Friday is Earth Day. You can start making small changes today to improve your future and the future of our world!
Any improvement, big or small, can lead to positive change. Simple lifestyle shifts that can be adopted over time are all that is needed for a sustainable future.
You may think 'but I'm just one person,' however, if each of us takes steps to live more sustainably, collectively we will make a difference. “You have to hold yourself accountable for your actions, and that’s how we’re going to protect the Earth.” – Julia Butterfly Hill
Here are some tips to get you started:
Seek out the energy vampires in your home and use smart power strips that shut off the power to your electronics when you’re not using them. Energy vampires are appliances or other plugged-in devices that draw energy when they are plugged in but not in use. For example, coffee makers, charging devices, printers, and electric toothbrushes. For a full list of potential energy suckers, click here.
Get an energy audit done on your home to determine where energy and money can be saved. Energy audits tell you how much energy your home is losing and provide cost-efficient, sustainable solutions. Other benefits include reducing environmental damage and pollution, lowering energy bills, and extending the lifespan of your current energy systems.
Replace old windows that are less efficient at keeping inside air from escaping. Not only are new windows more energy-efficient, but they can also help reduce noise pollution. Because windows can be a major expense, try replacing just a few at a time, or simply manage the gaps in between windows and doors with caulk and weather stripping to help prevent energy loss.
Switch to reusable water bottles. Americans use an average of 50 billion plastic water bottles a year. Even though recycling efforts have increased, National Geographic reports, “a whopping 91% of plastic isn't recycled.” While drinking water throughout the day is obviously a healthy habit, using disposable plastic bottles is not sustainable.
Compost food scraps. When placed into plastic bags, food waste cannot decompose. To start composting, all you need is a container to place food scraps in during the week and a composting area outside for excess food scraps when the bin fills up. When you’re ready to toss your scraps, you can either compost right in the ground or invest in a composting container.
Adopt zero waste food shopping. Reduce food-related waste by using your own reusable containers, purchasing items in bulk, and saying no to individually wrapped items. Also, opt for purchasing tin cans or paper-wrapped items rather than items with plastic packaging. Take small steps by bringing your own reusable grocery bags and your own mesh produce bags to cut down on plastic bags.
Engage in eco-friendly hygiene. Did you know a single plastic toothbrush takes over 400 years to decompose? Over a billion toothbrushes end up in landfills every year in North America. Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative: They are 100% biodegradable and antimicrobial–which means they don’t harbor nasty bacteria. You can also swap your single-use swabs and cotton pads for reusable eco-friendly swabs that are washable.
Support local ecology in your garden. To save the ecosystems in your area, the answer is simple: grow native plants! Look into the native wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and vines suitable to your environment, and don’t forget to plant plenty of pollinating species to help the bees, butterflies, and other insects.
Don't overwhelm yourself by trying too many new things at once. Commit to a few changes a week, and sustainability will be a habit before you know it. Together we can make a difference!