I haven’t posted much in the Sustain realm yet. I think I’m a little self conscious about it- I don’t want to be this annoying green hippie who shoves climate change down people’s throats. But after the 2016 election, I know there is very serious threat to our environment (even more than before). So I think I’m just going to get really annoying about it.
Climate change is real. Global warming is happening. I don’t feel like I need to prove this to anyone, but maybe you need some more convincing. I’m not going to do that right now, but there is tons of research out there for you to read!
Buuuuuut. There are seriously going to be some INSANE consequences if we don’t act now, ya know? Whether you believe it or not. It’s easy not to care, but I’ll be here in case you do, to make some suggestions about what you can do to help. You don’t have to change your life completely. There are some really small, simple behavior changes that can easily become habits and cause some serious positive change. I’ll list some now.
1. Stop using so many plastic bags
You probably have a huge stack of plastic bags in your home. You probably don’t need all those bags. So just bring reusable bags to the store! Great for grocery shopping (they hold more stuff and they don’t break), but I also find myself using them while shopping elsewhere: at thrift stores, Target, wherever. Tons of places already have bans or fees on plastic bags, so you might as well get used to it now!
2. Ride a bike or walk
Easier for the average college student then someone getting dressed up for work everyday, I know. But if you aren’t traveling that far, it might be a great option. Maybe try it out one day a week, or ride a bike to run a local errand a few times a week. You can get some exercise in while cutting down on carbon emissions.
Ok this is a risky one, but I can recommend this with a little more confidence now that I’ve signed up and started composting here in Colorado. It seems hard to do yourself without a home and a serious commitment to it, but most areas have drop off/pick up composting services (Philly peeps – check out Bennett!). My town has a neat composting service where they give you a composting box and you can drop off your food scraps whenever you want, for free! And it’s just so important. Food waste accounts for over 20% of landfills and 40% of food is wasted in the United States. It’s just really, really important to try to divert your food waste.
4. Reusable water bottles/coffee mugs
Pretty similar to #1, but pleeeease just bring your own, PLEASE! I can say with 100% certainty that I haven’t used a plastic water bottle since maybe freshman year of college. If I ever buy a juice, I typically wash the bottle and reuse it, too.
Guys. Water is free. In restaurants, airports, malls, workplaces… just about wherever you are. When you buy a water bottle, you’re buying PLASTIC! You’re paying for plastic!!! That’s it!!!!! A reusable water bottle will save you so much money and so much stupid plastic. Coffee mugs don’t have as much of a magical power, but just about everywhere you go and present a reusable mug for your coffee, you will get a discount. Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, even local shops usually. And baristas think you’re cool when you have one (I think).
5. Donate / Offset
It just so happens to be Giving Tuesday!!!!!! I know it’s hard to just give money to a place and hope they use it well, so I’m sharing the places I trust. These are organizations I’ve followed for years and know they are doing good work, and donated to as soon as I learned that DJT wants a complete psycho running the EPA.
- National Forest Foundation – www.nationalforests.org/donate/give
- NRDC – www.nrdc.org
- Nature Conservancy – www.nature.org
- If you don’t want to donate to these big organizations – feel free to donate to Natural Capitalism Solutions, a local environmental non profit I intern for!
If you can’t think of something to get your mom, younger brother, or conservative godfather for Christmas this year – consider donating to an environmental nonprofit in their name. Nothing shows love better than keeping the air they breathe healthy!
And a great idea is offsetting your travels (which is something I do to feel less guilty about wasteful roadtrips and plane rides). There’s an easy solution: calculate and offset your miles at www.thegoodtraveler.org!
6. Don’t wash your sheets
Be like me and completely forgo the activity of washing your sheets! Save water and avoid the insanely infuriating task of getting a fitted sheet around your mattress.
Just kidding (kinda…), but if you aren’t washing your sheets and clothes in cold water, switch the washer over to that setting ASAP. It’s been proven that hot water doesn’t make your clothes cleaner, and you could save energy and money by going cold.
7. Stay informed
I’m aware of how overwhelming it can feel when everything seems to be going to shit but you can’t figure out what in god’s name you should be doing to help. But the more you learn, the more you can feel in control. I’ve watched a bunch of documentaries in addition to reading environmental books, taken classes, etc… A few ones that helped me learn are: Gasland, Cowspiracy (personal fave), Tapped, Growing Cities, Food Inc., The Story of Stuff… the list goes on.
Another great resource is www.350.org. They help with highlighting important campaigns and showing you ways to get involved in your area. The more you know, the more you can help!
That’s it! This is just a start, but easy things I’ve found can easily become a habit after a few times. This post might not do anything, but maybe one or two of you will read it and consider making some positive environmental changes. And for that, Madre Earth and I thank you.