Most of us get up each day without so much as a thought to what environmental choices we make every single hour of our day. It can be overwhelming to think about just how detrimental our society has become in protecting the future of our environment. I don’t know about you, but most days my job, making enough money to pay the bills and keep food in the fridge, and embracing my hobbies and activities for the day is what’s on my mind the most. Environmental choices are important to me, but often take a backseat in my mind’s priority list. If you’re in the same boat as I am, I’d like you to join me this year in really paying attention to some environmental choices we make each day that are really important to think about. No matter how easy they are to neglect, these choices affect us in many, many different ways we never think about.
1. Water Use
Most of us start our day with making one of the most unconscious environmental choices of all. In fact, I can guarantee you that the first hour I’m awake, I probably use more water overall than most families in developing world countries consume in a day. Using the bathroom, brushing your teeth, showering, fixing breakfast and drinking a glass of water each morning are all things I do, and probably you do, regularly. Then, add in coffee, tea, washing dishes and other morning rituals, and that’s all before lunch! Did you know our water shortage in the world is at an alarmingly high level? Not only that, but our water supply is more toxic than ever before. Most of us are not only unaware of how much water we use, but also how it affects the shortages we face. In fact, scientists say in just decades, our water supply will become extremely low, possibly causing a worldwide water crisis. The Huffington Post reported in December 2013 of 7 cities that are already in a water crisis here in the U.S. To reduce your water shortage, take shorter showers, don’t brush your teeth with the water running nonstop and wash your dishes in the same sink of water most of the day if possible. Reuse any water that you can, and add a special flusher to your bathroom that can help reduce water. These are all small things that add up quickly, just in the first hour you wake up.
2. Toxic Water Supply
How many of you have ever flushed a pill or any other chemical down your toilet? Guess what? That ends up in your water supply that you drink! Most municipal water supply companies here in the U.S. are filled with toxins from cleaning supplies, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, over the counter drugs and other things that should never end up in your drinking water! Most all municipal water supplies here in the U.S. are overburdened with toxic substances, some of which are never filtered out of your water supply. Most water supply companies don’t filter out heavy metals, excess copper, and excess lead or chlorine. In fact, our water supply here in SC is so filled with chlorine, you can smell it in the tap water. Always be mindful of the damage you’re doing to yourself and others when flushing things down the toilet, or washing them down the sink. Also, use a Brita filter whenever possible, or install a water purifier in your home to be sure you have clean water to drink.
3. Paper Towels
For one week, challenge yourself not to use paper towels and use a dish cloth instead to dry your hands. Also, try using a hand rag to wash off surfaces and clean glass with. Paper towels contribute to a huge pile of waste and though that might not seem like a lot, recycling alone can’t keep up with the loss of trees our country suffers from paper usage. Trees are responsible for contributing to quality air supply and for protecting our natural habitat. Though you might not think your measly paper towels make a difference, I can promise you, they do.
4. Less Meat
Animal production in the U.S. wastes more fossil fuels and contributes to more air contamination, waste land and toxic fumes that are put into the environment than any other cause in our country. Consuming less meat and animal foods is one of the best ways you can contribute to environmental awareness and preservation. Not only are animals expensive to raise and slaughter, but overall production of animal foods in the U.S. for one year alone produces more carbon dioxide emissions than most people’s average car in a lifetime. I’m not asking you to be vegan, but do try to make at least three of your meals a week vegetarian and only consume one animal food a day on the other days if possible.
Have you ever considered how many waste products you go through when you buy groceries? Let’s start with when you arrive. The plastic produce bags, the boxed cereals, packaged meats, packaged yogurts in plastic, and then the shopping bags, and receipt paper. All of those things cost money to produce, and also contribute to environmental waste, many of which are never recycled and go straight to the landfill. A few things you can do? First, buy reusable cloth produce bags, which actually extend the use of your produce, and you can buy them online. The’yre easy to wash and even come in nice colors. Next, buy as many whole foods as you can, instead of packaged foods. Doing this will dramatically cut costs on boxed and plastic sealed goods, and most likely be better for you. Buy less animal products, if any. Make your own nut and seed butters instead of buying plastic containers, or opt for glass jars at the store. Buy loose leaf tea instead of tea bags. Make your own yogurt, or perhaps get your probiotics through other foods. At checkout, use your own reusable shopping bags and simply wash them when you get home. You can also easily recycle your receipt after you leave, even if you end up shredding it first to protect your information.
6. Drink More Water
Overall, drinking more water than drinking packaged juices, sodas, teas, etc. will be one of the best environmental choices you make everyday. Just don’t forget your Brita filter, or other filter!
7. Choose the Best Companies
Always choose the best companies to buy your food, household products, beauty products, cleaning products, and even clothing items from. Many contribute to environmental preservation, and recycle all their own materials, or make the containers from recycled materials. It might take a little investigating, but it most definitely makes it worth your time and money to do so.
8. Buy Organic
Another way to make a huge impact on the environment is to choose organic whenever you can. Organic foods and products are not only better for you and your body, but also the environment. They produce less waste, and they put money back into agriculture, so we can be assured that farmers producing organic foods, and companies producing organic products, will be rewarded as they should be. Without enough funding, organic foods and products would be impossible to maintain for a long period of time. Choose to feed those causes with your dollars, instead of landfill wastes and toxic pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals in your food.
9. Walk More
Lastly, one of the best choices you can make is to walk whenever you can instead of driving. If you don’t live somewhere that this is an option, at least try to minimize your time in the car each week by conserving errands and running your errands when you’re at work. Also, try to only go to local places whenever possible, and if you do have to drive a good bit away, conserve your gas the rest of the week. If you can afford to buy a fuel efficient vehicle, all the better, but in any other circumstances, walk whenever possible. As a bonus, you’ll be a little healthier too!
Environmental choices are simple to make, but we rarely actually acknowledge that we have a direct hand in making them. Do you ever think about what environmental choices you make?