We all want a healthy and beautiful planet and even if it may seem hard or impossible- because of the big issues our planet is facing today- each of us can help it become a better place.
Doing something for the good of this planet is not necessarily a stressful or difficult task. Simple things are those that make a difference many times. As a prof I have made this list with no less than 100 things each of us can easily do from time to time or (much better) for the rest of our lives. The list includes lots of common sense things that certainly are not new to you, but at this point I would use a quote: “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” (Zig Ziglar).
Here they are:
1. Travel more by foot or bicycle – it’s a great way to keep your stay in good shape too.
2. Take the train instead of a plane or car – whenever possible. Trains are more energy-efficient per passenger mile than planes or cars. Also, carbon emissions from trains are less damaging to the environment than those of airplanes because they are not released directly into the upper atmosphere.
3. Simple car maintenance —such as regular oil changes and air-filter changes- will improve fuel economy and minimize emissions.
4. Keeping your tires properly inflated will reduce fuel consumption with at least 5%.
5. Use the air conditioner as rarely as you can when driving. If you drive with it turned on the fuel consumption will increase by 30 %; but if you keep the windows open the fuel consumption only increases by 5 %.
6. Don’t let your car warm up while stationary. It will consume up to 50 % more fuel.
7. Cut your carbon footprint with homemade biodiesel. The biodiesel is a non-toxic and biodegradable fuel that can be obtained from used cooking oil (through a single process you will help the planet twice).
8. Drive moderately.
9. Work from home. Try to negotiate with your employer to work from home several times a week/month.
10. Use the stairs instead of elevators. When possible, of course.
11. Plant trees (on your property, as a volunteer for an environmental organization etc). If every person on this planet planted a single tree, we would eradicate nearly 260 million tons of CO2 annually. So even if you plant a single tree by yourself in this life you can say you did your part.
Photo by USFS Region 5 /CC BY 2.0
12. Use cloth towel roll dispensers in the bathrooms and cloth napkins and towels in the kitchen.
13. Stop (or recycle) the junk mail. It’s been suggested that the junk mail received by residents of the United States in just one day could produce enough energy to heat a quarter of a million homes!
14. Use two-way or send-and-return envelopes.
15. Read several times a document before you print it.
16. Use both sides of a paper- for printing, making notes, drawing and so on.
17. Use inks with non-petroleum bases, such as soybeans or linseed – for printing
18. Use recycled paper or buy paper from companies with a stated commitment to environmental stewardship.
19. Buy tissue products with a high recycled content.
20. Look for tissue products which are not so bright. The whiter the product, the more likely it contains a high level of virgin fibers or that it was heavily bleached.
21. Buy wood products carrying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) lablel (which means they are produced with wood that came from a certified, well-managed forest).
22. Use matches instead of lighters. Lighters are made out of plastic andfilled with butane fuel, both petroleum products. When choosing matches pick cardboard over wood, because most cardboard matches are made from recycled paper.
23. Use e-mail instead of paper correspondence.
24. Recycle your ink and toner cartridges.
25. Use rechargeable batteries. Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium, which have become a major source of contamination in dumpsites. Every year over 15 billion batteries are produced and sold worldwide and most of them are disposable alkaline batteries.
26. Separate garbage – at home and if possible at work.
27. Don’t throw away things you don’t need anymore. Just donate it. You know how they say „one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’’.
28. Buy second hand things. You will be surprised to discover how many good (and cool) things you can find in these shops.
29. Buy reusable, repairable, rechargeable or refillable products (and use them for this purpose).
30. Buy only what you need.
31. Buy in bulk or products with little packaging. In most parts of the developed world, packaging constitutes as much as one-third of the non-industrial solid waste stream.
32. Avoid using any disposable products (unless they are made of materials that are renewable resources).
33. Diaper with a conscience. Disposable diapers take 500 years to decompose and the waste is simply incredible: over 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown in the trash every year only in America! You can choose cloth or a more environmentally-friendly disposable as an alternative.
34. Use reusable containers to store food- instead of aluminum foil and plastic wrap.
35. Use mugs or glasses instead of plastic cups.
36. Use a washable thermos bottle for carring drinks.
37. Use reusable shopping bags. About 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide each year.
38. Recycle the plastic bottles. There are lots of useful or creative things you can do with empty plastic bottles: from jewelry to various items for your garden and home. Check this and this for some inspiration.
39. Drink more tap water. It would be extremely beneficial to the planet to simply since nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled.
40. Recycle glass. A glass bottle that is sent to a landfill can take up to a million years to decompose. On the other side, recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent.
41. Recycle the aluminum cans.
42. Recycle the electronic gadgets.
43. Use as much as you can non-toxic cosmetics and home cleaning products (Which you can also make it at home. Check this for inspiration).
44. Find natural ways to get rid of weeds and pests (instead of using pesticides and herbicides)
45. Don’t dump the used cooking oil, motor oil, paint, antifreeze, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals down the storm drain, street gutter or pour it into the grass! All these toxic products end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Instead, collect it in special containers and take it to a local recycling drop-off.
