10 Simple Ways to Help the Environment Daily

All of us should make more of an effort to make little changes in our lives to eliminate unnecessary waste. Every purchase we make, every piece of food we prepare, every where we go creates waste. Helping out the environment is a goal we all need to be making this year. You may hear reports of how we can help, but shrug it off because you think we can't make an impact. This simply isn't true, you can contribute a lot to the health of our planet. Here are some very simple things that we can all do to become greener people.

1. Use reusable shopping bags.

You can get these for pretty cheap at most grocery, craft and dollar stores. You can use cheap tote bags as well, and the bags come in all different sizes. Sometimes promotional events will give them away. There are so many plastic bags that get thrown away every day in the U.S. alone, and plastic takes over a hundred years to break down. Yes, you can recycle them, but not everyone has access to a recycling service. By using reusable bags you cut down on the amount of plastic waste you use. Keep some in your car or even in your purse.

2. Get a reusable water bottle.

This is a pretty obvious thing, but again, plastic takes a very long time to break down in nature and also requires quite a lot of energy to transport to recycling facilities and fuel to melt down to make more bottles. It’s much more economical and fuel efficient to invest in a nice water bottle.

3. Don’t use plastic bags at the grocery store when buying produce.

We all need to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, and stores provide plastic bags to put the produce into. But you really don't need to use those bags, since you will be washing your purchases anyway at home. So much food comes prepackaged today, so being mindful of that is important. You can get little bags to put little things like mushrooms, tomatoes, and limes in, and just be careful not to squash other things like lettuce, potatoes, apples, and actual squash.

4. Turn your down your heat.

Even in the colder winter months, and even when you are home. Stock up on thick sweaters, cozy socks, and fuzzy blankets. Not only will you be saving money, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint.

5. Carpool.

If you live in a city for work or school, consider carpool with roommates, coworkers and friends. You can use the carpool lane and everyone can pitch in gas money. And all of you will reduce the amount of pollutants you create by driving.

6. Try going meatless one day a week.

This doesn’t mean give up meat or animal products altogether. Humans, like all other omnivores, need a varied diet to live, which includes some form of protein. Protein is not just found in meat products, you can find it in dairy, grains, soy, legumes like nuts and beans, and any other sources. These options cost less than meat protein and are just as versatile. I personally like making a stew with a variety of beans and adding quinoa.

7. Reuse paper coffee cups.

If you enjoy a cup of fancy coffee every so often, go for it and indulge, but save the cup. You can rinse it out and use it for several other cups of tea and coffee before it needs to be recycled. Some coffee shops will give you a discount on your drink for bringing in a cup to reuse.

8. Go to the library instead of buying books.

Most people don’t reread the books they buy. Think about the books you have: Which ones are important enough to you to keep? Hang on to those and either pass on, sell or donate the others. A library card is free and anyone can get one. For people who prefer the feel of a real book in their hands over an e-reader, going to the library is a far more cost-effective option.

9. Reuse everyday items to get the most out of them.

Dryer sheets can be used twice before getting thrown out. Plastic shopping bags can be used for dirty cat litter. Tea bags can be used for more than one cup, and black tea can even be reused as relief on a sunburn. Plastic cups can be washed and used repeatedly. Be creative and use household things more than once to get the maximum use of of them before they get thrown away.

10. Avoid “fast fashion.”

The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world after oil and gas. Don’t contribute to this by buying the trendy new items come out several times a year and are popular for only a short time. A lot of these items are made from cheap material and produced with cheap labor, and end up not in secondhand shops but the landfill.

The 3 R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle) exist for a reason. Recycling is great and should be encouraged, but there are two steps that come before that. Think about your lifestyle and what products and items you can reduce using, like plastic water bottles and bags. What can you reuse?

Hopefully this has helped you with ideas to contribute to the sustainability of our environment as it's incredibly important. Implementing these ideas should also help you save a lot of money as well, so what do you have to lose?

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