Extreme weather leading to floods and forest fires, melting polar ice caps, pollution of the air, water and land … sometimes it can feel like our environmental problems are so big that we can’t do anything about them. But as they say, there is no planet B. If we want future generations to still have a place to live in, we should start cleaning up our act now. This requires making good lifestyle choices, being mindful of the impact of our carbon footprint and advocating for movements that help save the earth.
Easier said than done, I know. But do we have a choice? While it may not be possible for us to live a life with zero impact on the environment, we can start by making small changes that in time, may produce big results. To help you out, we would like to suggest some simple efforts that you could do today. Every simple daily actions can make a big difference. These actions we can do to make our lives greener.
It could seem a little bit trivial, but recycling both at home and while travelling is an essential habit for the environment. Reduce waste by not buying disposable items. Reuse items like paper, cloth or plastic so they don’t end up in landfills. The majority of cities have already started a recycling program; if the place you’re in hasn’t started it yet, then it’s your turn! And don’t forget to let children know about recycling. According to Legambiente, by recycling half of the waste we produce, we can reduce the level of CO2 and we can also reduce pollution.
Here are a few simple ways to save energy:
- Use energy efficient light bulbs. Choose LED (light emitting diode). An eight or nine watt bulb emits as much light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. This saves energy and saves you money too.
- Turn off lights when not in the room.
- Turn off your computer at night or when not in use. You will use up less energy to recharge.
- Use rechargeable batteries whenever possible.
- Adjust temperature in your home and office.
You will also save some money as your bills will be reduced.
Tiekom can help you save up to 40% on your electricity bill with green energy, send us your bill and we will do a free savings study.
Turning off the tap while brushing teeth is a great example of a little thing that makes a big difference. Doing this saves gallons of water per day. Just imagine the amount of water you save when multiplied by the number of people in your household! You could also consider shortening your shower time (shortening it by two minutes can save more than 10 gallons of water), inspecting and fixing leaky faucets immediately, and using a professional car wash (since they use less water) instead of washing your car yourself.
If you are considering starting a garden this spring, learn about the plants you wish to cultivate first so you can avoid overwatering. Interested in other simple ways to save water? Get more tips here: 100 ways to conserve water by Ground Water Canada.
Did you know that the food and drinks you choose to have an impact on the environment? Producing the food that we eat requires resources such as water and soil, energy for processing and packaging, as well as fuel to transport them. Studies have shown that animal-based foods use up more of these resources than plant-based foods. Choosing to eat fruits, whole grains, nuts and vegetables, especially those grown locally, is more sustainable for the environment in the long run. But this does not mean that you have to give up meat for life (but you could if you wanted to)! Even having one meatless day a week counts as a good contribution to the cause.
Food waste is another issue that contributes to pollution. It is estimated that half of all food waste happens at home. Wasted food ends up on landfills and produces methane, a greenhouse gas (greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun, warming the planet. As the volume of these gases increase, more warming occurs, Prairie Climate Centre). This is why proper food storage; meal planning and smart shopping are important for every household. Read Canada’s Food Guide. It has great tips on healthy eating and conserving the environment.
Plant trees in your backyard or join tree-planting drives. It is estimated that a young tree can absorb CO2 at a rate of 13 pounds (5 kilograms) per tree every single year. And when it matures (in about 10 years) it can absorb 48 pounds (21 kilograms) per year. Trees are also capable of removing sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and small particles, making the air we breathe fresh and healthy for us.
You can also help save trees by reducing paper use. Subscribe to an online account or use e-tickets so that you will not need paper bank statements, bills or printouts. Use online directories instead of the bulky book. Recycle newspapers, or better yet, subscribe to an online newspaper. Recycling newspapers even once per week saves half a million trees. Has your office gone paperless yet? Maybe start an initiative to reduce paper use around the office.
Carpool/Use public transport/Bike or walk
In order to reduce your carbon footprint, choose to move by train rather than by car, avoid cruises and if possible, move by bike. Remember to use public transports to avoid air pollution. When you do not have the chance, you could always use the carpooling! Not only will you drive in a greener way, but also in a more enjoyable one.
Give up plastics
It is estimated that eight million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. This amount accumulates year after year because it is non-biodegradable, meaning it does not break down. It is instead eaten by sea life, making them sick or killing them. This also means that plastic has become part of our food chain; we may inevitably eat contaminated seafood.
Avoiding plastic will not only divert a ton of waste from the oceans but from landfills as well. Start by using reusable/recycled bags for your groceries and when shopping for clothes and other items. Do your best not to buy items that are packaged with a lot of plastic materials, and don’t use disposable plates, spoons, stirrers, cups, straws and napkins. Stop buying bottled water! Having a reusable tumbler (preferably glass) on hand and refilling it with filtered tap water will be good for the environment, not to mention healthier and more economical for you.
Educate yourself and other
Learn more about climate change, conservation, recycling and the environment. Be involved and join discussions about environmental efforts and help others understand the value of our natural resources. Be a good role model to the youth, especially your kids, by walking the talk in your everyday life. You can also share this list with others and help make the world a better place!