As we go about our day-to-day lives, we often don’t realize that our smallest actions can have the biggest impacts. It’s easy to forget to turn the lights off when leaving a room and it’s extremely tempting to take a 40-minute shower, especially after coming inside from the cold. However, it’s important to know these actions, or privileges, greatly increase our ecological footprint, while our Earth is already struggling to sustain itself.
By making a few simple choices each day (even choices that don’t empty your wallet), you can greatly reduce the impact that you have as an individual on this planet.
Composting is an easy way to reduce the amount of waste you create, and it's really easy to start. Things like fruit and vegetable peels are great items to include and they're something you would be throwing in the trash anyway! Amazon has a lot of options for composting kits or you can create your own.
2. Choose environmentally friendly products.
Cleaning supplies and skin care products are a good place to start with this. There are plenty of environmentally friendly or safe cleaning products at your local grocery store that can be just as cheap as other brands. With skin care products, it's important to note whether it has natural ingredients or exfoliants, as plastic exfoliants don't break down once they're in the environment.
3. Join a local group.
Doing a simple search on the Sierra Club website or Facebook will help you locate some environmental groups or volunteer groups in which you can get involved. These groups can help you stay informed and educated about any environmental issues or about new ways to help out!
4. Contribute to environmental organizations or start a fundraiser.
Donating as little as $5, whether it's a monthly gift or not, can have a huge impact on the work that many environmental organizations do. Some great places to donate are the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy, but a simple Google search can help you find a ton of other non-profits that need your help.
5. Reach out to your Representative.
While the local environmental groups mentioned before may help you get in contact with your local government, another way to help is to contact your Representative. Calling them and sending them emails and letters gives them a better idea of what their constituents want, thus influencing their decisions based on the voices of the people.
6. Be aware of where your food comes from.
Getting as much of your produce as you can from a farmers market does so much good in so many ways. Your local farmers are most likely using less harmful chemicals on their produce, which reduces negative effects in many places in the environment. Plus the food is just as good, if not better!
7. Use as many reusable bags as you can.
Many cities are already implementing plastic bag bans so investing in a few reusable bags can put you a step ahead. In addition to reusable grocery bags, there are also reusable snack bags! Sometimes you'll be able to find these in some local businesses but if not, Etsy is a great place to find them as well.
Your local nature preserves are always looking for volunteers to help pull out invasive species and keep the area healthy. You can contact your area's park district to find out how to get started.
Of course, there are many more things you can do to help make a positive impact on our environment, but these are a few that I believe are easy first steps. Our environment serves so many great purposes for us and the least we can do is give back and keep our Earth happy and healthy.