It can be difficult to ignore the state of the environment these days. Each news cycle brings about staggering information on the direction the planet is headed (1). While action is being taken across the globe to counteract the damage that has been done, much more needs to happen to create a lasting difference (2, 3). The best way to show Mother Earth a little bit of TLC is by taking action yourself. Saving the world might seem like an insurmountable task, but real change can come about when individuals decide to step up and take a swing.
You don’t necessarily need to rush off to a snowy tundra to save the polar bears. Instead, you can find ways to create lasting change right in your own community. Start a ripple effect by exploring these ideas and see how you can get started with improving the environment.
1. Ride Your Bike
Instead of driving your car everywhere, ride your bike! This might sound simple but it can lead to big results. In recent years, several studies have been conducted on how using bicycles instead of motor vehicles can reduce harmful vehicle emissions and lower the overall pollution in an area. For instance, a 2010 study on the impact of bikes on local air quality in Wisconsin estimated a 57,405-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions if 20 percent of short car trips were replaced by bicycle trips in Milwaukee and Madison (4).
For some of us, foregoing the car for a bike can be a bit more of a challenge. If you live in an area where getting around requires an automobile, then you might have limited options. When a bicycle isn’t the most sensible mode of travel, take public transportation. These vehicles are already running, and taking advantage of them can still assist with reducing carbon dioxide emissions, especially in regions where “green” initiatives are enforced with public vehicles (5).
2. Reduce Food Waste
Wasting food is, not surprisingly, another big issue when it comes to environmental sustainability. While you are probably not trying to actively throw away perfectly decent food, you might also not know what to do with leftovers when they are sitting in your fridge. The easiest way to keep your conscience clear is by learning how to use your leftovers to make healthy new meals.
Another great way to cut back on how much food your household is wasting is by being a more mindful shopper. Many people go to the grocery store without any kind of real plan. This leads to items being purchased that are never actually used and get thrown away months down the line when they are discovered in the back of dark pantries and cabinets. A simple way to avoid this is by shopping for specific items and ingredients online. This step requires you to be a bit more focused and take a more active part in selecting what will fill your cupboards.
Donating food to local charities and food kitchens can be another great idea when you want to make a positive change in your community.
3. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaners
Some people love cleaning their homes. Whether you are the type who relishes when spring cleaning comes around or you only break out the supplies once every few months, it can be wise to think about how you are going about this task. Many household cleaning products are packed with dangerous chemicals. Though these chemicals are not always outright harmful to you and your family members, disposing of these bottles can lead to dangerous substances leaking into the ground, water supplies, and more (6).
Buying eco-friendly cleaning products can be a great idea when you want to do your part to keep toxins out of the air and sea. Some people also suggest making your own cleaning supplies! There are some great ideas out there to help you create natural cleaners and still allow your home to sparkle the way you’d like it to.
Taking action in small ways might not seem like much, but it is often all we can do to make real change happen.