Far too often, individuals believe that the only way towards environmental reform is through big projects. However, practices requiring large amounts of money are only one step towards a full solution. The truth is, you don’t need to implement wind turbines or solar panels in order to live a greener lifestyle.
These are 5 actionable steps you can take on a constant basis to go green.
1. Avoid single-use plastics.
By 2050, there is set to be more plastic in the ocean than fish with current lifestyles. With plastic pollution accumulating in Earth’s ecosystems, trillions of individual plastic particles float in water sources each year. Unfortunately, each of these particles can take up to 1000 years to decompose.
Individually choosing to use long-lasting items can reduce the amount of emitted waste and pollution. By implementing things such as reusable containers, bags, and metal straws in your household, you can reduce the amount of plastic found in nature.
2. Move towards a more plant-based diet.
Through the entire production process, animal-based diets require more resources than plant-based. Vegetarian diets require two-and-a-half times less the amount of land needed to grow food and a significantly less amount of water, compared to a meat-based diet. With fewer requirements for production, moving towards a more vegetarian lifestyle has the ability to reduce the amount of energy consumed.
In addition, there is a noticeable difference in the carbon footprint between both diets. When compared, greenhouse gas emissions per gram of protein for beef and lamb being 250 times the amount of emissions per gram of legumes. Poultry has a significantly less amount of emissions than red meat. If everyone were to replace meat and dairy products with plant-based foods, the cuts in animal products have the potential to create a 49 percent drop in greenhouse emissions.
3. Switch to LED lightbulbs.
LED bulbs efficiently convert 95% of used power into light, limiting the amount of heat build-up in a room. In comparison, incandescents lightbulbs lose 25 times more energy as heat. Choosing to use LED bulbs can decrease the amount of electricity needed to power light fixtures and the amount of energy needed for air conditioning purposes. In addition, it lasts up to 40 times longer than a typical incandescent light bulb. With the rapid adoption of LED bulbs, its durable nature can significantly reduce outputted waste into landfills.
4. Be conscious of food waste.
One-third of all food production in the world goes to waste. With each product diverted to landfills, our environment suffers. The number of resources put into production goes to waste. This includes all of the energy and water needed to nurture, harvest, and distribute both animal and plant-based foods. In addition, unconsumed foods have an astonishing impact when in landfills as well. If food waste were its own country, the decomposition of unconsumed foods would lead to it being the third largest greenhouse emitting country in the world. The only countries surpassing would be China and the United States.
When you find yourself with leftover scraps, delegate uneaten food to another purpose. For example, build a compost within your household. With this, you can curb emitted gases such as methane, enrich the soil, and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.
5. Engage with politicians.
One of the greatest platforms for environmental reform is led through politics. By engaging with government officials, you enable the ability to implement change through law and policies. If politicians listen to voters, the mass demand for climate change solutions can lead to its prioritization. You have the capability to empower your community with individuals who support environmental sustainability.
Going green takes a conscious effort. However, it’s a lot easier than you think it might be. By analyzing your daily habits, you have the ability to embrace and enable a sustainable lifestyle. While a team effort, environmental reform begins with you. By taking these small steps, we can all start to make an impact on making the world a more sustainable place.
Avery is a writer for the Energy section and a Material Science and Engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.