Our planet is our home – it is where we breathe, eat, live and love. Yet every year the Earth continues to deteriorate due to human actions like pollution and overharvesting. If we do nothing to reverse this trend, our children will be forced to live in a hotter world with dirtier air and water, severe floods, droughts and depleted natural resources. By making a few simple changes to our lives, we have the ability to leave a better world for the generations that follow.
Greening Your Life
People think they have to change completely to go green – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Simple actions can make a huge difference in reducing your overall impact on the environment. In this section, you will find tips on how to green your life in easy and effective ways.
Reducing energy consumption is good for you and the environment. The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to cut energy use in your home.
These tips can help you save energy and reduce your electrical bills:
Install energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs.
Turn off lights and appliances when they are not in use.
Use power strips to switch off televisions, home theater equipment, and stereos when you’re not using them. Even when these products are off, their
“Standby” consumption can be equivalent to that of a 75 or 100 watt light bulb running continuously.
Ensure your house is properly insulated and windows are properly sealed.
Consider alternative energy sources such as solar power, which is rapidly becoming more affordable.
Use less fossil fuels
The burning of fossil fuels contributes over 21 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. The planet can naturally process about half that amount, which means there is a net increase of over 10 billion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year. Scientists agree that rising carbon emissions are contributing to global warming and the planet’s rising surface temperature.
These tips can help you reduce your fossil fuel consumption and save money on gas:
Try walking or biking to work, or whenever you have to travel a short distance. If your work place is too far for a daily bicycle commute, consider using mass transit.
Organize carpools with friends or coworkers.
Do your shopping online.
Buy a hybrid car. If this isn’t an option, convert your old diesel car or truck to run on vegetable fuel.
Simple actions like making sure your car’s tires are correctly inflated and staying under the speed limit can reduce carbon emissions and save you gallons at the pump.
In the United States, 36 states are expected to face serious water shortages due to rising temperatures, droughts, and increased urban sprawl in the next three years. Every drop of tap water you use consumes energy in the transport, filtering, and purification processes.
These tips can help you save water and reduce your water bills:
When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
If you reduce your showers by a minute or two, you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
Use your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street.
Water your lawn and garden in the mornings or evenings when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.
Eat green food
Eating is something everyone has in common, but eating certain types of food can have serious effects on the environment. You can change the world with your fork by eating green.
These tips can help you eat green and improve your health:
Eat seasonal, local, and organic food. Buying local food cuts down energy use and carbon emissions in distribution and transport.
Eat fair trade certified food. Transfair, the only fair trade certifier in the United States has rigid environmental standards in its certification process to insure that what you eat is both good for you and good for the Earth. Buying fair trade certified food improves and maintains proper wage and working conditions for those who grow and harvest food throughout the world.
Buy foods with bio-based packaging, limited packaging, or no packaging at all.
Compost your food waste and leftovers to limit waste in landfills. If you have a garden, composting can be very beneficial to your soil.
Limit your red meat consumption. Meat is the most resource-intensive food and eating less of it can be the single greenest move a person can make.
Meat production requires huge amounts of water, grain, land, and other inputs including hormones and antibiotics. A pound of beef requires around 12,000 gallons of water to produce, compared to 60 gallons for a pound of potatoes.
The world marketplace gives consumers an overwhelming amount of choice on products and services. You can make a positive impact on the environment with your purchases – when you buy green, you make the marketplace green.
These tips can help you become a green consumer:
Buy products from eco-friendly companies that are committed to sustainability. Purchasing goods and services from green companies creates incentives for other companies to follow suit and commit to eco-friendly business practices.
Buying grocery items in bulk saves money, conserves energy and reduces packing materials.
Be sure to buy high-quality products that use sustainable, non-toxic materials. Quality products made from eco-friendly materials will last you a long time and have a life-cycle that is better for the environment.
Wear clothing made from organic cotton, hemp or other alternatives. Cotton is heavily sprayed with insecticides that are harmful to you and the environment.
Use products made from natural and nontoxic ingredients.
Everyone is familiar with recycling, but it is becoming more and more vital as waste, energy and pollution statistics continue to climb. Recycling is one of the most efficient actions you can take to reduce pollution and save energy, natural resources and space for waste management.
These tips can help you make recycling a priority:
Keep two separate refuse bins for recyclable materials (cans, bottles and paper) and trash. This will save you the chore of sifting through one garbage can.
Buy easily reusable products like lunch boxes, razors, bags, utensils and mugs.
Buy products made from recycled materials. Many companies are making this easier and easier every day.
Bring your own bags to the store. This simple act can save tons of plastic material from going to landfill.
Donate things you don’t use. Clothing, appliances, furniture, tools or equipment: give the community a chance to put your unwanted things to use rather than simply throwing them away.
Volunteering can help you see and do new things, which can be both challenging and rewarding. One person can’t solve the world’s problems, but collectively we can help make those in need happier, healthier, and safer.
Volunteering Benefits Others
The world is not a perfect place. It is filled with people, animals, and communities that need our help. Governments and non-profit companies do their best to assist those in need, but it is impossible for them to do everything. People volunteer because they have the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Volunteering makes the planet a better place, where people work together in harmony to make life easier for all.
What Volunteers Do to Benefit Others:
Bring food to hungry people.
Find homes or clothes for those who need them.
Make neighborhoods safer and more beautiful.
Protect wildlife and natural areas.
Help care for pets and other animals.
Bring comfort and happiness to lonely people.
Care for people who are sick, or assist in treating and curing diseases.
Help people learn to read or do better in school.
Volunteering is Good for You
When you volunteer, you aren’t just working to benefit others – you are working to benefit yourself. Studies show that volunteering improves interpersonal and managerial skills, raises self-esteem, and increases energy levels.
Why Volunteering is Good for You:
Make new friends.
Gain important skills and experience.
Make connections that can lead to a job or career.
See more of your community and the world.
Build confidence and self-esteem.
Explore your life’s meaning and direction.
Feel needed and important.
Satisfaction at getting things done and helping others.
Meet potential mentors and role models.
Put your mind, body, and creativity to good use.
Get active and healthier.
Spend time doing what you really care about.
Gain an edge on getting into college.
Feel like you’re part of a community.
People who volunteer usually lead happier and more satisfying lives than those who don’t – that’s the secret of volunteering.