When thinking of going green, the same things come to mind: recycling, CFL light bulbs, and turning off the water when possible. These are important and can have a big impact, but they’re far from the only way to help Mother Earth.
In addition to recycling, try composting.
Recycling saves trees, protects biodiversity, reduces the use of toxic chemicals, and so much more. It’s a crucial step in saving our resources, and should not be underestimated, but you can take your efforts one step further by starting a compost bin in your backyard. Compost stimulates bacteria that break down organic matter into nutrient-rich humus. Humus revitalizes poor soil, discourages erosion, and cleans soil that has been polluted. This video demonstrates how to start a compost bin and gives more information about its benefits.
Pay attention to the food you’re putting into your reusable grocery bags.
Plastic grocery bags are not biodegradable, but they are still liable to degrade in the light and release toxins into the environment, and they’re difficult to recycle. Switching to reusable grocery bags could prevent up to 100 billion plastic bags from ending up in a landfill as reported by Reusethisbag.com. This would obviously make a huge, positive difference in the environment. However, the contents of the bags are just as important as the material out of which they are made. Water in food makes up about 50% of our “water footprint.” (You can test your water footprint here.) Gracelinks.org says one pound of wheat requires 138 gallons of water to grow, one pound of pork takes 576 gallons,, and one pound of beef takes at least 1,800 gallons.
Seafood lovers need to be aware of the state of the oceans and know how to make ocean-friendly choices when buying seafood. Seafood Watch is an app that guides people through the process of buying seafood with lists of foods to buy and foods to avoid. It’s available for Android, iPhone, and in the form of a pocket guide.
Have a reusable water bottle? Great! Now start bringing reusable containers to restaurants!
According to Bulletinbottle.com, 24 billion water bottles are thrown away and end up in landfills or as litter every year. Producing this many plastic bottles requires over 17 million barrels of oil. In addition to being devastating to the environment, the water in throwaway bottles is less strictly regulated than tap water, making it less healthy. Most people know that simply switching from a disposable bottle to a reusable one can keep hundreds of bottles out of landfills and reduce the energy needed to produce them. Although everyone seems to know about the importance of using reusable water bottles, few people ever think about bringing a reusable container when they know they’ll be taking food home from a restaurant. Leftovers generally come in cardboard boxes, paper bags, or Styrofoam containers. Not all materials used in doggie bags can be recycled, and the ones that can be usually are thrown away. Bringing your own further cuts down on waste, and most restaurants have no problem with it.
It is absolutely imperative that everyone begins to reduce their impact on the environment and realize that their actions affect the planet on a much bigger scale. Teacher and Ecology Club moderator Lauren Wulker agreed.
“I see two fates for humanity,” she said. “I see one where we’ve squandered our resources beyond the point of repair and one where we collectively realize our role and pick up the pieces as stewards and caretakers of biodiversity.”