Easy Steps To Make Big Changes.

10 Small, Sustainable Changes To Make In Your Life

Helping the planet thrive is not a hard task, but it is something that needs to have happened yesterday.

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Nowadays you see people walking around with their fifty dollar water bottles, driving around in their energy efficient cars, and preaching on social media how to help the planet by not using straws. When in reality all of these changes need to have happened ago, and while they may seem annoying are very valuable when it comes to protecting our home — Earth. You may have heard of huge changes that need to have happened ten years ago, but instead of focusing on the past, take a look into the present and make daily changes that will not only help our planet now, but for generations to come.

1. Meatless Mondays

You have probably heard of this from multiple organizations but according to Meatless Monday Replacing meat with plant-based choices each Monday can offer numerous health benefits and help you take action against climate change by reducing your carbon footprint and helping you conserve precious environmental resources.

2. Buy reusable straws

Reusable straws are one of the easiest replacements that someone can make. With all of the different types and styles of straws there are, if you use a plastic one you are adding to the overwhelming amount of garbage in our oceans. Think about not only the turtles but of the chemicals you are producing! No more excuses.

3. Say goodbye to single use plastic products

Single-use plastic products come in many shapes and sizes, one of the most prominent being to go boxes and ziplock baggies. Investing in mason jars, glass Tupperware, or even beeswax covers are great alternatives to the plastic. Plus they will look super trendy on your shelves!

4. Grow some of your own produce

Growing your food is as simple as finding enough dirt, space, and time to plant a few seeds and in a few weeks be rewarded with fresh vegetables and fruit that your climate produces. This will not only save you money but give your evenings a purpose greater than just Netflix in the summer months.

5. Switch up your laundry settings

Changing from hot to warm water can cut the energy in half, just for solely warming up the water. Another aspect to laundry you can do is to hang your clothes to dry overnight. Set up a station in an empty space and lay your clothes flat or hang them on a cheap clothing rack.

6. Walk or bike instead of birding or driving

Biking or walking is not only free but it also works your body while taking a weight off the already climbing climate pollution due to charging the birds and filling up a gas tank. If the single transportation devices don't work for your lifestyle try carpooling, or taking public transportation.

7. Buy from the local farmers market

Buying from the farmers market helps immensely with health and community sustainability. The farmers provide the local community with healthy and rich produce from their farms, halting the process of mass production from local grocers. The big brands not only hurt the environment from their packaging but also from the transportation in their products. Know what is going into your body, but also into the air around you.

8. Buy a bamboo toothbrush

Over 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes that will never biodegrade are dumped in landfills and oceans every year worldwide. Buying a bamboo toothbrush will help with the disposal process because due to its plant-based materials will biodegrade so much faster than plastic, and not leave behind a stream of chemicals.

9. Buy and sell from local thrift stores

Buying second-hand clothing and other items means less goes into the landfills and fewer resources are used and less pollution is created in making new items. It will also save you some money, and possibly put some money back in your pocket by reselling some clothes. Added bonus: No one will have the same fit as you.

10. Recycle

This last tip is the easiest. In all honesty, it is just taking the time from putting a plastic/glass/metal bottle from one trashcan to a slightly prettier trashcan. One single bottle can change the whole game plan of the world.

These ten simple tasks will not only make you feel better about the person you are promoting but the type of person you are going to influence. Helping the planet is something that needs to happen as soon as possible. Without change, we will do more harm than good in the force of climate change. One little difference between thousands of people is better than huge changes from only a handful. Do your part, and save the life that lives around you.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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10 Of The Biggest Threats To Our Oceans, And What We Can Do To Help Minimize The Damage

Who doesn't love a good day at the beach?

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I've been in a very beachy or ocean themed mood lately, and it probably has something to do with the fact that I am currently on vacation in Florida. Anyways, oceans cover about 70 percent of the Earth's surface and even most of that we haven't explored yet.

But, let's face some unfortunate facts, our oceans could be endangered between all of the plastic pollutions among various other things that are a threat to them.

Here is a list of some of those harmful things and what you can try to do to help minimize your impact.

1. Trash, trash, and more trash

trash

YIKES! You all probably know the story of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but unfortunately, there are still tons deep down under the surface that can't easily be picked up.

Sadly, there isn't much one can do to help with this, besides just not letting it get to that point in the first place. For instance, if you see it, pick it up and put it in a trash can.

2. Climate change

21st century ecological sensitivity

Now, I KNOW I've posted a lot of articles about this, but come on, it's important.

One way to combat climate change is to make smarter choices about how we not only eat but travel.

3. Sustainable seafood

fish

You would think that with the word "sustainable," it would be a good thing, but alas it's not. Almost a third of global fish stocks are overfished. Fish that were once extremely abundant, such as bluefin tuna, are now becoming increasingly endangered.

Of course, simply just not eating fish isn't the way to go either. A new app called seafood watch can help you keep away and pick healthier choices instead.

4. Protected areas/habitats

protected marine habitats

Specifically, marine. We all know that parks and protected areas on land help wildlife such as bears, deer, and elephants thrive. The same is true for underwater protected areas. In addition to preserving charismatic and ecologically important marine wildlife, including sharks, dolphins, and corals, protected areas in the ocean can act like savings accounts for fisheries. Fish inside such areas grow larger and generate more offspring.

The problem is that they spill beyond the boundaries of the protected area and are harvested by fisheries as a return on their investment in the park.

One way to help is to back local, national, and international efforts to set up those parks.

5. Fishing subsidies

fishing

Ah, yes. The old Tragedy of the Commons. When there is something seen as a "common" good, more people decide that they are going to go for it because they think that everyone else around them is leading to, in this case, overfishing.

There is a crucial opportunity to take a firm stance on prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies at the 2019 ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization. We must urge our national leaders to reach an agreement to end subsidies and promote a healthy future for fish and fishermen in our global oceans.

6. Sunscreen

coral safe sunscreen

Beachgoers are in for a lovely surprise to find out that what is protecting them could be destroying corals, many of which are home to marine life.

One way to help with this is to use sunscreen that is reef-friendly.

7. Acidification

acidification

This is what I was talking about when I said that we affect more than just the surface, and it's not just an effect seen in the oceans either. Acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

How to solve this? Reducing our use of so many of things, like fertilizer, may help and then washing it away, or putting plastic down somewhere and forgetting about it.

8. Whaling

killer whales jumping

It's hard to believe commercial whaling still happens, isn't it?

The practice was rampant for so long that many whale species were driven to the brink of extinction. In the US, the North Atlantic right whale is down to about 350 remaining individuals.

Good news is that this is not as popular now as it was before, and the moratorium on commercial whaling Greenpeace and allies won in 1986 — honored by all but Japan, Iceland, and Norway — is slowly helping most of the great whale populations to recover.

9. Humans

i am a human being

And not just us, but the activities we do. Our species put more trash (and has a bigger ecological footprint) than any other species, and most of it begins on land.

10.  Influence your community

porky pig

Even if you are landlocked and the closest ocean is miles and miles away. Every little bit helps.

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