5 Ways You Can Reduce Your Ecological Footprint Right Now
If you're like me and find yourself stressing about the impact of your carbon footprint and the rapid deterioration of our planet's overall health, your first inclination may be to panic. What can be done? Most of us don't have the money to afford installing solar panels on our roofs, investing in a clean air vehicle, or scrapping our fast fashion brand clothing for threads made from eco-friendly materials. The good news is, it doesn't have to be that complicated or taxing on your wallet to make the shift towards more environmentally conscious choices. Here are five easy and simple ways to begin reducing your environmental impact:
1. Incorporate Meatless Mondays Into Your Meal Prep One of biggest contributors to our current climate crisis is the livestock industry. Yes, as cute as cows are their farts, poo and burps are creating serious issues for our delicate ozone layer. The release of methane gas and subsequent buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is helping to accelerate the symptoms of climate change and global warming. While the livestock industry isn't going anywhere anytime soon, we have all the power to make smart choices about our food. I'll be totally transparent with you, I love meat and have no plans on completely cutting it out of my life. However, I have started incorporating more greens, vegetables, beans, and tofu into my diet to reduce the amount of meat I consume on a weekly basis. Not about that vegetarian or vegan life? Consider sticking to going completely meatless for one day out of the week and follow relevant hashtags on Instagram like #MeatlessMonday to keep you motivated, inspired and honest.
2. Just Say "No" To Single Use Plastics More and more states in the U.S. are passing legislation doing away with single-use plastics and other non-recyclable material such as styrofoam. Even big name brands like Starbucks are making the pledge to do away with plastic straws in all of their locations by 2020. We need to keep putting pressure on our local government and the brands we know and love to enact and stand by environmentally ethical standards and procedures. The next time you swing by the 'Bucks for an iced coffee, ask for one of those "sip lids." Speaking of coffee, if you're a caffeine addict like me you may want to invest in a few reusable thermoses. Your local coffee shop or Starbucks sells their own selection, but you can score some seriously cute BPA free cups online for a steal. Always thirsty? You can snag an 8-pack of reusable stainless steel straws online for less than $10. Ditch the single-use plastic bags for reusable totes that most grocery stores now offer to shoppers for a small fee. Opt out of the Dasani in favor of a few Nalgene or HydroFlask reusable water bottles. Take a lunch into work every day? Why not invest in some bento boxes and reusable cutlery?
3. LED The Way Making the switch to solar power brings high startup costs even if the long-term savings make the investment well worth it. However, switching your light bulbs from incandescent to LEDs can reduce up to 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide over the life of the bulb! They can last up to ten years - no more hassle of replacing a busted bulb - which translates to less landfill waste. You can also look into purchasing dimmer light switches, allowing you to control the brightness of each LED bulb.
4. Embrace Second Hand Fashion The resources and waste that go into making a single clothing garment add up. The fashion industry produces 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Yuck! The next time you need to update your wardrobe, head to a second hand store. Buying gently used clothing is better for the environment and some thrift stores donate a part of the proceeds to charitable causes. I'm a big fan of REI - the company and their products. Anyone that has shopped at REI knows their apparel comes at just as steep of a price point as their outdoor gear. The brand recently introduced a new section of their website where you can buy gently used gear and clothing for a fraction of the retail price. Yes please
5. Vote For Pedro (And Change) Vote like your future and your children's future depends on it because it absolutely does! Always vote in every election for the candidate who is most likely to support climate-friendly policies. Take initiative now by shooting an email to your local, state, and federally elected officials to support a carbon fee and dividend policy to provide incentives for companies and individuals to reduce carbon emissions.
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