Environmental changes on our planet are concerning almost everyone these days. While fixing climate change and protecting the flora and fauna we have may sound like overwhelming tasks, every single person can make a difference in small ways.
Here are eco-friendly ways to make the planet a better place for everyone:
Save the Bees
If the bees don’t survive, humanity is in a lot of trouble. Not only do they make delicious honey, they’re the earth’s chief pollinators, helping many plants reproduce — including many fruit and vegetable varieties that humans rely on for nourishment.
But bee populations are in decline, largely because of the changing environment, the loss of their natural habitats and pesticides. To help steer the bees on the reverse course you can:
- Let the dandelions grow. While you’re at it, let the clover thrive. A perfectly manicured lawn isn’t everything and bees need those native wildflowers as a source of nutrients. If you can’t commit to the “natural” look for your whole yard, consider designating a patch of your yard that’s out of sight of the neighbors as your “bee-friendly” zone.
- Plant native flowers in your garden. The more diverse the garden, the better it is for bees. In Indiana, for example, hydrangea bushes and purple coneflowers are some of the hardiest indigenous flowers you can have in your garden. They look nice and provide plenty of bee food.
- Skip the pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. While you may not have perfect plants, you also won’t contaminate the bees with chemicals that could kill them or leave them sterile.
Even if you think that your contribution is small, that little patch of wildflowers or your chemical-free yard can be an oasis for any bees that are around.
Human food production and consumption can be a major source of environmental problems, contributing to about one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse effect. A large part of that is due to the destruction of forests and marshes and other types of ecologically diverse areas to make way for additional farm animals or the crops needed to feed them.
To reduce your carbon footprint (and eat healthier at the same time), you can:
- Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy. A “meatless Monday” meal for the family, for example, can help.
- Go vegetarian or vegan. If your health permits it, a vegetarian or vegan diet might be your thing. There’s plenty of tasty vegetarian and vegan options available almost everywhere.
- Buy local produce. Buying local helps support independent farms that are less toxic to the environment and reduces the environmental damage caused by transporting produce across great distances.
- Eat seasonally. Again, by trying to focus on produce that’s available during the season, you’ll help reduce the need to transport the food so far or treat it with chemicals to keep it preserved.
- Eat organically. Remember the bees? Organic food is produced with an eye toward sustainability, without a lot of harmful chemicals. That’s better for you and the environment.
You can even find plenty of restaurants that have tuned in to the importance of sustainable eating. In Indianapolis, for example, you can find plenty of “farm to table” restaurants like Cafe Patachou and Public Greens. You can eat well and still protect the environment.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
If you’re ecologically minded, it’s important to cut down on your waste products as much as possible. Embedding the phrase “reduce, reuse and recycle” into your subconscious can help inform a lot of your daily choices and help you inch closer to the minimal carbon footprint that you want.
Here are some specific actions that can help you get there:
- Ditch the plastic and the paper at the store. Reusable cloth bags can be tucked into your car between trips, and they have the added bonus of not ripping or tearing all the time when you’re trying to carry a heavy load.
- Shop thrift stores. The fashion industry produces a whopping 10% of the planet’s carbon emissions, so do your part to shut it down. Ditch the chains of fashion, create your own style and troll the thrift stores for most of what you need.
- Eliminate one-use plastics. Get a reusable water bottle with a filter and use it to hold water from the tap instead of buying bottled water at the store. Instead of buying single-serving plastic bottles of soda, buy the two-liter bottles or make sweet tea in glass containers.
- Donate whatever you don’t want. Instead of tossing old clothes, books and other household objects, consider donating them to a thrift store instead. Your trash may genuinely be someone’s treasure.
- Stop printing things out. Unless you absolutely need a hardcopy of a specific document, it’s just as easy (and often more convenient) to store papers online in the cloud with a backup on a zip drive.
- Recycle your electronics. Cell phones, e-readers, chargers, GPS devices and computers can all be recycled. Most large electronics stores maintain a recycling program for electronics — and some will even give you a coupon off your next item when you bring in an old computer or phone.
With some creativity, you can limit your waste to almost nothing and greatly reduce your personal impact on the environmnet.
A lot of times, people don’t take more steps to protect the environment simply because they don’t know how. You can make another difference by sharing this message with your family, friends and co-workers, and working together.