You don't have to solve the issue of the Pacific Ocean Gyre Garbage Patch, Global Warming/Climate Change, or Ocean Bleaching to save the environment. There are tons of simple, easy, no-hassle things you can do that help keep contaminants out of the water supply, and even lower the amount of money you spend on everyday things. Most of these you know, but here's a list that may include a few surprises.
- Recycle. Glass, plastic, tinfoil, paper products....but also batteries (lithium is highly toxic!) and computers/electronics.
- Better yet, just reduce your consumption! Do you really NEED a new computer every 3 years? Apple and others would like you to think so. But the truth is, computer waste (even 'recycled') gets shipped to Asia, where contaminants leak into the soil, water table, and air, poisoning people as well as their resources. This is primarily because there is much in the construction of computers that cannot be recycled into other things in an economically advantageous way. So instead of chuffing your waste onto a neighboring country, try saving a few bucks and making your computer last. Replace broken parts, and make upgrades, without purchasing an entirely new system.
- Limit your showers to 15 minutes per day. Set a timer. I'll bet you can do everything you need in the shower within 15 minutes. Except maybe shaving your legs (which I do in the bath, personally).
- Turn lights off when you leave the room. This saves electricity AND money. Win win!
- Also, unplug things that you aren't using. Even if the appliance is off, it still draws voltage while plugged in. That's a waste and a cost, literally for nothing.
- Recycle old clothing. Even people with no sewing skill or machine can turn a simple shirt into a mod dress, or make a skirt out of a small chunk of material. By turning existing clothing pieces into new outfits, you're saving money and waste.
- Buy the item with less packaging. Or, if the thing you're aiming for comes with enough cardboard to build a hotel with, use is for packaging gifts (you can use paper grocery store bags, doodled on, for this as well), insulation (especially in a garage), cat scratch post, etc.
- Speaking of paper bags, the can be used around a roast to keep in moisture, under bacon as it drains to absorb the fat, etc. If you can't bring your own cloth tote to the store for your groceries, please choose the paper bag option an re-use it later in a creative way.
- If your climate is warm enough, try drying your clothes on a line instead of in the dryer. Again, this saves energy and money.
- Try reducing your consumption of goods. Ultimately, the way to save money, lower caloric intake, reduce waste, and more is through reducing how much we consume. Do you buy a lot of books? Try renting them from the library instead. Do you prefer a different meal for dinner each night? Recycle leftovers into a new dish instead of throwing them away. You get the idea.
- Carpool, or take the bus, or walk, or ride your bike to where you need to go. For most people, you can walk a mile in 25 minutes or less. Plus, you're getting vitamin D with the sun, and some nice heart-healthy cardio exercise. You're not spending money on gas. And you're reducing carbon emissions, heavy metal pollution from tire degradation, engine discharge, noise pollution, etc.
- Use a reusable travel mug, lunchbox, and water bottle (preferably one that is BPA free).
- Don't idle your car. Stoplights is one thing, but idling while waiting for a drawbridge, in stopped traffic during rush hour, or in the mornings before you leave does three things: it adds to airborne emissions, it adds to noise pollution, and it wastes gas. With the exception of very few climes, you don't need to idle your car for ten minutes before putting it into drive- cars are built more efficient than they once were. Please please please- if the wait is more than 5 minutes, just turn your engine off. It will take you a fraction of a moment to turn it back on again once traffic is moving, and if the driver behind you can't wait an extra two seconds to start moving again, he/she is a moron (and congratulations, you're a better driver AND environmentally sound!)
- Know where your fish came from. Whether you're buying at a restaurant, or the grocery store, always ask "is it wild, or farmed? Atlantic, or Pacific?" This makes a huge impact on the environment, and the flavor. Most times, the methods used to farm fish are destructive to the streams and rivers they are housed in- wild caught is a better choice for things like salmon. It's also a health issue- scallops and shrimp from certain areas of Asia are LOADED with chemicals and not worth any price to ingest them. For a great guide on what the best ecological seafood options are, go here: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx
Labels: sustainable living