Being Isabella

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Lifestyle

Small Ways We Can Help Save Our Planet

February 24, 2019
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As scientists continue to study the effects of climate change, we can be tempted to throw our hands up and assume we can’t do anything to stop the worst effects of the change. While we cannot reverse what has already been done, there are numerous ways the average person can make their daily routine more eco-friendly including,  limiting pollution and release of CO2 into the atmosphere, conserving energy, and reducing water use. In fact, a healthy lifestyle should include being conscious and respectful of the environment. It can also help keep your cost of living down. What follows is a list of the lifestyle changes, that will help slow the effects of climate change. Read on, and please share ways you’re making a positive impact on the planet in the “Comment Section” below.

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Glass/Plastic:

1. Always Recycle Glass: Did you know that glass can take up to a million years to decompose? Crazy, right? This is the most important reason why you should always recycle glass. It will reduce water and air pollution created in glass manufacturing, save raw materials and lessen the demand for energy. The amount of energy needed to melt glass that has been discarded as trash is considerably more than if it’s simply recycled into new bottles and jars.

2. Stop Using Plastic Water Bottles for and Switch to Reusable Bottles: This is a tip most people are aware of, yet few bother to do. Bottled water is handy when you’re on the go, but why not buy one bottle and then refill it from the tap or a water cooler at work? Around 90% of water bottles end up decomposing in landfills and beaches or adrift in the sea. This is one of the easiest tips to implement into your lifestyle and to stick with.

3. Forego the Forks: If you’re ordering takeout at home, there’s no need to use plastic forks and knives. One of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly is simply to ask the restaurant not to include napkins, utensils, or condiments with your order. You’ll be eating at home anyway, so you might as well use your own utensils. The food will also taste better and be more enjoyable to eat!

4. Bring Reusable Bags When you Go Shopping: Plastic carrier bags are not biodegradable, nor are they recyclable. They sit in landfills where they end up polluting the water supply and infiltrate food sources. Instead, buy a strong, reusable bag. I keep a stack of them in the trunk of my car so whenever my family and I go shopping we are always prepared. If you are without your reusable bags, opt for a paper bag over instead a plastic one.

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Food:

5.  Eat A Plant-Based Diet: You don’t have to give up meat and animal products all at once, but try to commit to one plant-based day a week. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef and fifty-five square feet of forest is leveled to provide grazing land that will yield just one hamburger.  Meat production―especially mass-produced beef―is extremely resource-intensive. It can take seven or more pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef, and livestock consumes 70 percent of America’s grain. If you alone commit to giving up animal products once every seven days, 840 gallons of fresh water would be saved. Take the time to learn where your food comes from and the effect it is having on our planet. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet, please add a note in the comments section and I will provide you with more information in a future post.

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6. Reduce Your Food Waste: We’ve all commented about how much food people can eat. We rarely discuss, however, how much food is not eaten. In the United States, 40 percent of food is thrown out every year. In fact, the amount of global food waste produced each year is more than enough to feed the nearly 1 billion hungry people in the world. Instead of filling empty plates, that wasted food usually ends up in landfills and eventually turns into a destructive greenhouse gas called methane. What’s more, wasting food means wasting valuable resources like water and energy, that go into the production of food. Luckily, there are several easy ways we can be more aware of our consumption and reduce the amount of food waste we produce daily.

  1. Make a plan: Most of us know you shouldn’t go grocery shopping when you're hungry. (Five bags of chips? Totally necessary.) Tackling the aisles with a list can prevent you from loading up the cart with items you don’t need or will end up in the trash). Plan your meals a week in advance. Figure out what ingredients are required for each, and write them all down on a list. As long as you stick to the plan, there shouldn’t be much left over. If there is, you’ll have a perfect and delicious lunch for the next day.
  2. Keep track of the trash: Start logging a weekly record of every food item you toss in the garbage. That way, you can notice patterns in your eating habits. For example, if you find that you throw away a bag of lettuce and spoiled milk every week you can tweak your shopping habits accordingly.
  3. Learn to love leftovers: Few people want to eat the same thing for dinner five nights in a row, but throwing away the remainders of last night’s meal just to avoid boredom isn’t eco-friendly or cost-effective. Instead, get creative in the kitchen and experiment with new dishes using whatever you have in the fridge or using leftovers. Another option is to freeze leftovers so you can enjoy them at another time.
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7. Compost: Think about how much trash you make in a year. Most of your trash comes from foods that can easily be composted to fertilize soil and make new food. Composting is easier than you think and makes a great natural fertilizer. You don’t live on a farm or have a backyard to do the eco-friendly thing with your trash. Composting means recycling nutrients back into the ecosystem, which keeps waste out of landfills and waterways and enriches the soil. Set aside a tub for biodegradable materials such as fruits, vegetables, and animal products. Ask around in your neighborhood and apartment. You might be surprised to find out your apartment has its own composting system.

8. Eat Locally: Did you know some of the food in your last meal might have traveled 1,ooo miles to get to your table? Find food grown close to your home: farmers markets, locally owned shops, and conscientious supermarkets all offer locally grown produce. By purchasing locally grown food you’ll conserve fuel, reduce pollution, and enjoy fresher produce. The definition of “eating local” varies, but it typically involves efforts to consume foods that are produced closer to home and becoming more cognizant of where your food comes from. Eating locally requires far less energy for shipping and uses less packaging than food from a grocery store. Eating locally also helps to support farmers who care about and protect the environment and wildlife. There is also evidence that suggests eating foods produced locally may be more nutritious. Another easy (and tasty) way to eat locally is to buy produce seasonally. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint by minimizing the distance the produce has to travel to get to your plate. As with any health habit, it’s best to set realistic goals instead of overhauling your entire diet. Begin by focusing on five foods you currently consume that you can buy locally on your next shopping trip. Anything from apples to pasta will do. With a little effort, that number may expand to include the entire contents of your fridge.

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Paper/Trash:

9. When You See Trash, Pick it Up: This is a tip we should all incorporate into our lives. Just think about it, if each of us were to pick up a single piece of trash of the streets and throw it away, imagine how much cleaner our streets would be!

10. Don’t Waste Napkins: We’ve all done it – on the way out of Starbucks we take a napkin or two more than we needed, only to throw them away unused. If everyone used one less napkin a day, we could save acres of space in landfills.

11. Use All of the Paper: If you jot a note down on paper, save it and use the rest of the sheet for your notes. Remember to print on both sides of the page, use the back and the front of note cards, and recycle it all!

 

Electricity:

12. Turn Off the Lights When You Leave A Room: Save energy and money by getting into the habit of switching off the lights when you leave the room. Not only will you conserve energy but you’ll also lower your energy bills.

Water:

13. Turn of Water When You’re Not Using It: Turning the tap off while brushing your teeth can save five gallons of water per day. If we all took this one small step we would save 1.5 billion gallons in the US alone. Imagine if we did this all over the world! We should all apply this simple tip to every activity that uses water including, washing dishes, washing your hands, bathing, brushing your teeth, and more.

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Share What You Know

14. Spread the Word and Inspire Others to be Sensitive to the Environment: Most people are unaware of how their actions can damage the environment and how by modifying their lifestyles in simple ways they can help bring about positive change. Share this list with your friends. While it might not seem like taking two fewer napkins will make a difference, over time, all these changes add up to a really positive impact on the environment. If all of us share what we know about helping the environment, think of the mass chain reaction! Let’s work together to make the world a better place.