Make Your Environmental Footprint a Good One in 5 Ways
We live in a connected world. The choices each of us make every day have an effect — good or bad — on the world around us. Unfortunately, there are still a good many of us who feel our own actions won’t amount to more than a single drop in the ocean of change needed to bring us back from the brink.
Here’s the good news: Every single one of us has the opportunity to make a difference in the world.
Every individual can make a big impact on healing the environment — even with small or simple actions — because each positive change you make will encourage your spouse, children, neighbors, friends, and co-workers to make similar changes. And over time, these actions will combine to create a tidal wave of positive change for the planet.
Everyday Choices That Heal the Environment
All it takes is one idea, one action, or one person to start a revolution of change.
Look at the legacy of the Toyota Prius. In the early 2000s, when gas-guzzling SUVs ruled the road, Toyota introduced an eco-friendly, fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrid. It was a gamble, but it paid off. Before long, more auto companies were jumping into the hybrid revolution. Today, there are a bevy of electric vehicle options available to everyday consumers.
But you don’t have to be an automobile manufacturer to make a splash in the pool of sustainability. You don’t even have to make elaborate, sweeping lifestyle changes. Impact starts with changing your outlook, and your outlook is changed through developing new habits. All you have to do is change the way you look at and interact with the world. Evaluating your impact on the planet will not only inspire you to adopt more eco-friendly behaviors, but it will also encourage those around you to do the same.
Here are some great places to start:
1. Flick those light switches.
Whether it’s an unused conference room at work, your kids’ room at home, or the porch light outside, turning off lights in unused rooms has been shown to have a big impact on reducing carbon emissions. And if you begin by turning off at least five unused lights each day, you’ll soon establish a habit that will last a lifetime.
2. Turn off the hose — and the faucet.
Water shortages and droughts are becoming more frequent in the U.S. and around the world, and these issues aren’t expected to resolve anytime soon. In fact, with the average person using 100 gallons of water each day, many scientists predict that severe water shortages will soon be a nationwide calamity.
The best place to start reducing your water consumption is in the bathroom. Begin by turning the tap off while brushing your teeth. Next, shorten your showers by three minutes to save almost 2,500 gallons of water each year. Then, eliminate unnecessary toilet flushes — remember the old saying: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” This will save approximately two gallons per flush. And finally, place a bucket in your shower while the water is warming up, and then pour that water into your toilet tank for flushing.
3. Stretch your legs.
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is good for your health and the environment. Making the trek up the stairs will quickly become second nature, and when others see you skipping the lift, they’ll be inspired to do the same.
4. Kick the cans — and bottles.
Replace sugary sodas, sports drinks, and bottled water with water straight from the tap. It’s healthier for you, and the one-and-done containers of those other drinks create overwhelming piles of waste.
Tap water is just as clean as the stuff in the bottle, especially if you use a water filtration system. In fact, the quality of tap water is regularly monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency, whereas most bottled water isn’t regulated.
5. Start nibbling those greens.
Scientists at Oxford University found that meat-rich diets result in much higher carbon dioxide emissions than plant-based diets. Which means that eating more meat-free and dairy-free meals is not only good for you, but for Mother Earth, too!
If going completely vegetarian or vegan isn’t your thing, don’t fret. Start out making three meat-free meals each week, and work your way up to having one vegan or vegetarian meal per day — maybe a smoothie for breakfast or a soup/salad combo for lunch. There are lots of tasty possibilities, and it’s amazing how quickly you can develop the habit to pass on the burger in favor of a salad.
We can all make a positive impact on the planet by setting manageable goals and adjusting easy, everyday actions. Even the simplest efforts can inspire bigger changes in ourselves and those around us, creating a ripple effect of environmental healing.