10 Steps You Can Take Today to Help the Environment
1. Shop local
Farmers markets, CSA, drive down the road to your local farm, local consignment stores, small businesses, non-chain restaurants—there are tons of ways to give back to the community you live in. By purchasing local, you reduce the amount of items shipped across the country/world while financially supporting your neighbor.
2. Drive less
Many of us are still working from home and driving less in general, but there are other options to keep fewer cars on the road: carpool, public transit, or take a bicycle. All of these options help reduce pollution.
3. Donate your extra food
Regularly clean out your fridge and your cupboards. If you are not going to eat it (and be honest, if it’s been in there awhile, you’re probably not going to cook it), donate it! Food waste contributes to 21 percent of landfill volume. Plenty of food pantries would love your extras—just make sure they’re not expired.
4. Be careful what you eat
Try reducing your dairy and meat intake—a large portion of methane emissions comes from dairy cattle. Also eat at sustainable food restaurants or places that cook with local produce and meats.
5. Donate you’re clothes
Whether they’re old or “old”, don’t throw them away! Americans toss 10.5 million tons of clothes annually. Unless it has holes or is stained, donate it. And while you’re at the donation center, browse through the racks—you might find a hidden gem or two to reuse and further reduce waste.
6. Discover your green thumb
Plot a garden in your backyard, join a community garden, or even buy some pots and grow tomatoes on your deck. Growing your own produce reduces fuel emissions from food transportation and also reduces plastic bag usage.
7. Buy used items for household projects
Have a small remodel project or in need of a change of furniture? There are many different options for purchasing slightly used items for a fraction of the cost of something new. Check out a local Habitat for Humanity Restore for a “new to you” appliance replacement. Research via Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace instead of going to a big box store for your next kitchen table. Anything you reuse will reduce what might end up in a landfill.
8. Conserve Energy
The simplest way to conserve energy is to turn off the lights when you don’t need them. You can also purchase energy saving light bulbs and appliances, add insulation to your attic, and even install a solar panel if you like! All of these help reduce carbon dioxide.
9. Reduce, reuse, and recycle
By recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Visit your local garbage/recycling center’s website to discover what types of materials are recyclable. You might be surprised to learn what those numbers on the bottom of plastic items actually mean, and what can and can’t be put in the recycling bin.
10. Reduce single-use
Single-use water bottles account for a HUGE amount of waste in landfills. Purchase and use multi-use bottles instead—they can go in the dishwasher! Plastic straws are another major contributor of waste, and many end up in the ocean or environment—drink directly from the cup, not from a straw.