fashion has an environmental impact as well. Fast fashion produces greenhouse gases at figures that put the transport industry to shame while contributing to the global waste management problem. Clothes by fast fashion brands are often made with synthetic fabrics derived from fossil fuels that simply don’t decay. Like single-use plastics, most of these items only end up polluting the planet. 

The obvious solution is to stop shopping—a move that will save money and keep your closet manageable. But you don’t have to give fast fashion up to feel less guilt. Resisting the urge to toss your old clothes out and wearing them at least nine months longer can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 30%. Besides, you never know when they might come back into fashion. We all thought mom jeans would die in the ‘80s, but people are still wearing them in 2020, aren’t they?

Conserve water and electricity

There are many ways to save the planet, but the best ones require little to no action from you at all. Take energy conservation: by switching to energy-efficient lights and appliances, your home uses less fuel for power and you pay less on your electric bills. Remembering to turn appliances off or unplugging them when not in use is an additional action that will reduce your power consumption even further.

Conserving water is yet another way to reduce your lifestyle’s environmental impact. Simply taking shorter showers and turning faucets off when you aren’t using them can help you preserve this precious natural resource. When washing your clothes, try to use only as much water as you need or opt to use the “Eco Wash” mode that many modern machines have built-in. 

Becoming more conscious of our impact on the environment is the first step to living an eco-friendlier lifestyle. Even small changes can be substantive if we all do them together.

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