The environment faces numerous challenges today. Global warming is driving sea levels higher, causing extreme weather, and changing ecosystems in unexpected ways.
It will take a worldwide effort to address and adapt to these changes. Governments and industries will play a part, but there are plenty of things you can do too!
While research and innovation in transportation, food supply, material use, and energy are hugely important, here are some things you can do to help the environment right from your own home:
- Switch to Energy-saving Light Bulbs - The EPA reports that if every household in the U.S. replaced just one standard incandescent light bulb with an energy-efficient one, the nation would save about $600 million annually in energy costs.
- Clean transportation - Walk or bike when possible or take public transportation. Shift from gas-consuming cars to electric vehicles.
- Eat More Food from Local Sources - Visit a farmer’s market — or even a local farm — and plan a family dinner using locally sourced ingredients.
- Limit or eliminate your consumption of animals and their by-products - Go vegetarian or vegan; it’s kind and eco-friendly. Meat—particularly beef—drives climate change in two ways: first, through cows' emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and second, by destroying forests as they are converted to grazing land.
- Upgrade your home insulation. - The EPA estimates that the average homeowner can save 15% on heating and cooling costs (11% of total energy costs) by adding insulation in attics, crawl spaces, and basement rim joists.
- Upgrade home energy source - Where possible, install solar or other renewable energy sources for your home or install air to heat pump systems.
- Lower the Temperature on Your Water Heater - Set too high (140 degrees or higher), water heaters can waste up to 5 percent on your heating costs and use. Talk to your kids about timing their showers while you’re at it.
- Fix Leaks - A leak of one drip per second can waste 259 gallons of water every month, according to the Department of Energy. Do a water audit with your kids and teach them how to tighten up the faucet.
- Start a Compost Bin - Composting is an excellent way to feed the soil, organisms in the soil, and plant life while reducing waste. Teach your family about composting by setting up your first bin together.
- Keep Reusable Shopping Bags - Being prepared with reusable bags is key to reducing a major source of waste — plastic. Have your family buy some plain canvas totes and decorate them with fabric paint to make saving the planet more fun.
Use Earth-friendly Cleaning Products - There are so many more cost-effective, green-friendly options to choose from today. Go through your current cleaning supplies with your family and then go shopping for some earth-friendly supplies — or make your own from ingredients in your own pantry! ( add link)
- Turn It Off - It’s not just about saving money on your electric bill (although that’s a nice perk, too). Remember to recommit with your family to turn off lights and electric appliances when not in use. Consider charging family members a quarter (or smartphone time!) each time they forget and see how much quicker they develop the habit.
- Have a No TV Day - Encourage more time in the fresh air. Plan a family picnic in the park, go for a walk or plan some outdoor games. Think about making it a weekly family tradition!
Plant a Vegetable Garden - Start simple by planting some fresh herbs or container plants such as tomatoes.
- Grow house plants - Not only do house plants reduce carbon dioxide levels, increase humidity, reduce levels of pollutants, cushion against outdoor noise, reduce dust and keep the temperature down but they are also proven to improve your overall mood. People who are surrounded by plants throughout the day and at home are proven to be less stressed, more productive, and all-around happier.
- Recycle, and do it correctly! - In a perfect world, single-use plastic would not exist and we wouldn’t need to recycle. However, since we do, it’s important to do it correctly. Do some research on how your neighborhood, state, or country manages its recycling. There are certain rules about what goes in the recycling bin and how to put it there.