15 May 10 Ways to Protect the Environment Today
An average person in Europe creates 480 kilograms of municipal waste every year. In the United States, this number doubles to more than 800 kilograms annually. On a global scale, a single person contributes to the emission of 4.8 tonnes of greenhouse gases yearly. When we add up our various footprints, every year, our planet is “richer” for more than two billion tons of waste that pollutes air, water, and ground, while the atmosphere takes in around 36 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.
When we talk about these whopping statistics, an individual may feel hopeless. How do you mitigate or solve such an all-encompassing problem? How does a regular person deal with billions of tonnes of waste and greenhouse gases that just keep piling on with no end in sight?
The answer may be surprising, but here it is – there’s a lot you can do. The control we have over this issue is far greater than it may seem at first glance. These changes start with modifying our own attitudes and daily habits we may not even be aware of. If you’re ready to adopt some of these small changes to your lifestyle – here’s where to start.
1. Use your bag while shopping
If charging for plastic bags at the supermarkets didn’t discourage you from piling them up in your drawers, their effect on the environment might help you drop this habit. A discarded plastic bag takes 20 years to decompose in the ground. If it reaches rivers, seas, and oceans, it can be a death sentence for animals who ingest it.
Apart from being kinder to the environment, cotton bags and backpacks are more practical compared to the plastic bags. They are reusable, they can carry more items, and the weight is distributed more evenly (your arms and back will be grateful for that!). It will also help you save a dime or two.
If you have to buy the plastic bags, try to keep their number at a minimum. For example, you can measure different fruits and vegetables in the supermarket and simply put all of them in one bag. Just tell the cashier there are multiple items and price tags in one bag – they won’t mind. Also, you can always reuse these bags.
2. Avoid plastic utensils and other disposable items
Plastic cups, utensils, and plates seem like a practical solution for large parties, allowing you to skip the endless dishwashing. However, their common use is not equally practical for the environment. This famous photograph explains it better than we ever could.
Disposable items may save you a bit of effort and time, but their use leaves long-lasting consequences on the environment.
Another example of piling up unnecessary plastic items are various food and cosmetics packages, especially those made in convenient, so-called travel size. If you travel often, buy a little travel bag available in drug stores and home equipment centers. It contains bottles you can refill with your favorite shampoos and lotions, without creating additional waste.
The same goes for buying food and cosmetics for regular use – large packages are more environment-friendly since they store more with less material. Some products, such as handwash, are even sold in as refills. Speaking of which, who says that every package needs to be thrown away after a single use?
3. Keep the package
Water bottle, pickle jar, plastic box with your favorite chocolate cream – all these items can stay in your kitchen and store your food for years to come.
With a little bit of creativity and decorative paper, boring cardboard boxes can easily turn into storage for your jewelry, precious memories, office supplies or even clothes.
4. Don’t throw away the old furniture
Before you get rid of an old wardrobe or couch – think again. Is it really beyond repair? Older furniture is often made of durable, high-quality materials, so it can easily take restoration. This is a great opportunity to save money, environment, and create a unique, personalized piece of furniture.
If the furniture has to go, you can always give it to someone. With detailed cleaning (steam cleaners are an eco-friendly way to deep clean your household) and some small fixes, it can serve someone else for years to come and prevent another large piece of junk from ending up in your local landfill.
5. Use eco-friendly cleaning products
During the epidemics, modern cleaning products have no competition. In regular circumstances, various detergents and gels are often an overkill for our households. While it’s fine to disinfect your home occasionally, most of the time it’s equally efficient and easy to clean using natural products such as vinegar, baking soda, and citric acid. It may sound very old-school, but once you try it, you’ll notice that this solution is extremely good at removing dirt, grease, and limescale. If you want to avoid DIY products, simply buy eco-friendly cleaning products available at larger drugstores and supermarkets.
The same goes for personal hygiene. Products such as natural soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and face creams are increasingly popular due to their positive effect on skin – and the environment.
Using natural, eco-friendly products can be your contribution to reducing pollution in rivers, seas, and oceans, whose ecosystems are hard hit by chemical pollution caused by detergents.
6. Save electricity and water
Practice a little dialogue with yourself – sort of like your parents going around the house and nagging. Does this light have to be on while I am not in the room? Does the water have to keep running while I am shampooing my hair or brushing my teeth? Quite often, we’re not even aware of the amount of precious energy and resources we waste for nothing. So try to be more conscious about your regular daily activities – this will have a positive effect both on your home budget and the environment, given that the greatest contribution to the greenhouse gasses emissions comes from electricity and heat production.
7. Use a bike and kick-scooters to move around
Although individual vehicles aren’t the main source of greenhouse emissions, you can still contribute to their reduction by using your car less often. Visiting your friends or going to work on a bike is a great way to enjoy the day, stay healthy, and keep the air easier to breathe.
If you’re traveling greater distances, public transport or sharing a ride with your colleagues may be an alternative. While it requires a little bit of additional organization, it’s a great way to save money and make daily commute a more pleasant experience.
8. Buy locally
Supporting local manufacturers is a great boost for the society and economy, but did you know it’s also environment-friendly? The manufacturing process and product distribution for local businesses are much simpler and takes less time. This results in using fewer resources such as electricity, water, and fuel to produce something and deliver it to the buyers. Also, the origin of supplies and materials used by local businesses is often more transparent and in line with fair-trade principles.
9. Eat less meat
Meat production is one of the largest sources of greenhouse emissions. While giving up meat entirely is a personal decision you make on your own, occasionally skipping meat can be a way to protect the environment without going full vegetarian or vegan. If you’re one of those people who cannot imagine their meal without a juicy steak, it’s time for some culinary experiments!
As weird as it may sound now, for thousands of years, people ate meat once a week or even less frequently – on special occasions. Nowadays, it has turned into a bad, excessive habit. So, it is quite possible to survive, eat enough, and even have an exceptionally tasty meal if you skip meat time after time.
10. Become proactive
Protecting the environment on a personal level doesn’t have to end with your own little habits. Do you want a greener neighborhood? Are you afraid that some local infrastructure project may harm the environment? Don’t stand aside. In every city in Serbia, there is an active civil society organization, such as Arhus center, which keeps track of the environment-related issues. Their mission are healthier, greener local communities all over the country.
Join local activities, round tables, and meetings with municipal representatives. Apart from protecting the environment, this can also change your own perspective, allowing you to go from bystander to active participant who makes a positive change.
If you’re interested in taking the first steps, join our newsletter – we’ll use it to inform you about the latest news from the environmental sector, volunteer camps and local activities focused on building a greener society!
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