Going Green: An Eco Friendly 2016
More people than ever are becoming conscious of their effect on the community and planet. It may have been the classic “An Inconvenient Truth”, reading up online, or even DiCaprio’s impassioned speech at the Oscars. Whatever the reason, many of us are now aiming to take some control over the way we treat the planet. There are often contradictory suggestions out there and some heated debates. So much so, that it can be offputting to become involved at all. But don’t be discouraged. Small steps are better than total inaction, and everyone had to start somewhere. There are many ways you can take action with just a few small tweaks to your daily routine and activities. Over time and with more participants, even minimal changes can have an astronomical impact. Go Green!
The impact of the meat and dairy industry on the planet have been widely discussed. It’s a hot topic with a lot of sensitivity surrounding it. Documentaries like “Cowspiracy” and “Forks Over Knives” exposed some of the industry's secretive practices. Many people turned vegetarian or vegan as a result. However, it is important to consider steps that are sustainable in your own lifestyle and circumstances. The BBC recently wrote that becoming eco-friendly would largely involve consuming less meat than most of us do, but start slowly. Many people have incorporated a vegetarian day into their weekly routine, or even one vegetarian meal a day out of three. Not only is this widely reported as having a positive impact on your personal health, but it contributes to the health of the planet too. Staggering statistics like the fact that it requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, for example. Or how many square feet of forest must be destroyed for grazing. It can all be enough for many people to want to stop over-consuming meat and dairy. Take small, sincere steps that are right for you and you will be contributing positively.
Only a few of us are fortunate to fly frequently to exotic locations, but when booking your holiday, consider the pollution. Staying closer to home or exploring local regions can be a great way to keep costs down and also reduce the pollution of air travel. If you are travelling abroad, consider offsetting the pollution by supporting conservation sites. Many companies and locations emphasise eco-awareness like www.thandaisland.com and sanctuaries like the WWF. Investigate similar options so that you can enjoy that exotic destination but still do something for the planet.
At home is actually where we can make our biggest impact. Because it is an area that we spend a lot of our time, it is often an area where we spend a lot of energy. Electrical and otherwise! Investing in a composting system outside or a composting bin in the kitchen can be a perfect way to make use of waste. Especially if we have leftovers or peel from newly large amount of vegetables we’re eating! You might be surprised by the varied amount of items that you can relax. Some of them are quite unexpected to most people including pots, pans, scrap metals and even the phonebook! Investigate the regulations in your local area and have a good old-fashioned Spring clean. Not only will you have more room but you will be doing your bit for the environment. Ensure that you turn off electrical items that are not being used. Standby mode may be convenient but it is surprisingly high in energy consumption. Consider switching to eco-friendly bulbs too and even lighting candles and tea lights. You’ll save money on electricity and create a cosy, inviting atmosphere too! One of the most overlooked aspects of saving energy is attention to water. If you have a dishwasher, skip the initial rinsing of the dishes. Studies show that this saves up to an incredible 20 gallons of water each load! Not only are you saving water, one of the planet’s most precious natural resources. You’re also saving the energy and time it takes to heat the water if you use warm water to rinse. Within the same theme, baths are luxurious but should be considered just that: a luxury. The energy and water they use is significantly higher than a shower and should be limited if you’re trying to go green. Taking showers (and shorter showers especially) can be a far more eco-friendly alternative. In the Western world in particular, it is arguably not ingrained to consider water precious and limited. Change your attitude and you’ll change your behaviour.
Many workplaces are making a conscious effort to become more eco-friendly. This can extend to policy issues such as only heating the office at certain times of day or in the year. Or even structural changes in the building like solar panels or better insulation to minimise energy wastage. There can be an opportunity to launch an initiative like “Walk Or Cycle to Work Week” or hold charity days. The workplace can be the perfect environment for inspiring change and contributing to the community. It necessarily gathers different types of people together and they can all make a difference. If, like many of us, you need a hearty dose of caffeine to stay alert in the working day, invest in a reusable coffee cup. Many companies actually offer a discount for customers who bring their own cup and it keeps your drink warmer for longer. Recycling is a great alternative, but be aware that recycling takes energy too. Better to reuse where possible. Ensure that you are being eco-friendly with your use of electronics. Most workplaces involve technology of some kind whether computers, photocopiers, telephones and more. Repair items where possible and recycle others. Many companies offer recycling for mobile phones, laptops, and even batteries. The aim should be that your workplace is offsetting the amount of waste it produces. Paper can be an enormous area of waste for many companies. Universities and colleges in particular report a vast use of paper and have been making a concerted effort to go “electronic”. Important documents, statements, and contracts are often handled online. There has been a large reduction in paper waste as a result. Many companies are following suit and you can too on the micro level. Be sure to write right up to the edges of your paper and use both sides. Switch from receiving paper statements and invoices to electronic where possible. Use recycled paper where paper is unavoidable. Many companies actually add a logo or tagline to the paper to make others aware that it is recycled. It often encourages others to follow suit!