46. Buy local goods. A lot more air pollution is generated when goods are transported on long distances (some of it from one side of the world to the other) than when on short distances. Of course it would be healthier both for you and the planet to grow your own food (at least the veggies).
47. Eat more vegetables. Modern agricultural practices produce a lot of air and water pollution (for example it requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef).
48. Buy organically-grown food. They are grown without using chemical fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides.
49. Buy fish and other seafood products that come from sustainable fisheries. You can recognize these products after the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label.
50. Reuse food scraps and leftovers.
51. Compost food and paper (except for colored and glossy paper, which might contain some toxic heavy metals). Through composting you can save the waste that’s destined for landfills and turn it into usable, nutrient-rich soil.
Conserve the water
52. Don’t leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth.
53. Don’t let the hot water run continually when you wash the dishes by hand.
54. Install water-saving devices on your faucets and toilets.
55. Wash and dry only full loads of laundry and dishes.
56. Take more showers than baths. Baths require almost twice as much water.
57. Take short showers.
58. Avoid recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.
59. Select the proper pan size for cooking. Large pans may require more oil and water than necessary.
60. Water your plants deeply but less frequently. Through this method the plants will have deep roots and will be drought tolerant.
61. Plant species native to your region. They require little or no irrigation/fertilizer because they can survive with the area’s typical weather patterns.
62. Group plants with the same watering needs. in this way you will avoid over-watering some while under watering others.
63. Use porous material for walkways and patios to prevent wasteful runoff and keep water in your yard.
64. Water your plants during the early morning hours to minimize evaporation.
Conserve the energy
65. Replace old windows with energy efficient ones.
66. Use solar power for heating the water.
Photo by Foncesoulstudio via commons.wikimedia.org
67. Wash clothes in warm or cold water.
68. Hang out your laundry to dry – instead of using a gas dryer or electric dryer.
69. Turn off the lights even when you leave a room for a short time.
70. Use timers on lights in areas where lights may be accidentally left on for long periods (garages, attics and others).
71. Use energy-saving light bulbs.
72. Turn off your computer and other appliances at night or when you go to work.
73. Buy a new TV! It seems that modern TVs consume less than half the electricity of older models.
74. Locate freezers away from heat sources and direct sunlight.
75. Don’t keep the refrigerator or the freezer too cold. For the fridge the recommended temperature is 3 to 5 degrees Celsius, and for the freezer -15 to -18 degrees Celsius.
76. Allow recently-cooked food to cool before placing in the fridge (you will save energy but you will also avoid spoiling other food in the fridge).
77. Cover liquids and wrap foods when you put it in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
78. Only open the fridge when you know what you would like to eat. Constantly opening and shutting the door it will make the fridge to use more energy to keep the temperature steady.
79. Do not overfill the refrigerator- it will inhibit cold air from circulating.
80. Stay cool without an air conditioner- a fan uses much less electricity. By sleeping with a fan instead of an air conditioner you easily use 75% less energy.
Photo by Attila Siha/ CC BY NC 2.0
81. Keep doors and windows shut when the heating or air conditioning is running.
82. Use a pressure cooker. It reduces the amount of time need to cook and helps you save energy.
83. Cover saucepans with lids- it is another method to reduce the cooking time.
84. Use a steamer or a segmented pan – it allows you to cook two (or more) vegetables in one pan at the same time.
85. Do not pre heat the oven unless you are making bread or pastries.
86. Use a tea kettle instead of a pan to heat water.
87. Cut food into smaller pieces to cook it faster.
88. Don’t use the oven to heat your kitchen!
89. Keep the fireplace damper closed
90. Turn off the individual heating systems (if you have) in rooms you aren’t using. And keep the doors closed.
Protect/respect animals and birds
91. Purchase cruelty-free cosmetics and household products.
92. Don’t buy clothes or objects made of ivory, tortoise shell, coral, or reptile skins. They come from endangered animals or plants.
93. Cut up the plastic 6-pack holders every time you throw it. Lots of animals and birds die from uncut 6-pack holders and other ringed packages every year.
94. If you have a garden plant shrubs, flowers and trees that attract wildlife.
95. Create amazing bird feeders and bird baths from recycled materials. Stock them with clean food and water and let the birds be happy!
96. Let them live! Snakes, spiders, bees, bats and other „scary” creatures aren’t very pleasant at sight, but they are a sign that an ecosystem is in good health. So, if you really want to help the planet, don’t kill them.
97. The same advice for moles, groundhogs, and squirrels – let them live! They may cause a little inconvenience in your garden, but they also have a role to play in your region’s ecosystem.
98. Don’t disturb the wild places where animals make their homes. When you visit a forest, beach, wetland and so on stay on trails so you don’t accidentally cause damage to an animal’s habitat.
99. Adopt a pet from an animal shelter, or rescue group.
100. Be a good example for others!
Share with us other things we can do to help the planet be a better place to live.
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