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Large corporations are responsible for a significant amount of environmental damage and pollution, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take some responsibility at an individual level, too. For some people, this means conserving energy at home or helping with oceanside cleanups. For others, it’s even smaller, simpler ways to help the environment by switching a few of our daily habits each day.
To that end, here are three sustainable actions that anyone can introduce into their daily life!
#1 Alternate Modes of Transportation
America seems to love cars. They’re a huge part of our country’s infrastructure (literally). But fuel-powered vehicles produce a lot of pollution. You can begin to reduce your carbon footprint by changing the way you get around:
- Hybrid or electric vehicles – Vehicles that run either entirely or partially on electricity are not contributing to our collective carbon footprint in the same way. Of course, these expensive vehicles are not within everyone’s means, but they’re certainly an investment in the future (both for the climate and your monthly gas expenses).
- Carpooling – Gas-powered vehicles may not be the most environmentally-friendly, but one car on the road is better than two. If everyone carpooled with at least one other person, our daily carbon emissions would be virtually cut in half (or more).
- Cycling – If you work or go to school nearby, hop on your commuter bike instead. You’ll be helping the environment while kick-starting the day with valuable exercise and fresh air—a win-win!
- Public transit – This is yet another way to get cars off the road while still getting where you need to go. Some cities have better transit systems than others, so this may not be a feasible option depending on where you live.
#2 Reusable Instead of Disposable Items
The first “R” of sustainability is reduce, but some things can’t be cut out of our lives—they’re daily necessities. So, let’s move on to the second “R”: reuse.
Here are a few long-lasting purchases that go the extra mile:
- Toothbrush & toothpaste – Brushing your teeth is a daily occurrence (we can only hope) that adds up over time. Consider investing in a biodegradable Bamboo toothbrush or an eco-friendly electric toothbrush with reusable brush heads.
- Tumblers – A reusable drink cup is another easy thing we can implement into our daily lives, whether you’re brewing coffee at home or stopping in at Starbucks on the way to work. There are plenty of companies that make various tumbler sizes in lots of fun colors, so you can help save the planet without sacrificing style.
- Shopping bags – Paying 10 cents for a disposable shopping bag at the grocery store is no big deal, but the number of plastic bags that end up in the landfill every year is a big issue. Nowadays, you can find reusable bags that fold up into tiny, purse-sized pouches.
This list is only the tip of the iceberg (the same iceberg that we’re actively trying to preserve). If you look hard enough, there are reusable versions for most everyday items. Reduce by reuse is one the ways to help the environment which can make a big impact on the amount of waste produced each day.
#3 Reduced Meat Consumption
If you’ve been eating meat for the better part of your life, this can seem like a difficult and monumental pivot. But the current livestock farming industry is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases and the overall changes in the climate. Thus, reducing meat consumption includes some big ways to help the environment.
Here are a few ways to ease yourself into a more vegetarian (or even vegan) lifestyle:
- Create a schedule – Make a promise to yourself and stick with it. For example, commit to at least one vegan meal a week, and three or four vegetarian meals. Sticking to a routine, like “No Meat Mondays” or “Veggie Weekends,” can relieve the pressure to change everything all at once.
- No meat for one whole month – Alternatively, quitting cold turkey (no pun intended) might be the right move for you. It seems hard at first, but by the end of the month, you’ll likely realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be. You can then reintroduce the meats and meals you missed the most, but hopefully not to the same degree.
- Get creative with cooking – If you’re a big foodie, making brand-new vegetarian or vegan meals can be an exciting challenge. There are a lot of tasty meat alternatives out there—plus we could all probably benefit from a few extra vegetables in our diet.
Contribute in the Ways You Can
These might seem like big lifestyle changes, but you don’t have to give up everything all at once. Finding ways to help the environment which fit easily into your routine.
If driving cars is one of your main hobbies, then keep doing it. If bacon is your all-time favorite food, don’t deprive yourself of that joy. But do you always need chicken in your pasta dishes? Could you hold onto that cup a little longer to put it in the recycling rather than garbage? How about buying secondhand clothes, or reusable on-the-go cups, water bottles, and utensils?
It’s important to pick your battles and start small if you need to. Everyone can take steps towards living sustainably, even beginners.
After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day—a more sustainable future won’t be either.