Raise your hand if you sometimes feel overwhelmed by climate change, sustainability, and the future of our planet?! I bet most of you are in the same boat as me: wanting to make a difference but often confused by conflicting statistics and information overload. Keep reading if you want to learn 6 easy ways you can reduce your impact on the planet, starting right now!
6 Easy Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Impact on the Planet
In collaboration with COIN
1. Cut Down On Waste
One of the simplest ways you can reduce your impact on the planet is by cutting down on waste. It’s quite shocking how much trash the average person discards every day. A study conducted by Columbia University estimated that American’s throw out 7 pounds of materials per person every single day – totaling 2,555 pounds per person every year!
Earth is becoming overrun with trash and we are getting frequent reports that our oceans are filling up with plastic… it’s obvious things need to change. The good news is that a large amount of our individual waste can easily be prevented by implementing some super easy changes!
Such a large part of our daily garbage comes in the form of extra packaging, about 30% reportedly. This packaging is usually thrown out after one use and it avoidable in many situations. Cutting down on your use of extra packaging is one of the simplest ways to reduce your overall waste. Here are some easy ways you can do it:
- Say no to plastic (or paper) bags if you don’t need them. It’s SO easy to take along your own reusable bags when shopping. Keep some spares in your car or handbag so you never forget.
- Similar to above, request your food take-out order to be provided without the additional plastic carry bag and minus any single-use cutlery.
- Avoid using plastic straws and instead go without or invest in some reusable straws.
- Purchase a reusable cutlery set and bring them along with you when eating out or traveling. You will often have to request that plastic cutlery isn’t automatically given to you when you place your order.
- Invest in a reusable coffee cup and drink bottle. Purchase a water filter or bulk filtered water if your area’s water quality is lacking.
- Use lightweight mesh produce bags instead of the single-use plastic ones at the grocery store. They are easy to buy online, they last a long time (I have had the same bags for 5 years now), and they are accepted at any grocery store.
- Buy some reusable containers to store leftover food at home instead of using large amounts of plastic-wrap and foil.
There are many more ways to cut down on your daily waste but I think the ones listed above are easy things EVERYONE can implement into their daily lives.
In addition to this, I think it goes without saying that we should all be recycling any waste the best that we can in our local communities.
2. Support Sustainable Companies
Another easy thing you can do reduce your impact on the planet is to use and support sustainable companies. What I mean by “sustainable companies” is businesses that have minimal negative impact on the planet, at a global and local level.
By definition, these companies are generally greener than their traditional competition, supply an environmentally friendly product/service, and have made a commitment to environmental principles in their business operations.
One way you can support sustainable companies is to research brands before buying from them, to ensure they are doing their part and deserve your business. This information is becoming more and more accessible to consumers when it comes to things like the fashion and cosmetics/personal hygiene industries. Some websites that can help you with this research, including Ethical Consumer, Good Guide, and Rank a Brand.
Another great way you can support sustainable businesses is to quite literally invest your money in them in the form of shares. I was recently introduced to the investing platform COIN and love their mission to empower everyday people like you and me to make a difference with our money.
How it works is that COIN allows you to consciously invest in businesses that are doing good in the world based on 8 impact areas: climate action, clean water, better health, reduce waste, quality work, modern cities, shared prosperity, and gender equality. You begin by choosing the three impact areas that you care most about then COIN’s automated investment platform creates a diversified portfolio based on your selections.
COIN has kindly offered my readers a promo code: use COIN2019 to receive $50 when you invest your first $100 at www.investwithcoin.com.
3. Limit Your Meat Intake
Limiting how much meat (and dairy) you consume is another major thing you can do to reduce your impact on the planet. The livestock sector produces as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks and automobiles combined. In addition, millions of square miles of forests have been and continue to be destroyed for grazing pastures.
You don’t have to become a strict vegetarian or vegan to play your part in this! According to Green Peace, switching even part of your diet to be more plant based is essential to combating climate change, soil, air and water pollution, ocean dead zones, and myriad other problems caused by industrial livestock production.
If everyone transitioned to eating fewer meals with meat or dairy each week then we would collectively make a huge difference for the health of our planet.
In need of some meal inspiration? Pinterest is an amazing source for finding delicious recipes!
4. Reduce Energy and Water Use
There are some really simple things you can do to cut down on your energy and water use, which will in turn reduce your impact on the planet (and save you money!) It may take a little while to change old habits if you have say always taken really long showers and typically leave every light on in the house… BUT it’s doable over time and it’s important we all start being better at these easy changes:
- Turn appliances off when you’re not using them. Simple right? It blows my mind how many people leave the TV running all day or fail to switch their computer off overnight.
- Take it to the next level and unplug devices that aren’t being used. did you know 75% of your household energy use if caused by electronics that are turned off? Crazy right?! Energy saving “smart power strips” can also be used to combat this problem.
- Get into the habit of turning lights off as you leave a room and invest in energy efficient light bulbs.
- Take shorter showers and turn off the water when you shave. You can also use a “shower bucket” to catch water for use in the garden or to wash your car.
- Turn off the faucet when washing/shaving your face and brushing your teeth. This is one of the simplest changes you can make and it will save SO much water over time!
- Hang your laundry to dry instead of using energy-draining dryers. This is particularly easy to do during the summer months.
- Switch off your dishwasher’s “heat dry” mode. I find that simply opening the dishwasher door and letting everything air dry works just fine and saves a lot of energy.
- Use the cold water setting for washing laundry. This can reportedly cut your washer’s energy consumption by 90% if you switch from using the hot water setting.
5. Offset Your Carbon Emissions
It can get confusing understanding what offsetting your carbon emissions actually means and if it makes a difference. In a nut shell, we all consume energy and produce carbon emissions in our everyday lives (driving, flying, using appliances, heating your home etc.) Carbon offsetting is a means to compensate for your emissions by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere.
Carbon offsetting is not a replacement for implementing everyday sustainable practices but it can help reduce your impact on the planet for carbon emissions you cannot necessarily cut out. A big one for me if the flights I take each year for work but for some people it may be their daily commute or the emissions produced by their small business.
There are numerous organizations that accept carbon offset donations and fund climate protection projects. My Climate, Gold Standard and Carbon Fund are non-profit carbon offset organizations that I have found to be easy to use and are doing a lot of good in the world.
6. Re-purpose, Recycle, and Borrow
This isn’t the point in the blog post where I tell you to become a minimalist, get rid of all your possessions, and never buy anything else ever again. Buying and acquiring things is an essential part of everyday life… it’s how we eat, clothe ourselves, maintain adequate personal hygiene, drive to work, consume most forms of entertainment, etc. I am simply reminding you that we all have a choice about how and what we acquire into our lives.
An easy way you can reduce your impact on the planet is to re-purpose, recycle, and borrow items before purchasing something new. Can an old shoe box be used for that sock organization project instead of a brand new plastic container? Can a family member or friend lend you some insulated pants for that trip to the snow you take once every 5 years? You get the idea!
I hope you found some useful tips for easy ways you can reduce your impact on the planet. I would love for you to share your own advice in the comment section below! We are all on the same learning path when it comes to living more sustainably, so let’s help each other out!
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Disclaimer: A massive thank you to COIN for sponsoring this blog post. Promo COIN2019 stipulates that users must keep the $100 invested for at least 3 months to receive $50.