5 Ways You Can Help Your Environment Right Now
“Climate change is no longer some far off problem. It is happening here, it is happening now,” said Barrack Obama. Scientists agree we are now experiencing the sixth mass extinction the Earth has seen– although the first to be caused by humans. We are a species with an incredible ability to both create and destroy. Integrating small, easy changes into our everyday lives can produce an enormous difference. There is so much we can do as an individual to make a real impact on our Mother Earth.
Sail across the Pacific Ocean and you may encounter an island of garbage spanning 1.6 million km2 . That’s almost as large as the entire country of Mexico. Record breaking temperatures are felt around the world. There is no scientific debate about climate change, only those who take action versus others who would rather stick their head in the sand (which there will be a lot more of due to desertification). Luckily, our situation is not hopeless, because there are people like you who care to take personal responsibility and aid our ailing planet.
By taking care of your body, you give yourself permission to take care of others and your environment. Eating a plant based diet, exercising, communing with nature and staying informed on the current issues at hand are all excellent beginnings.
Here are five things you can do right now to help your environment.
1. Try Going Meat Free
Eating vegan is now seen as the “single biggest way” to reduce our carbon footprint. By now, most of us have heard of the countless health benefits of a vegan diet - including reduced risk of Alzheimers, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obesity. But it actually goes even deeper. By choosing plant based meat free options, you’re voting with your dollar to save rainforests, animals, and fossil fuels.
A comprehensive meta-analysis by the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from diet reduces your carbon footprint by up to 73%. Published in the journal Science, it is the most extensive analysis to date on the impact of animal agricultural farming by comprising data of 40,000 farms in 119 countries. The farming stage of food production for the livestock we consume accounts for 61% of greenhouse gas emissions (81% including deforestation). This is amazing news for those looking for more reasons to go vegan, or transition to meat free nourishment!
Note: When switching to a vegan, vegetarian, or plant based diet, supplementation, monitoring macro and micronutrients, and blood levels are all key! It’s easy to encounter nutrient deficiencies when switching to a plant based diet, but the app Cronometer is an excellent food tracker that monitor your food intake beyond just calories. It is essential to be informed and consult a nutritionist on how to create a thriving, balanced life and maintain vitality when transitioning what you eat.
2. Reduce Your Consumption of Single Use Plastics
Virtually every piece of plastic ever made still exists in some shape or form, and 91% of plastic waste isn’t recycled. We now have an island of garbage and plastic, called the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, that has grown to over 617,000 square miles (that’s over 298 million football fields) between Hawai’i and California. Sea turtles, fish, birds, whales and other creatures die or are seriously maimed due to plastic waste that ends up in our oceans. But what are we to do, when seemingly all of our “essential” items are made from plastic, wrapped in plastic, and bagged in… you guessed it! Plastic.
3. Contact Your Local Government Officials / Join An Activist Group in Your Area!
Amazing, seemingly impossible accomplishments can happen when we come together for a common goal. In August 2017, the Trump administration reversed its decision to delay Obama-set regulations on the ozone national standard from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. This is a success due to 16 Democratic state attorneys, who sued Scott Pruitt of the EPA. Your vote, and voice, matters. Here are some ways you can make a difference on a local and national level.
4. Recycle EVERYTHING.
There are a variety of raw materials that can be recycled, including: paper, plastic, electronics, aluminum, glass and more. How to recycle these products can be tricky, and differ within regions. Take into consideration the resources you already have, like whether your house/apartment readily recycles, have access to a car, or get creative with reusing. All these listed are factors when it comes to recycling, which can be solved and overcome. Here are some helpful resources:
5. Reduce Carbon Emissions from Driving
When possible, walking, bicycling, or public transportation is a healthy and green alternative to driving. The average vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. To put that in perspective, humans breathe out approximately .328 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Pre industrial era, there was a tremendous amount less carbon dioxide being released into the air due to transportation. Below are some ways you can make a shift in returning our planet to the state it was given to us.