By Paige Mitchell
Conserving the environment has never been more important than it is today. Global warming continues to be a major challenge around the world. It’s affecting the entire ecosystem—not only our homes and businesses but the overall health of all living things.
Nevertheless, we all have to start somewhere. There are many ways each of us can begin minimizing waste in our everyday lives. Fortunately, most of these green methods require more thoughtfulness than effort.
We’re certainly innovating to find new ways of minimizing waste and it’s become trendy to embrace a green lifestyle, but when you look at the bigger picture, the amount of waste we have to clean up is overwhelming.
Going green in 2019 is quite possible and if everyone does their bit, we will be able to preserve and safeguard our planet for generations to come. Below are four ways—big and small—that you can practice to stick with your go-green goals in the new year.
1. Eat local, save the planet
The Natural Resources Defense Council posted a starting statistic: 40% of food goes uneaten in the however, one in eight people struggle to put enough food on the table. And that’s just in the US alone. There are several effortless ways to minimize food waste in your household.
First, learn how to accurately calculate the amount of food you need for dinner and parties based on the number of people you’ll be feeding, how much food you’d like to be leftover, and the type of meal you’re planning.
Secondly, you should get smart with storage. Learn how to store food in a way to keep it fresher for longer. When food is past its prime, research creative recipes to give ingredients a second life. For example, you could peel a batch of soft apples, toss them in the crockpot, and make applesauce.
Finally, you can minimize food waste by shopping strategically and at local markets. Meal planning is a bit of a buzzword these days but for good reason.To start, take a long look at what’s inside your refrigerator and pantry. Then, plan meals around the ingredients that are nearing their expiration date. When you’ve got a list, head to a farmer’s market or a grocery store that has locally sourced produce. That way, you’ll be giving back to your community rather than buying into the mass food production factories with shoddy standards.
2. Avoid plastic
Plastic is the most produced form of waste around the world. Plastic ends up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans, where the aquatic life is bearing the brunt of it all. Here are low-effort, high-reward ways to put plastic back in its place:
- Keep reusable totes in your car, so you never have to use a plastic grocery bag again. If you’re in a pinch, request paper bags at check-out.
- Replace water filters in your refrigerator or faucet to start drinking tap water more often.
- Carry a reusable glass or stainless steel water bottle with you to avoid buying bottled water when you’re on the go.
- Use plant-based tampons and sanitary napkins.
- Swap store-bought bottled harsh chemicals for homemade cleaning solutions, like vinegar and baking soda.
- Skip straws and plastic utensils when you order from restaurants and cafes.
- Store leftovers in glass containers rather than plastic containers or bags.
- When you’re between two similar products, choose the one that’s packaged in cardboard or paper over plastic.
Consider it at creative challenge to try to find new ways to compensate for any situation that you may need to use single-use plastic. If less plastic is used, less will be produced, and less will end up polluting the environment and our oceans.
3. Go electric
In 2019, electric vehicles are all the rage. These vehicles are revolutionary, offering an equally smooth and clean driving experience. Each electric vehicle means much less fossil fuel is burning.
We know. Switching to an electric vehicle is a huge investment in a green lifestyle. Although the ROI of buying an electric car will quickly pay off since you’ll be spending less money on gasoline and maintenance, it’s still not cheap by any means.
Some affordable alternatives include taking public transportation and carpooling to work. Although you’d likely still be commuting in a gas-powered vehicle, you’d at least be consolidating to one car instead of two. You could also bike and walk to town more often if you live within close proximity of wherever you’re going.
You might also start thinking more critically before jumping in the car. Are you going somewhere because you have to? If you’re taking a trip to a coffee shop or the mall just because you’re bored, you might decide to stay home and save money (and gasoline) instead.
4. Reduce, repair, reuse, recycle
Recycling is the most obvious but often forgotten ways to minimize waste.
Reduce—We’ve already mentioned ways to reduce plastic waste, but what about the rest? One idea is to unsubscribe from junk mail and enroll in online billing. You can also reduce utilities by taking quicker showers, waiting to run appliances until you have a full load of dirty dishes or laundry, and drawing curtains and opening windows to naturally brighten and cool a room.
Repair—Repairing broken household items rather than immediately replacing them can help conserve your footprint too. Electronic waste is expected to make up more than 57 million tons by 2021. When appliances and electronic devices aren’t thoughtfully disposed of, they sit in landfills for hundreds of years, unable to degrade and leaching toxins back into our environment.
Reuse—Before you throw anything away in your home, you should consider whether you can reuse it. Glass jars can become vases or drinking glasses, plastic containers can be reused over and over again for food storage, and cardboard packaging can be reimagined with crafts.
Recycle—Recycling can be difficult for those of us who live in city apartments, especially if your complex doesn’t enforce recycling. If you get serious about recycling, you might team up with other tenants and carpool to a recycling center once or twice a month. Those living in rural areas can easily recycle and even start composting.
Remember, any recycling efforts are better than none and together, it can go a long way in reducing the amount of waste that we produce. At the least, a collective consciousness of how wasteful we are today can spark energy and build momentum toward a more proactive, environmentally friendly approach to life.