We all want to help the environment, but it can be tough to get started. It’s not always easy to know how to help or even be aware of the things we’re doing that can hurt the environment. In this post, I’ll guide you through some basic steps you can think of daily to help the environment in your own way.
Reduce Your Waste
The first step in helping the environment is to reduce the amount of waste you contribute. Think of this as you go throughout your day. Do you get a single use cup of coffee on your way to work? How many plastic bags do you go through each week at the grocery store? Do you support brands that focus on their commitment to reducing waste or do you just buy whatever is on sale?
Most of the choices you make each day have either a positive or negative effect on the environment. The problem is that we don’t really think about these choices and we’ve been conditioned to accept a bag at the convenience store when only buying one or two items and to not think twice about getting a new single-use coffee cup every day.
Just keep the idea of reducing your personal waste in your day-to-day thoughts. You’ll be surprised at all of the opportunities you have to make a positive impact.
When You Reuse, You Help the Environment
This step is pretty easy, just reuse the things that you already have. Jars and deli-style containers can be reused as interesting glassware or storage containers (depending on shape and size). As a general rule, try not to buy food if it comes in packaging that you can’t reuse or easily recycle. You’ll definitely save money by not having to ever buy storage containers again 🙂
You can also keep this in mind when buying new household items. Things like paper towels, freezer bags and plastic wrap have reusable alternatives that you should consider. Yes, the reusable items usually cost more than the single-use ones. You’ll save money in the long run, though, because most of them last for at least 100 uses, and some last forever.
Think about reusing before you throw something in the garbage. Many items that seem like garbage can be reused or re-purposed. One example is old clothing items like socks – they can be re-purposed for cleaning cloths.
Reusing can also apply to purchasing new (to you) clothes, shoes and accessories. Try to buy items from local or online vintage + thrift shops when you can.
Refuse Unnecessary Items + Packaging
This part is simple: refuse things that you don’t really need!
This refers mostly to things like single use plastic bags. When you’re only buying a few things, let the clerk know that you don’t need a bag.
Try to get into the habit of bringing your own reusable bags when doing heavier shopping. When you’re out to eat, tell your server in advance that you don’t need a straw. Inform the person on the phone that you don’t need to-go cutlery, etc when you order take out.
These are simple ideas that are easy to put into practice. They just take some time to get used to. Once you get into the habit of not using unnecessary items, it will come to you naturally.
Help the Environment By Recycling
Recycling is an easy way for you to help the environment. You already consume a ton of items that are recyclable or come in recyclable containers. Now you just have to invest a small amount of time and energy to recycle them.
Most local municipalities provide recycling services of some kind. If your town/city doesn’t offer pickup, they probably have several drop-off stations where you can turn in your recycling.
If your area offers pickup, you just need to let them know you’re interested in participating and they will bring you a recycling bin. Then you’ll need to get your hands on an extra bin for you home where you’ll throw in your recyclables. Be sure to rinse used containers out before turning them in.
If your area doesn’t offer pickup, it will take a bit more effort on your part. You will need to have a few different bins to separate your recyclables. I suggest one for plastic, one for glass and one for paper/cardboard. Once you have enough recycling piled up, load it into your vehicle and take it to a local drop-off station.
Support Organizations that Help the Environment
If you want to help beyond what you’re personally capable of doing, consider donating to a charitable organization. There are many of them out there, so it’s easy to find an organization that fits with your specific interests/areas of concern.
If your main concern is the (mostly plastic) waste that’s making its way into our oceans and shorelines, consider 4Ocean. They focus on ocean cleanup and pledge to remove a pound of waste from our waters for every product that is purchased. Defenders of Wildlife is an organization that focuses on protecting endangered species and their habitats. On their site, they say that 97% of funds donated to them go to the actual cause. Another popular organization is Friend’s of the Earth. They fight for clean energy solutions and tend to fall more on the side of activism and lobbying governments to change policy.