When we are faced with a puzzle that is too difficult to deal with on our own – it has too much surface area and far too many tiny pieces – the natural reaction is to shrug and avoid even starting. We think: I can’t make a difference alone. When it comes to the quest to save the environment, this sentiment is especially intense. Too complicated, too much ground to cover, too little momentum, and not enough resources. It’s hard to feel like individual actions are doing anything groundbreaking in making a change, especially when those around us aren’t playing their parts. Fortunately, individual actions do matter, and not always when taken into consideration as a collective – in and of themselves, they matter. And while you may intellectually agree with me, it’s hard to truly see that this statement is true. Here’s your proof: five small, individual actions that lead to big environmental gains.
5 Small Actions that Save the Environment
1. Skip Red Meat Once Per Week
Besides the obvious benefits of cutting down on meat consumption, there are significant ways in which forgoing beef can affect the environment. Cows and sheep emit large quantities of methane, a gas that contributes to global warming. Going vegan can reduce your total carbon emissions by 20%, but cutting out beef makes a significant difference on its own. Some 2,500 gallons of water and more than seven pounds of grain are needed to produce just one pound of beef! If one pound of meat can be separated among three burgers, that means if you gave up eating beef once per week, you’d be saving nearly 840 gallons of fresh water.
If you leave the electronic devices in your home plugged in, even when they are not in use, you’re wasting energy. Electronic equipment (think: televisions, standing lamps, kitchen machinery, and phone chargers) continues to drain energy from electrical sockets. If your cell phone charger, for example, stays plugged in even when it is not in use, it ends up emitted about 93 pounds of CO2 for no reason. Unplug all devices that are not in use. It may seem laborious, but if you make it a natural part of your daily routine – plugin prior to use and plug out after use – the extra few seconds of thought can make a big difference!
3. Plant a Tree
This is perhaps one of the most constructive ways to help the environment: plant trees! If you have a backyard, make use of it. Each tree you plant can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and emit 260 pounds of oxygen into the atmosphere during this same time.
4. Re-Think Your Faucet & Shower
This tip is not about brushing your teeth, per se. Instead, it’s about what many of us do while we are brushing our teeth: we keep the faucet running. For every minute faucet water runs without being used, some two and one-half gallons of water is wasted. Most shower heads use as much as five gallons of water per minute. Cut your shower a few minutes shorter and you save quite a bit of water at the same time.
5. Walk/Bike More and Drive Less
Simply by reducing your car mileage from 15,000 to 10,000 miles per year saves about one ton of carbon emissions from the entering the atmosphere. This also reduces your average annual footprint by some 15%.
To achieve this feat, try walking and cycling more between shorter distances or pairing car errands together so that you reduce the number of trips being made to and from your home.
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