It can be overwhelming to think of how quickly the environment is changing and how much human activity is impacting the natural world. However, focusing on this eco-anxiety isn’t a productive way to care for the planet.
Changing your personal habits is one of the most practical ways you can have a positive impact on the environment. Here are seven lifestyle changes you can make for the planet today.
1. Avoid Everything Plastic
Although it’s convenient, plastic is terrible for the planet. Over 300 million tons of plastic are created each year, and most of them end up in a landfill. Unfortunately, plastic doesn’t biodegrade – instead, it turns into microplastics that spread around the globe, harming wildlife and contaminating water sources.
Single-use plastics are especially wasteful since they’re only used once. Fast fashion is also a huge contributor to plastic waste since many synthetic materials are actually forms of plastic. You can take an important step toward reducing plastic waste by using as little of it as possible.
2. Scrub the Toilet Safely
Many popular cleaning products contain chemicals that are toxic to animals and can pollute the natural water supply. For example, ammonia is a common ingredient in cleaning products that negatively affects the environment. Many household cleaning products also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which pollute the air.
Fortunately, there are many environmentally friendly cleaning products available that are still highly effective for cleaning your home. Switching to these products for your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room will protect the environment and make your home a safer place to live.
3. Review Personal Products
Makeup and other personal products are also common culprits for toxic compounds. The beauty industry is largely unregulated, which means many companies don’t report all their ingredients on product labels. Women are more likely to be affected by these toxic chemicals because they typically use more of these products than men.
After being used, chemicals from personal care products end up in the environment where they impact wildlife and pollute the water supply. Clean up your personal products this year to reduce the level of toxins in the environment and support companies producing natural, sustainable products.
4. Reduce Energy Use
Modern households run on electricity. A large majority of energy in most homes goes toward regulating internal temperatures and heating water for showers and laundry. Another significant portion is spent on lighting.
Do you want to make an even more significant difference? Take efforts to cut back power and reduce airflow out of the home, which can waste heat and cooling powered by electricity.
Improving insulation in walls is one way to accomplish this, though you can try weatherstripping as a quick DIY fix. Opting for energy-efficient windows can increase energy savings by 25%, and switching from incandescent bulbs to LED lights can increase efficiency by 30%. These figures all add up to be significant changes for both your home and the planet.
5. Recycle Electronics
E-waste is becoming a huge problem as the number of broken and outdated electronics around the world continues to grow. Before you throw away your old phone, tablet, computer, or any other gadgets, check to see if there’s a recycling center near you where you can drop them off.
Some parts of electronics, like lithium batteries, can pollute the environment if they’re sent to a landfill. In fact, some batteries are so hazardous that it’s actually illegal to throw them away. You can use websites like Earth911 to find safe drop-off facilities near you where these dangerous materials can be recycled so they don’t leak into the environment.
6. Consume Food Mindfully
The way you eat can also impact the health of the environment. It takes energy to grow and transport food, and energy to earn an income to buy food at the grocery store. However, reports show that too much of our food supply gets thrown away. How can you help?
Buying locally grown foods and planning meals can help reduce this waste. Learning to cook your own meals can also help you cut down on the plastic packaging you buy from the grocery store.
Although it is difficult to shop completely plastic-free in many regions, every piece of packaging you avoid makes a difference. You can also use glass containers to store food instead of relying on single-use plastic bags.
7. Practice Minimal Living
The average American home contains 300,000 items. All of these items will impact the environment in some way during their life cycle, whether in their creation, use, or disposal. Although one way to protect the environment is to buy eco-friendly products, a better way may be to reduce the number of products you buy in the first place.
Being a minimalist doesn’t mean you throw everything away or only own 10 items. However, practicing a minimalist mindset can help you identify what you really need to live and what items help you find joy in the everyday. Owning a lot of clutter is a strain on your wallet and your peace of mind, so buying fewer items can be healthy for you and for the planet.
Making Small Changes for Environmental Impact
Follow these steps to practice green habits that are good for you and the environment. Changing your lifestyle takes time, so give yourself grace during the process. With enough practice, you can continue to reduce your personal negative impact on the environment and have confidence your actions are making a difference to protect the planet.