Every single thing we do has an impact on the planet—good or bad. When you flush the toilet, jot down a note, throw a load of laundry into the dryer, drive to work, or order a steak, you’re directly affecting plants, animals, and ecosystems all over the globe.
Luckily, as awareness spreads, it becomes easier to make choices to go green, to use organic, to recycle, to reduce our carbon footprint, and hopefully to save the planet.
These 10 tips to help save our planet are so easy to implement, anyone can do them. These small steps will make a big, lasting impact on our planet.
Many countries around the world have strict recycling policies, and unfortunately, the US hasn’t quite caught on yet.
In Sweden, the city’s garbage is burned and used to power a quarter of a million homes. In Italy, you get a very large fine if you don’t separate waste from recycling. Canada is leaps and bounds ahead of the US with all sorts of different recycling systems. They even reuse old car tires in playgrounds and in asphalt for road resurfacing.
When we throw away non-biodegradable materials, they end up in landfills and in oceans, and they build up and take over. Over 300 million tons of plastic are consumed each year. The threat to our marine animals is real.
It’s time to get serious about recycling. Reuse, reduce, recycle.
Buy less paper, plastic, and tin; reuse and repurpose things as much as possible; and come time to get it out of the house, recycle it instead of throwing it away.
RELATED: Here’s How to Become a Recycling Pro
2. Stop Using Plastic Bags
For the love of all that is reusable—stop using disposable plastic bags to package your fruits, vegetables, and groceries.
Studies show that as many as 50 percent of sea turtles are ingesting plastic and are dying as a result. (1)
Seals, sea lions, seabirds, fish, whales, and dolphins are all ingesting our non-biodegradable waste and are dying from it.
Each person has the power to directly impact the amount of plastic produced by switching to reusable bags and bottles. We know that this is doable because many states in the US and most European countries already have bans in place.
3. Buy Locally Grown, Organic Produce
By now it’s well-established how much harm is caused by pesticides to our health, our animals, our ecosystems, and our entire planet. Up to 98 percent of pesticides sprayed end up everywhere other than on the intended source. We’re polluting our air, water, and food with poison every single day.
In addition, when we purchase imported produce, we’re supporting the exorbitant amount of energy and transport expended in order to bring the produce to its destination.
Support organic farms in your area by attending weekly farmer’s markets to purchase locally grown produce. The positive impact is twofold: you’re helping to cut down on pollution and on energy used for transportation.
4. Implement Meatless Mondays
One meatless day a week is a good start, but let’s get real—the more the merrier.
Animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, leaving a huge carbon footprint in its wake. Around 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to raising, slaughtering, and transporting animals and animal products. (2)
The rate at which we currently consume meat is not sustainable. There is simply not enough energy, water, and animal food to keep this up much longer. Not to mention the highly detrimental effects that greenhouse gases have on our environment.
Reduce the number of animal products you consume, and instead focus on organic plant foods. There is plenty of protein to be had from plants, so dedicate most of your week to a plant-based diet.
5. Switch to LED Bulbs
If you’ve been using any type of light bulb other than LED bulbs, it’s time to make the switch. LED bulbs use less energy, and they’re much more environmentally friendly than incandescent or compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). (3)
LED bulbs use less energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions are also lower for LED bulbs than other types of light bulbs.
In addition, LED bulbs generate less heat, cutting down on energy and costs for cooling.
Unfortunately, LED bulbs have more of a negative impact than CFLs when it comes to disposal of the bulbs, but that is something that experts are working to change.
6. Cut Down on Packaging by Buying in Bulk
Save all your glass pickle jars and stock up on mason jars to use as storage for your grains and legumes.
Instead of buying small disposable plastic, paper or tin packages of your dried goods, buy in bulk to cut down on food packaging and store them in glass jars in your pantry.
Living green means cutting down on waste wherever possible, so when you’re shopping in the supermarket, think about how the packaging of a product will affect the environment.
7. Start a Compost
Did you know that with time, our fruits and vegetables are actually becoming less and less nutritious?
The reason for this is due to farms using chemical fertilizers that contain little nutrients to nourish our plants and trees. Decomposing organic materials give off some very important nutrients that we need, including a nutrient called fulvic acid, without which we would be unable to absorb any nutrients we consume.
The more natural components are given to the earth, the more fertile it becomes. Don’t waste those vegetable shavings and banana peels on the trash bin. Instead, give back to the earth by returning the valuable nutrients that it so kindly gave to us.
It’s actually pretty easy to compost whether you have a backyard or not, so use this guide from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to get started.
8. Rethink the Way You Travel
Each time you start up your car and take it to work or school, you’re contributing to the pollution threatening our planet.
It’s time to cut down on CO2 emissions, and there are many ways to go about it. If you live close enough to work, consider biking instead. You’ll get your workout in and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time—win-win!
If you aren’t close enough to bike, carpool instead with one or two people who live in your area. If everyone carpooled, traffic would also be reduced significantly. Public transportation is another excellent alternative when possible.
9. Make DIY Household Cleaning Products
Store-bought household cleaning products are both hazardous to your health and to the environment. Make your own homemade soap, disinfectant, toilet bowl cleaner, and all-purpose household cleaning sprays using natural, organic products like lemon juice, vinegar, and essential oils.
Instead of inhaling toxins and sending them out into the world, you can successfully clean and disinfect your home with easy-to-make DIY household cleaning products.
10. Set Reminders for Yourself
Did you shut off the light when you left the bathroom? Did you turn off the air conditioning before you left the house?
You can significantly cut down on the energy you use simply by being aware. Remember to unplug electronics and to turn off lights, fans, air conditioning, and heating when you don’t need them.
Start by setting a reminder on your phone a few minutes before you leave the house for work. Once you’ve done it enough times, it becomes a habit, and you’ll barely notice or remember flipping that switch as you exit the room.
We can accomplish way more when we work together. If every single person on the planet did their part in cutting down on the materials and energy they used on a daily basis, we may really and truly succeed in our mission to save the planet.