As our detrimental toll on the environment continues to reach ever-the-more-higher levels, it is all of our responsibility, as global citizens, to stop and think about what the environment means to us and the actions we can individually or together take to ease our carbon footprint. While Earth Day is a great way to spread awareness about environmental issues, the occasion shouldn’t be reserved to one day out of the entire year. Instead, it should be a daily awareness. If you live a conscious lifestyle, you inevitably contribute to the well-being of not only yourself but also the world. Here are 7 ways that you can make everyday Earth Day.
1. Set a “Green Goal” Each Week
The best way to motivate yourself and stick to the bigger picture is to set mini goals throughout the year. Take one week at a time. At the beginning of the week, decide on reaching one “green goal” by Sunday. This could be anything related to reducing consumption of water, electricity and gas, such as turning down the thermostat a few degrees, foregoing doing laundry more than once that week or taking a TV hiatus. As the week progress, you can repeat the same goal or add on another, making sure to carry the previous week’s goal into the new week. By the end of the year, you’ll have reduced your carbon footprint significantly and reached a new level of consciousness.
2. Go Veg
The production of meat may have a bigger impact on the planet than anything else. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that livestock was accountable for some 18 percent of human-caused greenhouse gases. The production of beef, especially, takes a toll on the environment. To make one steak, 28-times more land, 11-times more irrigation water, five-times more greenhouse-gas emissions and six-times more fertilizer is required than what is needed to produce other sources of commonly-eaten protein, such as pork and poultry. To cut your carbon footprint through your diet, try to minimize your consumption of meat. If you eat meat daily, start by taking one day off in the week and then attempt to progress to the point where you only have meat 1-3 times per week. Or, think about going vegetarian altogether!
3. Join a Community Organization
Motivation can be difficult when you are in something alone. Seek out others who are interested in changing their habits (and the world!) by joining local environmental organizations. You will become even more passionate about the earth and rest easier at night knowing you are doing good.
This is something all of us can incorporate into our daily lives without much fuss. Whenever you leave the house or when not in use, unplug all of your electronic devices. So-called phantom energy (or “vampire power”) is the electricity taken from outlets when equipment is off but still plugged in. Phantom energy can account for 15 percent of more of the total electricity used up by these devices. Make it a habit and it will become second nature to unplug.
5. Go Minimalist
Less is more. Don’t hold onto anything in your house that you don't use or value. Needing less will lead you to consume less, which will in turn help to minimize the gross overconsumption Americans engage in on a daily basis. We tend to be eager for newer, bigger and better things, even though we are likely content with having a lot less in our hands. Invest in quality items that have a long lifespan and an enduring aesthetic so you don’t have to constantly replace them.
6. Get a Bike
If you live in a bikeable city, take advantage of it! You not only save the environment from some carbon emissions but also give your body a workout. Feel the difference in the more breathable air and see the difference on your scale. If you don’t live in a bike-friendly city, try walking, carpooling or using public transportation to reduce the emissions made when commuting alone in your vehicle.
7. Redefine Your Wardrobe
The environmental hazards of the textile industry are alarming. Farmers use pesticides to protect textiles, which can harm wildlife and contaminate crops we will one day eat. Meanwhile, with the changing seasonal fashion trends, consumers are eager to get the latest and greatest styles while ditching last season’s wear. This leads to an increase in non-durable, low-quality clothing that is literally made to last only long enough to make it to the next season, when it is then chucked in order to make room for the next round of clothes. This leads to a build up of textile waste in landfills – waste that takes 30-40 years to decompose. Unfortunately, fashion giants feed off of consumers’ ability to dispose of clothing easily and without much thought.
Cotton is the most pesticide-intensive crop in the world. The chemicals typically remain in the fabric after finishing, and are released during the lifetime of the garments. The addition of GMOs to the cotton crop only adds more problems. Growing cotton utilizes 22.5 percent of all the insecticides used globally. Meanwhile, growing enough cotton for one T-shirt requires 257 gallons of water. Bleaching and coloring clothing introduces even more chemicals to the mix.
Luckily, many fashion designers are taking note and reacting in a positive way by using more eco-friendly fabrics that are a product of organic farming. Such eco-friendly fashion design companies are growing by the minute. Do your part and attempt to hold on to the clothes you have for as long as possible and not making it a habit to shop for new clothes so often. Instead, invest in high-quality, timeless styles. When you do want to get rid of certain clothes, donate them to a thrift store or charity so that others can get more use out of them, even when you no longer can. Dive into vintage shops and find pieces that are truly one-of-a-kind.
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Photo Credit: cinzia bertodatto