Green Week is about recognizing the impact we can have on the environment around us. Over the past 100 years humans have significantly changed the planet in many ways for the worse, and if this trend continues future generations will not be able to experience the same Earth we’ve come to know so well. Advancements in technique and technology are slowly improving conditions and lowering environmental impact – we’re beginning to develop and really look into alternative means of power, transportation, and agriculture. But these are on the largest scale; what can you, as an individual, do to save our planet and lessen your own carbon footprint? Going green means to fully embrace an alternative lifestyle where you make smarter decisions about the food you buy, the companies you support, and even the car you drive. Below we’ll go over some simple tips to help jumpstart your transition.
Chances are you’ve been hearing this 3-step process since you were a kid: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce – Monitor how much trash you and your family create in one week – most people don’t realize how much sheer volume they’re capable of producing. In whatever way you can, try reducing the amount of trash you throw out. That could mean buying in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging you have to throw away, or simply being more careful with what you place in the garbage.
Reuse – Being able to find new uses for things is important if you want to be able to reuse certain items after their initial life. Re-purposing junk items can greatly reduce the overall volume of waste.
Recycle – Some things simply cannot be reused. This means that for plastics and other materials that are very difficult for the environment to break down naturally need to be recycled properly. Beverage containers especially are used in just about everything you can imagine after their first life.
There are so many different and creative ways we can reduce the amount of water we use on a daily basis, in our bathrooms and kitchens especially. Read through a few of these and see if you’re able to adapt a few of them to your daily routine.
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily.
- Test for a leaking toilet by adding food coloring to the tank (not the bowl). Without flushing, note if any color appears in the bowl after 30 minutes.
- Install a low-flow toilet.
- Use a low-flow showerhead.
- Install aerators on faucets.
- Don’t let the water run when washing, brushing and shaving. Turn it on and off as needed.
- Take showers instead of baths. A ten minute shower with a low-flow showerhead uses half the water of a regular bath.
- If your shower takes a while to heat up, and you have to let the water run, put buckets in the shower to capture the water for watering plants, washing vegetables, water for pets or washing your car and bike.
- If you are designing your own bathroom, think about putting in the Japanese style of tub that is deeper but more compact – water cools more slowly requiring less input of heated water.
- Get a small sand timer that lasts about 3 minutes and bring it in the shower. Most people can have a shower in six minutes.
- Look into devices that divert water into a bucket from the shower while the water is warming up via a hose.
- Repair dripping faucets or toilets, which use enormous amounts of water.
These focus mainly on saving water in the bathroom. Interested in saving water in the kitchen? Read more of National Wildlife Federation’s tips here.
Supporting local organic farmers is a great way to indirectly reduce the amount of nitrates, pesticides, and fertilizers that seep into our soils. According to this article in the NYTimes, fertilizers used in crop production doubled the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil over the past century alone. This extends to individual gardeners as well. If you or someone you know tends to their own gardens during the growing season, think twice about what you’re putting in the soil. Many of the negative effects associated with harmful chemicals go unseen until it’s too late.
To see how Dr. Willard’s is helping local farmers and gardeners reduce their environmental impact, read our blog from earlier this week.
Green Week isn’t an observation meant to be recognized merely for one week – it’s an issue that needs attention all year round. By reading this we hope that you’ll be more aware of your potential to affect the land around you, and in doing so you’ll make smarter, more earth-friendly decisions in the future. We can all do our part.