Preservation, conservation, sustainability. These ideas can be very daunting. What exactly do they mean and what is the point? How can your individual actions really have an impact on our planet’s future? Sometimes it can be hard to realize that our small actions do have an effect. The environmental movement is exactly that, a movement. It starts with small, individual action that will have enormous effects down the line as it grows. Here are a few things you can do to live more sustainably and help to fuel the movement.
Don’t buy plastic water bottles
One of the things that makes me physically cringe is when I spot someone drinking from a plastic water bottle. Every single second, 1500 plastic water bottles are used in just the United States alone. I don’t want to hate too hard on plastic water bottle drinkers, but there is SO much wrong with the water industry. First of all, why has water, a naturally occurring substance, turned into a multibillion-dollar industry ($360 billion to be exact)? Tap water in most places around the world is perfectly safe for consumption and it also happens to be practically free. The industry wants people to think that the water that comes out of their sink at home isn’t as healthy as the water you can buy in stores. This is actually the complete opposite. The water that you buy in stores is the same water that you would be drinking at home, plus a few chemicals like DEHA (carcinogen) and BPB (a hormone disruptor) from the thin plastic used to make the bottles. So, in terms of health, it is not a good choice. Environmentally speaking, plastic water bottles contribute to the tons of pollution that are filling our oceans. The amount of oil that is used to produce plastic in bottles is enough to fuel every single car in the world for a year. Water is also needed to make the bottles. In fact, three times the amount of water that will end up going into the bottle is needed to produce it. And after all of this, the bottle will end up in landfills, or in oceans, taking up space and leaching microplastics and other chemicals into the environment. So hopefully this has convinced you to spend a couple of bucks on a bottle that will probably last you the rest of your life. The problem of water bottles is really an easy problem to solve on an individual level. Buy a water bottle, fill it up in your sink, and voila, you’re saving the environment, your health, and a couple of dollars. For further reading check out this article by National Geographic.
Carry extra grocery bags
Luckily, many cities have been banning or reducing the use of plastic bags and similar single-use plastics. Though, by carrying around one or two reusable bags in your purse, backpack, or car, you can help this cause as well. They are cheap, lightweight, and convenient to carry around. Not to mention, canvas bags create a pretty nice aesthetic. It’s that simple.
Cut down on animal products
I just finished watching Cowspircy on Netflix and I learned about so many things that I was barely aware of. I knew that I was vegan for environmental reasons, but this documentary enforced my reasoning for becoming exclusively plant-based. The animal production sector has detrimental effects on our planet and has impacts on species extinction, climate change, deforestation, water use, waste, land use, and more. Check out this infographic on the Cowspiracy website for detailed facts. Essentially, by not eating anything produced by animals you are refusing to take part in an industry that will be the cause of our planet’s ultimate demise. That was pretty dark, but sadly that statement was born from fact.
Buy clothes online/ from consignment and thrift stores
This is one of my favorite tips. Not only are you saving the environment, and your wallet, you have the chance to explore your style. Whenever I thrift I always find the most unique, statement pieces for my wardrobe. I love giving cool clothing a second life when they normally would’ve just taken up closet space before ultimately ending up in a landfill. Fast fashion is growing in popularity. While you may think of fast fashion as those online marketplaces based internationally, like Zaful, Shein, or Ali Express, stores like H&M, Zara, and Topshop are some of the biggest perpetrators in the industry. In all honesty, I have made purchases from most of these stores, unaware of the impact that I was having on the environment. The fashion industry is responsible for 92 million tons of solid waste being dumped annually, 20% of global wastewater, and is the source of more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping. Clothing production is destroying our environment. Instead, consider shopping at thrift stores or consignment shops. There are also dozens of apps and websites that allow you to sell your old clothes or buy other second-hand clothing. Though, if you can, shop locally and don’t buy online. Another option is to buy apparel from companies that are making their clothing sustainably and ethically. Download Good On You in the app store to discover which brands operate ethically, or check out this article and explore their website.
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