We all have to start somewhere, and starting is super important. You can’t succeed at what you never attempt in the first place, right? So if your goal is to live a greener life but you don’t know how…I’ll share something with you that helped me a lot.
I was pretty overwhelmed with the realization that I too, as much as I truly did care about the plight of my planet, was guilty of harming it. Not with that goal, of course, but because I existed, I did harm, and because I existed without mindfulness, I did considerable harm.
After the great shock-and resulting depression, I admit, that came with realizing just how much someone who actually did care could still be doing to harm her planet-I set immediately to the task of righting my wrongs. You can’t undo a life of oblivious living over night, but there are things you can do right now that will immediately lessen your harmful effect upon the planet.
Here are a few:
This may seem obvious-we hear it enough-but many people don’t seem to realize just how much our obsession with our cars is choking our world.
Drive less, period. Plan your trips in advance. Do as much as you can in one trip, so you won’t have to make other trips. Instead of going shopping many times per week for a few things at a time, plan out your meals, make a list, and go once per week. Try to go shopping after any other appointments you might have. Schedule appointments together if possible; could you make those appointments after work or before work instead of making separate trips? How about making appointments for after work, then go shopping after your appointment! You might be a bit tired, but the planet will thank you.
Can you carpool to work? Can you walk, bike, or take public transport? Even better. Or check into working from home (aka “telecommute”).
Driving less is a great way to take down our CO2 numbers. If enough people were mindful of this, the effect would be HUGE.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions From A Typical Passenger Vehicle
Another thing: let your legislators know that public transportation is important to you, as is air quality and climate change. Let them know often, loudly, and without ambivalence.
Use less plastic! Plastic is swiftly filling up our landfills and ending up in our oceans, posing myriad risks to us and our fellow living beings. See the following article for a shock!
A whopping 91% of plastic isn’t recycled
Buy a stainless steel water bottle and fill it from the tap-you can filter your tap water with a cheap screw-on filter you can find even at grocery stores. You can install a whole house filter if you wish. There are even pitchers and bottles that themselves filter your water. Stop buying single use plastic water bottles. These are among the most destructive items we humans have become addicted to. If you MUST buy bottled water, get a water cooler from one of the home delivery services which will pick up and recycle the bottles for you, or buy large refillable jugs and go to refill stations to get refills. These can be found at most grocery and discount stores and will save you money after just a few weeks’ time. And less plastic in the landfills.
Also, say NO to plastic straws and utensils. The straws can end up in the ocean where they lodge in the nasal passages of sealife and cause agony and death.
Straws: Why They Seriously Suck
Just use regular utensils and don’t be lazy-wash them. Keep the plastic out of the landfills.
Don’t buy produce that is wrapped in plastic, and don’t use plastic bags to bring your items home in. Buy bulk items that are not wrapped in plastic and use washable mesh produce bags, like those made by purifyou, when shopping.
Don’t buy items in plastic containers if you can help it-and if you can’t avoid it, make sure that container gets reused or recycled. But keep in mind: due to the current price of crude oil, from which plastics are made, new plastic is cheaper than recycled plastic, and even the bottles we take to the recycler, thinking we are doing the right thing, often end up in the landfills anyway. Sad but true. Make your own juice in the food processor (use the skin for added fiber). Make your own sauces, broths and stocks. They’ll taste better, be better for you, and pollute less. A LOT less!
Paper, while in itself biodegradable, is a BIG problem. Paper towels and napkins alone account for a STAGGERING number of trees cut down, and paper for other uses, from toilet tissue and facial tissue to books and office supplies, requires an absolutely mindboggling number of trees to be milled every single year. The fact that global forest coverage is annually decreasing indicates we are using more than we can replace, and are headed for trouble without some kind of change of habits. Trees don’t grow anywhere near as fast as the lifespan of a paper towel. Something’s got to give. I vote for the paper towel.
Sure, it’s less convenient to use cloth napkins, but the planet needs our help. While we can’t do without toilet paper and facial tissue, we can make a point not to be wasteful in our usage. We can go digital for our books and subscriptions. We can recycle what paper we do have to use-we can make it into crafts or we can take it to the recycler. Using less, though, is the first, best line of defense where paper is concerned. Just like plastic.
I know, many of you won’t like this next one, but hear me out:
Eat less, or no meat, and less or no dairy and eggs. Going meatless even one time per week can help. Going vegetarian is better. But to slash, and I mean SLASH, your negative impact on the planet, going vegan is one of the best things you can do. Even if the suffering of farm animals doesn’t move you, you’re here to save the planet, right? Production of meat, dairy and eggs is one of the top ways we humans degrade our environment. From the tremendous water consumption required to produce food for cows, pigs, chickens and other farm animals, to the CO2 emitted in the actual processing of meat, milk, and eggs by the facilities that slaughter and pack and transport the products, the animal farming aspect of human life is a huge detriment to our planet. The amount of calories agriculture can produce for a given amount of pollution is considerably different when you consider plant-based foods and meat and dairy. Higher quality nutrition-and more of it-can be derived from plants for less pollution than meat or dairy. EVEN PROTEIN. Nothing beats the mighty soybean, folks. Nothing.
Save the world: change how you eat!
Ok, so going vegan might seem like a daunting task-but it’s not as bad as you might think. It’s also not necessarily that expensive. If you’re someone who likes a lot of prepackaged food and is reluctant to cook, buying vegan products can be more expensive. But as in everything, your choices here count too. If you are in this with me so far, and trying to cut down on packaging already…you’re halfway there!
A few years ago I found out that the cause of my health issues was GLUTEN, and cut gluten containing foods out of my diet. That was a big deal. Going vegan was actually a lot easier. No kidding.
Here are some great resources for you if you’d like to explore going vegan. I highly recommend it. My health is vastly improved. So is my energy. I’ve dropped a few pounds that were definitely EXTRA. I’ve learned to cook! And I’m not missing anything. AND I’m no longer contributing to one of the major sources of negative climate change impacts. It feels GREAT.
Just take a look. No pressure.
Contact me if I can help you in any way with the vegan thing. I’d be happy to give an assist.
One Green Planet has it all: helpful hints, news, recipes, resources, activism actions you can take, and even some really cute animal videos! Check them out!
One Green Planet
Vegan Outreach provides help and support to new and seasoned vegans.
Oh, check this out before you go:
See how your environmental impact can be lessened by going vegan with this handy calculator. Try it out. WOW.
Here’s mine! I’ve been vegan for one year, nine months.
If we all went vegan, think of what those numbers would show!
It’s a start!
~Kelly, the Greenizen