Ten ways to reduce pollution in the environment
One world is large enough for all of us!
As we continue to live and breathe on this planet, we must become more energy conscious, if we are to continue to live and breathe on this planet! Use of natural resources, consumption and waste are all at peak levels, and rising. It is up to each of us to act individually and together to effect change that will make the planet habitable in the years to come. While wars are devastating to humankind, the blatant misuse of energy and resources potentially threatens our long-term survival as a species. It is by conserving energy at home, and growing an environment consciousness in our communities, that we can turn around the dire situation that the world is in now. We must act now!
Here then is a compendium of ten things that you can do today, or this week, to help reduce the impact you are having on the earth. As you go about implementing these ideas into your life, it is important that you inspire others. Please bring your attention to the personal enrichment that each of these items brings to you. They are practices of awareness, of connecting with the environment, and of hope. By embodying these qualities in our attitude, we create a positive experience for ourselves and the people we that we touch.
1) Bring your own bag when you go grocery shopping. Many grocery stores sell cloth bags, or you can just recycle ones that you already have. You can buy a cloth bag online if you like, here. They are very sturdy, and hold as much as the paper or plastic ones do. You can see an article here about how Ireland has addressed the issue of plastic bags by passing a 15 cent tax on each bag. initiated in 2002, it has eliminated 1 BILLION plastic bags per year.
2) Park your car. Every mile driven in a typical car produces a pound of exhaust waste, in the form of carbon dioxide. This amounts to tons of waste over a year. There is a converter here, that will tell you about how much you can reduce environmental pollution by driving less. There are benefits to not driving as well, whether it is exercise and neighborly interactions when walking or biking; or time to read or talk if carpooling or on the bus. And if you have to use your car (as I feel I have to) combine errands, work and other activities to promote driving less overall.
3) Increase your awareness of electricity use. Turn off appliances and lights when they are not in use. Be particularly aware of cable boxes, video boxes; and to a lesser extent TVs and DVD players. They consume almost as much energy off as they do when they are on! Anytime an appliance is off and there is a light, or clock going (like on a microwave) there is what is called a ghost load. Just unplug it when not in use, or better yet put it on a power strip with an on/off switch. You'll save energy, and cut down on the air pollution that electrical plants - that are often coal powered - create. Click here to find out more about how various household items and activities use energy based on data that you input.
4) Eat less meat. The energy required to produce 1 calorie of beef is 18 TIMES more than that required to make a calorie of wheat. It is mindboggling; however, if we examine the water required to produce a pound of beef, it is just over 5200 gallons. The water pollution is one problem that is out of control when it comes to the meat industry. Every meal that replaces meat with vegetables, beans or soy protein, and grains makes a significant dent in the overall environmental picture. One really good source of information here is a book by Michael Pollen called The Omnivores Dilemma.
5) Buy locally. Locally grown food travels at most a couple of hundred miles, and is usually picked the day before, if not the day of, delivery. In contrast, the average piece of produce found on your grocer's counter has traveled 1500 miles! In addition, it often need some refrigeration and packaging to survive the 4 - 7 days it takes before it gets there. And it's not just produce that is made locally; many things you can get at the big box is either being made locally, or in those cases where they aren't, they can often be purchased second hand. A lot of pollution can be avoided by just buying locally whenever possible.
6) Plant a tree. Start a garden! Planting a shade tree can significantly impact heating bills once it reaches maturity. Planting a garden is a joyful activity that cuts down on the energy needed to get vegetables to your table. If you don't have the room for a garden, you can alwaysgrow sprouts in your house or apartment. They are one of the most nutritious and easy to grow foods ever, containing not only essential vitamins and minerals, but also life supporting qualities not readily found in other foods.
7) Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Yes, it's cliché; but, putting it into action isn't. We don't have to always buy something; and nine times out of ten I find that when I'm confronted with the choice or desire to purchase, that simply breathing for a moment is enough to satisfy me. There are many innovative ways to reduce; one way is to purchase things in bulk, thereby cutting down on packaging and expense. Another is to make certain that all batteries are properly recycled, and then to replace the appliances that use them with corded varieties. Or, in the case of remote controls and other items that don't have cords, to get batteries that can be recharged at home.
8) Join national groups to put pressure on governments and corporations to cut down on their energy consumption. When a law like the one in Ireland is passed, and literally billions of plastic bags are removed from the equation, it dwarfs what the individual can do. Yet, it was individuals who created the law, lobbied for it, and then signed it into action. Here is a site (the NDRC) with environmental petitions to sign and lots of other great information about the environment. And here is another (the EDF).
9) Put less load on your furnace and air conditioner. Either by getting a more efficient model, or by adjusting the thermostat. And while you're adjusting that thermostat, don't forget the ones on your hot water heater (recommended to be set at 120 degrees F.) and the refridgerator. If you want to really make an impact for years to come, you can receive tax credits (in the United States - through 2016 for certain items) for various other types of improvements to your home's energy efficiency. It's worth looking into, as you'll get money back from the government, and spend less money in the years to come as well.
10) Compost! Even the most diligent cook is going to come across a lot of scraps, ends, peels and bruised produce that can't be prepared. And, often there are bits and pieces of food that don't get eaten, and start to go bad. Starting a compost pile in the back yard is just the thing for them! Easy to take care of, the rewards are numerous. Healthier plants make for less pesticide use; and the compost can be used anywhere, indoors or out. Apartment dwellers may find that their local city has a composting program; or they can get an indoor composting unit.
A year has passed, and I've written another article about things you can do to help save the environment. My perspective has changed, and I figured I'd better write about it again.
Here's #8 from that list:
Increase your awareness of the urgency of the situation.
There are many popular authors on the subject. Al Gore, Will Tuttle and Derick Jensen all come to mind. Check out their books from the library. Just as important as the facts and figures presented by these authors is the certainty created in your mind by reading them.
Here are a couple more article links worth reading about.
And another about refrigerators.
That's about it for me . . . now I wonder what you have to share about how to help reduce your impact on the environment?