Unless you’re Leonardo DiCaprio, you probably don’t have a ton of time or resources to dedicate to saving the planet. It can be daunting to even begin to think about how to reduce your carbon footprint when you’re struggling just to find time to breathe; however, there are many simple things you can do each day that will make a significant difference. Here, 10 environmentally-friendly practices to incorporate into your life ASAP.
Meat production has a high cost to the environment in terms of water used, greenhouse gases emitted, and fossil fuel-based energy expended. 1,850 gallons of water are used to produce a single pound of beef, for example, while a pound of vegetables takes just 35 gallons. Meanwhile, if we took the grain used to feed livestock (they consume 70% of the world's grain) and instead used it to feed people with a vegetarian diet, we could feed 840 million people. Going entirely meatless is daunting to most, but opting to lessen the amount of animal products consumed per week is a good place to start. We love Purple Carrot's vegan meal kits as an easy place to start.
Here is a fascinating (nerd alert—but seriously!) analysis of why cloth napkins are more environmentally-friendly at home, but why you can conscientiously use the paper variety when you're out on the town. If cloth napkins at home aren't an option, opt for buying recycled products from a brand like Seventh Generation whenever possible.
When it rains, place a bucket outside to capture water you can use to hydrate your plants when the skies are dry. You can also water your plants with water used by placing a bowl in your sink while rinsing fruits and vegetables. The shower is another good opportunity to capture water that would otherwise be wasted, particularly while you're waiting for the water to warm up.
Microbeads are going the way of the dinosaur thanks to a law banning use of the harmful plastic ingredient, which Barack Obama signed into existence in 2015 and which will take full effect in 2017. In the meantime, avoid skincare products marketed with the term "exfoliating beads."
Plastic straws are one of the top 10 products found littered on beaches during clean ups. They also contain BPA, which is toxic. Turn them down whenever offered.
Homemade cleaners are less harmful to the environment than commercial products, and use of DIY products cuts back on wasteful packaging. They're also better for your health and will save you money. Most are super fast and easy to make, too.
When making the rounds to flip off your lights before you leave the house, unplug your chargers (and as many appliances as possible) as well. You should also always turn off your computer while sleeping.
The average faucet releases three gallons of water per minute. Turn yours off while you brush your teeth.
Only doing full loads of laundry can save 3,400 gallons of water per year. Ensuring your lint filter is clean can decrease energy usage by 30%.
Sleeping reduces your carbon footprint. Seriously! Read more about why here.