Small Habits Have A Profound Impact
This year’s Earth Day may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean our efforts to protect this planet have to end. In fact, they should keep going.
While planting a tree or volunteering to help at a beach clean-up as part of your Earth Day celebrations is always great, the choices you may in your day-to-day life are often the most impactful. So what can you do to live a more sustainable life?
The first step is to go back to some of the basics you were taught as a child. Were you told to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or doing dishes? Did your parents have a habit of turning the thermostat down at night? Were you taught to recycle packages made from cardboard or plastic? These may all seem like small habits, but over the course of a year, they can add up to have a profound impact on the health of our planet.
Want some more ideas of small habits you can form to live a more sustainable lifestyle? Here are 7 of our favorites.
- Think about the supply chain. In America, the supply chain for the vast majority of the products we purchase is so far removed from our daily lives that we don’t give it a lot of thought. However, understanding it helps you know where your items are coming from, which is an important part of sustainable living. The next time you’re buying something, ask yourself where the item came from, what was needed to make it, how far it has to travel to get to you, and if you can rent or borrow it instead of purchasing it.
- Travel thoughtfully. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation makes up about 29% of the nation’s total carbon emissions. Thankfully, we can reduce this by simply being more thoughtful about our modes of transportation. Walking and biking have the lowest carbon footprint, so choose those whenever possible. For destinations that are further away, consider carpooling or using public transportation as they have lower carbon footprints per person than taking your own vehicle.
- Buy in bulk. Nearly every time you purchase a product, there is packaging that needs to be discarded. While purchasing things in smaller quantities is often more convenient, it can quickly add up to having a lot of excess packaging to throw away. On the other hand, buying items in bulk often results in the use of less packing material. Additionally, it helps you cut back on fuel emissions since you’ll be able to go to the store or order online less frequently.
- Turn down the bag. It can take up to 1,000 years for a single plastic bag to decompose, and they pose a significant threat to both land and marine wildlife. Taking the small step to decline a bag for small purchases and choosing to use reusable bags for larger ones can help save over 300 bags a year from being sent to the landfill!
- Kick the bottled water. Americans purchase 50 million plastic water bottles each year, and these bottles each take over 450 years to break down. Although highly convenient, bottled water requires a lot of energy to produce, transport, and chill–approximately 2,000 times more energy than that required for tap water. Needless to say, sticking to filling a glass or reusable bottle with tap water can make a big difference for this planet.
- Air-dry your clothes and dishes. Clothes dryers and dishwashers are some of the largest users of energy in our homes. You can substantially cut back on your household’s energy usage by simply choosing to air dry your dishes and hang your laundry out to dry. When you’re in a pinch and need to dry a load of laundry, you can increase your dryer’s efficiency by cleaning the lint trap frequently and using the moisture sensor setting to reduce drying time.
- Conserve water outdoors. You already know that turning the tap off while brushing your teeth, fixing leaky faucets, and taking shorter showers can help you conserve water in your house. Now take those efforts outside by adding a shut-off nozzle to your hose and washing your car on the lawn. You can also add mulch to your garden, which will help prevent soil erosion as well as water loss through evaporation.
As Earth Day month comes to a close, join us in doubling down on our efforts to protect this planet by adding small, sustainable habits to your daily routine. Remember, a little bit goes a long way, and when we work together and do our part, we can have a profound impact on the health of this planet.