By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
The climate clock in Manhattan’s Union Square recently revealed that there are only 7 years and 101 days until our planet reaches irreversible climate turmoil. If the world does not act now, we might witness our planet falling victim to extreme climate changes such as fires, heat waves, droughts, and famines. In order to help the environment and battle these destructive consequences, everyone must bring about small but meaningful changes to their lifestyle. This includes you.
If you’re eager to play a productive role in helping the environment and reduce your carbon footprint, here are eight sustainable things you can start with.
Statistically, people consume more electricity in winter than they do at other times of the year. When it’s cold outside, people naturally respond by turning on their heaters and electric blankets and take hotter and/or longer showers. This increased consumption requires a lot of electricity.
Unfortunately, producing electricity causes excessive amounts of greenhouse gases and chemical substances, which aren’t good for the environment. If you’re interested in reducing your dependency on electrical heating appliances, keep your energy consumption in mind this winter. Instead of turning your thermostat up, grab a sweater and a warm pair of socks. Conserving energy and protecting the environment is as easy as bundling up under multiple layers of clothing and turning your heat down for the season. This way, not only will you reduce your electricity bills, but you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint.
Investing in environment-friendly clothing brands is another eco-friendly technique to save the planet. Clothes made from synthetic fibers pollute the environment by releasing microplastics when washed, so wear clothes that are made from natural fibers rather than synthetic fibers whenever possible. If you do, you can regulate your plastic pollution while feeling comfortable at the same time. Investing in sustainable clothes also means supporting an organization that’s working toward greater ecological integrity and social justice. For example, you could consider getting some eco-friendly activewear for your winter workout attire.
Go the extra mile this winter by making sure to keep reusable bags with you wherever you go, whether you’re traveling or just stopping by the store. Studies show that countless whales, seals, turtles, and birds fall victim to plastic bag pollution every year. By using reusable bags, you will be doing your part in protecting the environment and the animals that live in it. You can also make a fun little DIY project of making your own reusable bags. Just get any old piece of fabric and make your own environment-friendly bag, or make it a big project with your family and friends all working together.
Here is an 8-minute Youtube video with an easy way to make reusable bags at home:
If you are wondering about long-term methods of helping the environment, you should consider insulating your house. Insulation is the key to keeping your home warm and reducing energy as the temperature becomes brisk. Your windows let cold air into your house, even when they’re shut, which results in high electricity bills. Hence, it is crucial to address and fix any entry points the cold air can creep through, which will keep your house warmer while also effectively lowering your bills. A well-insulated house is very energy efficient, and won’t need any additional heating or cooling systems, no matter what the season.
As it gets colder, the sun may not shine as bright as it did in the summer, but don’t waste the sunny hours you do get. Instead, try to warm up your home during the day by utilizing some good old-fashioned sunlight. Keep your drapes open and let the sun rays enter your abode during the daytime, then close the drapes at night. This protective layer will block the chilly cool air from entering your home while keeping the heat inside your apartment from escaping.
Another source of excess energy usage in winter is the water heater. While a hot bath or shower might seem like all you need to fight the cold winds, remember to remain conscious of your resource consumption. Consider switching to shorter showers, which will lead to lower water consumption and can also help lower energy wastage. The US Department Of Energy advises keeping your water heater setting to 120 degrees Fahrenheit rather than 140 degrees Fahrenheit to lower your energy usage.
The most common and cheap de-icing technique is to throw street salt on walkways, driveways, and sidewalks. While it may be convenient and affordable, some de-icers, such as calcium chloride and rock salt, pose a serious threat to the ecosystem. Switch to safer, natural alternatives such as sand, sawdust, cheese brine, pickle juice, potato juice, and sugar beet leftovers to prevent harmful repercussions. You could also consider shoveling snow from hard surfaces onto leveled areas before it hardens. This prevents pollutants from draining into the streams and riverbeds.
Although modern packaging is extremely convenient and allows you to enjoy your food on the go without fear of spilling, it has many hidden, dangerous consequences. This well-packed food is safe, reliable, shelf-stable, and clean, but its impact on the environment can be dire. For example, this packaging is often thrown away onto the streets and into rivers and oceans. In fact, the United Nations has declared the rising amount of plastic pollution a planetary crisis. Hence, instead of going for disposable single-use plastic water bottles, invest in reusable products like the Hydro Flask water bottle.
The methods detailed here may seem simple enough to implement, but the impact they can have on your lifestyle and the environment is thoroughly impressive. Your daily habits have long-term effects on the environment, both positive and negative, so embrace a mindset that promotes environmental wellness. Only by being in touch with nature and respecting your surroundings can you hope to save the planet from deterioration, and you can also encourage others to act and live in a more environmentally friendly manner.
Change isn’t instantaneous. It takes its due time, but the efforts of a single individual can make a huge difference in the long run. So start doing your part to help the environment this winter and begin your own change.