11 Ways To Be An Earth Activist At Home
Throughout this year we have seen some remarkable changes across the world, from thousands of turtles nesting on empty beaches to dolphins in Venice and a huge reduction in air pollution over major cities. It has never been clearer for us to see, that everything we do directly impacts our planet.
If you have been inspired by these positive events, then why not some spend time looking at how you can make an impact from your home. We have complied our top tips to reduce your environmental footprint and some of them will even save you money.
1. Conserve water and protect our waterways
Reducing your water usage is essential: There is only so much water on this earth, and we can’t make any more of it.
Did you know 96.5 percent of the water on earth is too salty for human consumption? Two thirds of the remaining fresh water are locked away in polar ice, glaciers, and permanent snow.
Melting it will not help, seeing as most of it will just end up as sea water. That is why it’s so important to cherish the water we have.
Here are a few ways to help conserve water and protect our waterways:
- Shut off the water. When you brush your teeth, be sure to shut off the water while you lather up. Do not leave it running: Only turn it on when it’s time to rinse your mouth out.
- Take shorter showers. A fun way to do this is by listening to a 5 to 10-minute song, then shut the shower off when it’s over.
- No unnecessary flushing. Do not flush things down the loo to dispose of them. One flush can use up to 5 or 7 gallons of water!
- Avoid dish/body soaps filled with toxins. Conventional dish and body soap contain ingredients that go down the drain and only further pollute our water supply.
- Fix taps. Sounds easy enough, but a leaking tap that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers!
- Opt for reusables. Lots of disposable items take gallons of water to make. For example, one roll of loo paper takes 37 gallons of water. A single disposable nappy takes 144 gallons of water. There are several other products, like paper plates, cups and towels, that gallons of water to make as well. That’s why switching to reusables will help you save water in the long run.
2. Replace traditional light bulbs with CFLs
CFLs, or Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs, are an inexpensive way to be eco-friendly. In fact, these bulbs can cut your energy use up to 66% compared to traditional light bulbs. This will not only reduce the cost of your electric bill but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the ozone layer.
“Air-drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon
footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year”
3. Reduce food waste
Food waste is a bigger problem than many people realize. In fact, nearly one-third of all food produced in the world is discarded or wasted for various reasons. That equates to nearly 1.3 billion tons every year.
Tossing edible food doesn’t just waste money. Discarded food is sent to landfills, where it rots and produces methane gas, which is the second most common greenhouse gas. In other words, throwing out your food contributes to climate change.
It wastes a huge amount of water, too. According to the World Resources Institute, 24% of all the water used for agriculture is lost through food waste every year. That’s 45 trillion gallons (about 170 trillion litres). So, what can you do?
- Save leftovers. Store leftovers in clear glass containers so you don’t forget about them and plan to use them the next day or designate a day of the week to use them up as part of another meal.
- Blend it up. While the stems, ends and peels may not see appetizing, adding them to a smoothie is a way to reap their many benefits. The stems of kale and chard as well as the tops of beetroots, strawberries and carrots are great to add to smoothies.
- Organise your fridge. Designate the top shelf of your fridge for all the things you need to use first. Put any half cut or partially used vegetables in a bowl so you are reminded to use those items first. This process helps to ensure that everything you buy is used before its end date.
- Make your own stock. Sauté vegetable scraps like the tops, stalks, peels and any other leftover bits with some olive oil or butter, then add water and let them simmer into an aromatic vegetable broth.
- Check your portion size. be more mindful of your portion sizes. Keeping them within a healthy range doesn’t just help your weight, it also reduces food waste. While you may not think twice about scraping the leftover food, remember it has a major impact on the environment.
4. Don’t Buy “Fast Fashion”
Many major clothing retailers practice what is known as “fast fashion” – selling an endless cycle of must-have trends at extremely low prices. Have you ever wondered how it is possible to pay only $4 for a t-shirt? In this consumer society, we think of fashion as disposable – after all, if I only pay $4 I might not think twice about throwing it away.
Heaps and heaps of clothing ends up in the landfill, often to justify buying the latest styles. We’re talking over 15 million tons of textile waste – with quantity over quality, fast fashion retailers can charge next to nothing for items that are mass-produced. They push these garments to sell by creating more fashion “cycles” or “seasons” – where there used to be 4 per year, there’s now often 12 to 15.
There’s also the issue of contamination: almost half of our clothing is made with cotton, and unless it’s labelled as “organic” cotton, there’s a high chance that it’s genetically modified cotton sprayed with lots of pesticides (including known carcinogens). This can be damaging to neighbouring non-GMO crops, cause water contamination, reduce biodiversity, and have negative impacts on human health.
