These days, it’s easy to get discouraged about what we can do to help the earth. Sometimes it seems like our efforts are so minuscule that they don’t actually do much to help the overall wellbeing of our planet. Like, does bringing my reusable bag to Trader Joe’s really help the world? I’m only one person.
The short answer is YES, but we’ve got a little more to say about that because you are seriously underestimating how much you matter and how much of an impact you, as an individual, can truly make.
Get this: you’re chilling at a coffee shop and decide to treat yourself to a nice large, refreshing cold brew. They offer you a straw. You’re thinking, “It’s just one straw. It won’t make that much of an impact if I use it.”
Now imagine 450 million other people doing the same thing and taking the damn straw. Four hundred and fifty MILLION people drink coffee every day in the U.S. alone. If each individual person said, “Nah, I don’t really need a straw this time,” then boom, that’s 450 million plastic straws (that won’t decompose for 200 years!) saved from the ocean in just one day. Crazy, right?
Listen, we’re not here to judge. We get that everyone can’t do everything, and that’s perfectly okay. If you do decide to use that straw, how about take a shorter shower that night, instead? It will make an impact.
Helping the planet doesn’t require a major lifestyle change. Chances are not everyone in the world is going to be 100% vegan or compost every day, but everyone can make small changes and steps to protect our planet every day. As the saying goes, we don’t need a few people being perfectly sustainable, we need millions of people being imperfectly so (or something like that).
Here are some simple changes you can try to incorporate into your lifestyle. Whether you decide to make one change or all the changes is totally up to you, but do know that every little thing does truly help.
- Switch to LED bulbs. They last longer so there’s less material wasted, and it saves you money. Also, they’re 90% more efficient than incandescent light bulbs.
- Throw on a hoodie and fuzzy socks instead of cranking up the heat.
- Pull open your curtains and get that sunshine. No need to turn on the lights, just yet!
- Skip the dryer and hang your clothes. It’ll also lengthen the life of your clothing!
- Oh, and while you’re at it, try washing your clothes in cold water. Hot water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes.
- Shorten your shower, just a little bit (pro tip: set a timer for 10 mins). You can have your life-contemplating moments during your skincare routine.
- Work off that family size bag of Doritos (um, same) and take the stairs!
- Keep a foldable reusable grocery bag on you at all times, so you never have to worry about remembering to grab it for those impromptu Whole Foods runs.
- Switch off your work laptop before you head out for the day. See: vampire power.
- Get some reusable cotton pads for your routine. Or better yet, skip that altogether and use your hands to apply toner, and such.
- Switch your browser to Ecosia. Every time you search the web, they plant a tree.
- Take advantage of your local library instead of buying physical books. Or try out e-books.
- Participate in #MeatlessMonday and skip the burger one day a week. The livestock sector (raising cows, pigs, and chickens) generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks, and automobiles combined.
- Carry around a reusable straw with you. Or maybe a few to hand out to friends, family, the cute guy behind you in line at Starbucks.
- Skip the Uber and take public transportation. It’s cheaper, too.
- Use menstrual cups instead of tampons. You’ll reduce a ton of waste and save some money in the long run.