Here are five ways to help the environment. By focusing on these areas you can have a more positive impact on the planet:
#1. Your Daily Commute & Travel
Reducing the amount of carbon emissions you produce traveling from one place to another can substantially help the environment. Bike, walk, run, carpool, use public transit; there are plenty of alternative ways to get around in your daily life.
You don’t have to give up driving altogether, but considerably reducing the frequency with which you drive, particularly as a single occupant vehicle will help lessen the impact emissions have on the environment.
Here are some nice graphs to help illustrate some of the various types of emissions produced during commuting. You may want to pay particularly close attention to those two columns, ahem, on the far right, which they graciously included.
#2. Reduce Your Use of Plastic
Plastic is a major cause of ocean pollution. The number one thing you can do to help is to use less plastic. When possible, avoid bottled water.
Bring your own water with you if you are planning to be out all day, especially if you will be outside and exercising. It’s important to stay hydrated, but plan in advance so you won’t need to buy water later.
For your household water usage, find somewhere you can refill water jugs or invest in a quality water filter.
5 Ways You Can Minimize Plastic Waste
* Make a conscious effort to avoid plastic bags and unnecessary packaging of food and other products.
*Wash and reuse plastic bags that you already have, and focus on using reusable bags, or going bag-free, as often as possible.
*Take your own reusable container and/or bag if you’re going to a take-out restaurant.
*Recycle. Take your recyclables to the depot, and make sure you do all you can to ensure that they are actually recycled.
*And for goodness sake, don’t litter! Leaving plastic bags, containers or other packaging around can be a serious threat to wildlife and our waterways and oceans. So, pick it up, and take it home or make sure it gets recycled properly.
Learn more about plastic and the PlasticPollutionCoalition, along with 22 Facts About Plastic Pollution (And 10 Things We Can Do About It) from EcoWatch. For some more tips, here are 16 Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste from Mother Nature Network.
#3. Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Reducing the amount of carbon emissions produced during travel is a great start, but what you eat can actually have a more significant impact on the planet. Changing what you eat is one of the most effective ways to help the environment.
Following a plant-based diet considerably reduces the amount of water and greenhouse gas emissions required to produce your food. The more whole food, plant-based the better, for your health and the environment, but regardless, a plant-based diet is definitely the way to go!
Meat and dairy are some of the most water demanding crops, with animal feed taking top spot. Whereas legumes/pulses and nuts (some of the most water demanding plant-based crops), require only a fraction in comparison to animal agriculture. Here are some nice info-graphics to demonstrate this:
Note: This graph represents California’s crop water use, but it does illustrate the water intensity of the crops. It’s difficult to read most of it, but rather irrelevant when compared to animal feed (alfalfa and forages).
Note: Look at poor little vegetables and fruits, way up there at the top. And, do bare in mind that all products that come from animals, including milk, will also require animal feed in order to get to the store shelf.
In an article by Laura Reynolds from the Worldwatch Institute, the author states, “One obvious way to reduce agricultural emissions is for people to minimize their consumption of meat and dairy products.” So, why not take the “obvious” path and stick with plant-based foods, maximizing your positive impact on the environment.
For more information about methane emissions, water usage and other environmental impacts of animal agriculture visit Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
Read a film review of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.
#4. Live a Vegan Lifestyle
A plant-based diet is an excellent step, but taking that even further and living a vegan lifestyle can help the environment even more.
Leather, in particular, is not only cruel to the lives it takes, but it is also produced in an extremely water-intensive manner that involves many chemicals before it gets to the final product. The process of making and dying leather, wool and fur products is quite toxic not only to the workers, but also to the environment, including the water supply. These industries are cruel to humans, non-human animals and the planet alike.
Although vegan leathers are less cruel, many brands still involve synthetic materials and chemicals, so you may want to look into more natural, eco-friendly brands, such as Freedom of Animals, if you’re keen on leather.
Still need help finding the inspiration to go vegan? You may want to take this couple’s example, showing us just what people can achieve if they set their mind and heart to it. Let compassion lead the way. In Texas, a couple gives up their fourth-generation cattle farm for a more vegan approach to living with cows.
#5. Compost Your Food Scraps
Once you’re following a plant-based diet, you’ll need to do something with all of that plant refuse. Finding somewhere to compost, possibly you have green waste pick-up in your area, or learning some basic vegan composting will help produce rich soil to grow more plants.
Maybe partner up with some neighbours in your community to start a composting system, or look into getting your apartment complex involved in green waste. Be proactive, so that when possible you can compost all that plant matter, rather than sending it to the landfill where it won’t do much good at all.
Learn more about veganic gardening and other eco-conscious gardening methods from the Veganic Agriculture Network.
And to finish off, here’s an entertaining article about The Carbon Footprint of Daily Activities to leave you with. You don’t need to be perfect, but doing the best you can does make a difference. Every little bit counts.
These are just some of the ways to help the environment!
Read about environmental documentaries:
Find more Environment Resources.
And follow the on-going Q&A series of Active Outdoor Vegans including Competitive Stand Up Paddler John Merryfield from Vegan 1 Day!