Don’t forget that anything made overseas has a huge environmental impact – from the physical act of shipping a product across the ocean, to the chemical runoff from garment factories (leather tanneries are particularly bad). As if that’s not enough, fast fashion is an industry still largely propped up by child labor. Toxic to the environment, detrimental to human rights – who needs it? Try alternatives like re-purposing old clothing, choosing locally handmade garments, buying vintage, or participating in clothing swaps with family and friends.
5. Use indoor houseplants as decor
Plants are the best natural regulators of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is one of the major contributors to rising greenhouse gases. By keeping plants in your home, you are reducing your carbon footprint while also improving the air quality in your home. Plants will absorb carbon dioxide, as well as other harmful toxins and replace them with clean oxygen. Not only that but houseplants cost far less than most traditional decor items, like sculptures and wall fixtures, saving you money.
What are the best plants to have indoors?
Some of the best and cheapest plants you can get to reduce carbon monoxide include:
- Areca Palm
- Lady Palm
- Rubber Plant
- Boston Fern
- Peace Lily
6. Line Dry Your Clothes
Line drying laundry conserves energy and helps to protect the environment by saving precious fossil fuels. It is the pinnacle of green laundry and living!
There are more than 90 million clothes dryers in the United States alone, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Air-drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year. Experts determined that if all Americans line-dried clothing for just half of a year, it would save 3.3 percent of the country’s total residential output of carbon dioxide.
During the Spring, Summer and into Autumn, drying your laundry outside should be relatively easy. As you approach Winter the opportunities will be more infrequent, but remember, even a few short hours will make a difference to how your laundry smells and it will need far less time drying inside afterwards.
“To get a single pound of beef, it takes over 5,000 gallons of water – as the
number one consumer of freshwater in the world, animal agriculture is drastically
increasing the problem of water scarcity.”
7. Unplug Your Devices
You might be surprised to learn that all electronics suck energy when they are plugged in, EVEN IF they’re powered down. In the U.S. alone, “vampire power” is responsible for draining up to $19 billion in energy every year. Anytime a cord is plugged into a socket, it’s drawing energy – so although your device isn’t charging, you’re still contributing to your carbon footprint. Simple solution? Always leave your electronics unplugged, unless you’re actually using them.
8. Stop Eating (or Eat Less) Meat
The single most effective action you can take to combat climate change is to stop eating meat. Just limiting your meat consumption can make a huge difference. Greenhouse gas emissions from agribusiness are an even bigger problem than fossil fuels. So while we often talk about cutting our reliance on fossil fuels – and this is still critically important – we rarely discuss the worst culprit. Red meat is particularly to blame, consuming 11 times more water and producing 5 times more emissions than its poultry counterparts.
You don’t have to become a vegetarian but eating meat less frequently (the average American eats 8.5 ounces of meat per day!) will significantly help the environment. To get a single pound of beef, it takes over 5,000 gallons of water – as the number one consumer of freshwater in the world, animal agriculture is drastically increasing the problem of water scarcity. Don’t forget to inform others: many people simply don’t know about the connection between meat and climate change.
9. Switch to green energy
Green energy is energy we get from renewable sources that won’t run out, rather than non-renewable sources like oil or coal – which we can’t replenish once they’re gone. It’s called ‘green’ to show that it’s better for the environment; producing power from these sources cuts down the negative impact on the planet through a smaller carbon footprint.
There are quite a few renewable sources used to make green energy. Examples include wind power, solar power, hydroelectric power, wave power and biofuels. You can search for and switch to a green energy supplier online.
10. Heating conservation
Draughts waste a lot of energy by losing heat. One quick and relatively cheap win is to put a brush or seal on your doors to prevent air escaping round the edges. Letterboxes and keyholes also lose heat and can be covered too. Gaps in floorboards and skirting boards also let in draughts; you can fill in these gaps with newspaper, beading or sealant. Some other things you can do include:
- Sticking aluminium foil or reflective panels behind radiators. This reflects heat back into the room rather than being absorbed into walls.
- In winter close your curtains at night to stop heat escaping.
- Make sure your loft has loads of insulation. It’s one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save energy and will pay for itself in hardly any time.
- Turn your thermostat down to 18°C and put on an extra jumper.
If you have already been able tick off a few of these top tips, then fantastic and thank you so much!
Some things may take time to accomplish, others are small changes in our habits. Fixing a leaky tap or applying insulation to a door may only take 5-10 minutes, but add each of these thing together and not only will you reduce your environmental footprint, you will also save money by having a more energy efficient home.
11. Ride a bike
When you are out and about, riding a bike can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. While the typical passenger car releases about 404 grams of CO2 per mile, a bicycle emits zero. If you live in a bike friendly city or in an area with mild weather year-round, a bike is a worthwhile investment. Even if a bike cannot replace your car completely, for shorter trips it’s a great way to be gentle on the environment while saving petrol money and getting a cardio workout at the same time.
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