Our environment is in a severe crisis that many Americans are unaware of! Droughts are destroying our food system, hurricanes are becoming larger and more numerous, and peak oil consequences are on the horizon. But if you are like me, you also see that there is hope in the world.
More people are beginning to take personal responsibility for reducing their carbon footprint, creating a local, sustainable environment, and conserving energy and resources so that future generations will be able to enjoy at least some of the modern conveniences. We have all come to take for granted.
Do you care about the earth but don’t know how to make a difference? Do you want to change something but don’t know where to start? Small steps can lead to a significant change in the grand scheme of things. The following five small changes can make a massive difference in the world, even if most of it is invisible to you and me.
1. Put a brick in your toilet:
Seriously. I mean, not in the pot, but when you open the rear tank lid, there should be enough room to put at least a brick of some size at the bottom. Just as Archimedes shouted “Eureka!” so will you when you realize how much water you are saving (and therefore lowering your water bill). Modern toilets try to use much less water when flushing away our waste. Older toilets, however, don’t use as much. Both use more than you need. You may have to clean a little more often, but that brings us to the next step:
2. Trade in your chemical cleaners for green ones:
And by trade-in, I mean deposit at your local hazardous waste facility. The price of organic or eco-friendly soaps is very similar to conventional cleaners, if not lower in some cases. They clean just as well. You don’t get the nasty chemical smell in your house. You can’t make bombs out of them. And last year, a company (7th Generation Inc) reported that by buying organic, they saved in one year:
1,219,000 gallons of petroleum
77,000 mature trees
28,000,000 gallons of water (!)
203,000 cubic yards of landfill
35,000 pounds of chlorine prevented from entering the environment
And that’s just one company!
3. Go vegetarian one day a week:
Americans consume an average of 250 pounds of meat per year. If the average American weighs 250 pounds, that’s the same as eating yourself! I don’t think that’s true, but either way, that’s a lot of meat. Probably too much meat. It’s way too much compared to the amount of meat our ancestors ate. This contributes to our obesity and disease epidemics. But, again, there are multiple layers of benefits to this.
It turns out that many large food chains [end up] paying Brazilians to cut down the rainforest and instead plant grass to feed livestock, thus lowering the price of meat. However, the rainforest helps regulate the earth’s weather cycles and patterns and produces at least 20% of the available oxygen! Moreover, the amount we lose at the rate we contribute to greenhouse gases equal to all the planes, trains and cars on the planet!
4. Take a timer in the shower:
A 5-10 minute shower can help conserve this precious resource. Actually, “precious resource” sounds more like gold or Wolverine’s adamantium. Water is more than a resource. Water is life. And less than 1% of everything on the planet is available for daily use. Pollution and waste only reduce that small number.
You can take a timer into the shower to help you keep track of your usage (or a watch, a sundial, or whatever you like to keep track of time). Start with 10 minutes, then go to 5. I like to go a few days without, then take a longer one.
Going shopping? Bring your bag. Here’s why:
Among many other facts about littler, did you know that TWO areas are Texas’s size, each just floating around in the Pacific Ocean made up almost entirely of plastic waste? If we start bringing our bags, we can help stop contributing to the Texas analogy. To learn more, search the web and see what the pictures look like. It’s insane!
If you can start with these five steps, you’ll be on your way to saving the planet, one small step at a time!