If you stay glued to the news, you've likely heard about the recent scientific predictions that, without major environmental changes, life on Earth may start facing serious consequences a lot sooner than we might have expected. That said, instead of letting that fear leave you feeling helpless, perhaps you can let it instead encourage you to adopt your own environmentally friendly practices that can ultimately help tip the scale in Earth's favor — many of which are a lot easier to implement than you might think.
Leslie VanKeuren Campbell, founder of zero-waste event-planning business and sustainability resource Sustain LA, has actually devoted her life's work to helping and teaching others how to reduce their carbon footprint and save society's natural resources. (In fact, the hospitality vet and her husband even managed to make their own nuptials waste-free.)
While many of you might already be putting a few Earth-benefiting practices in place in your daily routine — like bringing your reusable bag to the grocery store or switching to energy-efficient bulbs — there's a slew of other simple switch-ups anyone can make which, once adopted on a larger scale, can help create the change the environment needs. And most of them won't cost you a cent (in fact, they can actually save you a few bucks). Ahead, find VanKeuren Campbell's tips for how you can help make a big difference with the smallest things.
Shop Used/Vintage Clothing
Shopping used or vintage can satisfy your fashion urges without creating excess waste. Besides excess materials, fashion manufacturing can use a tremendous amount of resources, so making use of resale apps, vintage shops, flea markets, etc., can help curb this.
And when you want to buy something new, opt for sustainable brands and designers when you can. These pieces can be a bit pricier, but in the long run have a ton of benefits. As VanKeuren Campbell explains, "When purchasing something new, prioritize long-lasting (think lifetime warranty) and sustainable production. When you do this, you’ll save the planet and your money.” In short, favor quality over quantity.
“Every piece of plastic ever made still exists today, and by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans," VanKeuren Campbell informs. "While plastic makes sense in some long-term applications, our 'use it for a second and toss it' cannot be sustained.” To help cut back on plastic use, switch to reusable water bottles, thermoses, stainless steel straws, and grocery and produce bags.
Shop Local Food
In addition to getting fresher and more flavorful produce, “buying local also means less packaging and less transportation,” says VanKeuren Campbell. Utilize your local farmers market and stock up on seasonal or locally made goods when you can. If you don't have a local farmers market, look for businesses that offer delivery services, like Los Angeles' Imperfect Produce, a company that saves fruits and veggies deemed too physically "imperfect" for grocery stores (but are still delicious and beautiful in their own way) from being wasted, and delivers them to your door.
If saving the environment is a concern for you, take your voice to the polls in the upcoming midterms. Do your research and vote for candidates with environmental plans and agendas you believe in. You can register, or see if you're currently registered at Vote.org. "You are not alone," says VanKeuren Campbell. "Your voice matters. Your vote matters.”
“When food waste ends up in a landfill, it creates methane, a super-potent greenhouse gas," VanKeuren Campbell explains. "By composting food scraps, we ... return valuable nutrients to the soil." Yes, composting can be quite complicated. But if you're not ready to try it in your own backyard (or if you don't have a backyard to speak of), search for a local spot to drop off your own food waste. For example, some farmers markets will happily take your compost. Just do your research.
For the easiest approach, follow VanKeuren Campbell 's advice and "simply store food scraps in your fridge or freezer and take them to one of their hubs or farmers market collection points free of charge." For even more info about food waste, check out the EPA's handy food recovery hierarchy chart or visit Kiss the Ground, another great resource.
Use Alternate Transportation
“Whenever possible, opt for alternative means of transportation like walking, biking, and public transit,” suggests VanKeuren Campbell. If you must drive, consider carpooling and making use of ride share apps to save emissions.
Eat Less Meat
Not sure why meat matters? As VanKeuren Campbell explains, "From the feed, to land used for raising livestock, to the transportation of the finished product, meat and dairy consumption has a huge environmental footprint." But if you don't want to give up your meat and cheese (which is completely fair), consider simply reducing your intake and utilizing organic, grass-fed, free-range, and local options when you indulge.