Global warming is clearly one of the most urgent issues facing the world today which is why we should all want to do something about it. We are often told that in order to save our planet everyone needs to take drastic measures to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, reduce our carbon footprint, and live more sustainably. However, it is not always clear what that entails and making dramatic changes to our lifestyles is not feasible for the vast majority of us who have school, work, families, and other responsibilities to worry about. Luckily, there are a lot of small changes that anyone can easily make to their everyday routine that can have significant positive impacts on the environment.
Here is a list of ten small changes that you can implement to live more sustainably and make a positive difference for your community and the planet!
1. Switch it off
Simply turning off lights and other electronic devices when you are not using them is one of the easiest and most eco-friendly habits that you can develop. Using less electricity not only reduces your carbon footprint, since many electrical plants use fossil fuels to produce electricity, but it is also much more economical. If you are having trouble remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room, try putting post-it notes with little reminders near light switches to remind you and your friends and family.
2. Don’t waste food
It is estimated that 30-40% of our food supply in the United States is wasted every year. Not only does this result in a serious waste management problem but it also puts a tremendous strain on our water and land resources as farms are asked to produce more and more crops that are ultimately just wasted. Therefore, reducing your food waste is a great way to help us protect our natural resources. Some ways to reduce food waste include meal planning and only buying food that you know you will use. Reducing serving sizes is another way to reduce food waste and ensure that you are only getting as much as you can actually eat. Also, there is nothing wrong with leftovers. Rather than throwing away extra food, save it and eat it later. Not only does this help the environment but it is also a cheaper way to eat.
3. Eat less meat
Meat production is not the most efficient use of natural resources as raising livestock such as cows, pigs, and chickens uses up land, water, and crops. Reducing your meat intake is a good way to reduce your environmental impact. This does not mean that you need to dramatically change your diet. Instead, try out some vegetarian recipes and, rather than eating meat every day, have meat every other day or only on the weekends.
4. Cut out plastics
Cutting down your plastic use can be difficult, especially because everything we use seems to be either made of or packaged in some form of plastic. Luckily, there are some easy steps that you can take to reduce your plastic consumption. Try to refuse plastic packaging whenever possible. Investing in a reusable water bottle and reusable shopping bags can help you accomplish this since you won’t use plastic bags or plastic water bottles that eventually end up in our landfills or in the ocean. If you really want to go the extra mile, reusable straws and utensils are a handy way to cut down your environmental impact, especially when eating out.
5. Use eco-friendly products
Identifying eco-friendly products can be really difficult and confusing. However, there are many resources that you can use to make an informed decision about the products that you buy. One easy way to identify products that are environmentally friendly is to look for certifications such as “Fair Trade,” “non-GMO,” and organic on product packaging. Another way is to use sites like the Environmental Working Group which provide comprehensive information about the environmental impact of different products.
6. Use energy efficient appliances
Older appliances are generally less energy efficient than newer appliances. Therefore, a great way to reduce your environmental impact is to update to more energy-efficient appliances when your old ones can no longer be used. Using energy-efficient appliances more often is also beneficial. For example, did you know that your microwave is actually more environmentally friendly than your standard oven? A microwave is more energy-efficient and produces less air pollutants, so using your microwave when you cook rather than your oven is actually eco-friendly.
7. Buy locally
Shopping locally is a more environmentally friendly way to shop since local stores generally sell more locally sourced products. Locally-sourced products use less resources because they are not transported as far as imported goods. When possible, try to support your local shops and grocery stores. If your community has a farmers market, try buying your fresh produce from them rather than in a chain grocery store.
8. Conserve water
Fresh water is a precious resource that we all need to live and only about 0.4% of Earth’s water resources are usable for humans. As a result, it is important to conserve this resource no matter how abundant it may seem. Some easy ways to conserve water include taking shorter showers, turning off water faucets when you are not actively using them, and planting native or drought-resistant plants.
9. Use environmentally friendly transportation
Transportation is one of the biggest causes of global warming as it emits lots of greenhouse gases. Therefore, transitioning to environmentally friendly means of transportation is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Walking, biking, skateboarding, or riding electric scooters are all very eco-friendly means of transportation. If these options are not available to you, using public transportation such as metros and buses rather than your own personal vehicle is a much more sustainable way to get around. Reducing the number of flights that you take a year and carpooling are other good ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
10. Look for opportunities to learn more about sustainable action
There is a lot of information out there about sustainable practices and as we continue to learn more about our impact on the environment the actions that we can take to be more sustainable expand and become more accessible. One of the best ways to have a positive impact on the environment is to engage with environmental issues and continue to educate yourself about sustainable practices. That way you will have the most accurate information and be able to more easily do your part to protect our planet!
AIFS Abroad is committed to being carbon neutral by 2025. To learn more about our Green Initiative, track our progress, and learn about additional resources, visit our Green Initiative website.