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Now, I’m fully aware that little ol’ me telling you how to protect our environment may come across as a little grandiose, but stick with me. I promise there’ll be no proselytizing (well, maybe a little), just some easy and actionable ideas for you to take away and consider.
Many of you will already know everything on the list (the aim here isn’t to present something shockingly new) and some of you may actually be doing them all, which is fantastic. But, and it’s a big but, not everyone is aware of just how much of an impact their day-to-day lives has on the planet.
What may seem obvious to one person can often be revelatory to another, so don’t roll your eyes ? – hit the share buttons and spread the word instead! Awareness is everything, and small changes really can make a big difference – especially if everyone does them.
So, even if you decide to adopt just a single idea from the list, or share this post with someone who does, you’ll be doing more than you were yesterday to protect the environment…and that’s an exciting thought, isn’t it?
Anyway, enough waffle, let’s dive in!
Watch what you eat
Right, let’s start off by preaching to the converted, shall we? ?
There’s no doubt about it, what we eat has a huge impact on our planet. Switching over to a whole food, plant-based diet is probably the single biggest thing you can do to protect our environment.
Animal agriculture is hugely destructive and the choices we make at the store really can make a difference on a global scale. Everything from our water supplies through to the air that we breathe is affected by the food industry, so making the right decisions when we shop is vital to the health of our planet.
Even if you’re already vegan, could you do more? Could you buy more locally, for example? Really thinking about every stage of the food production process can lead us to some environmental epiphanies. What could you improve on?
Reduce your waste
Reducing your waste may seem like a, ahem, throwaway comment, but it’s an area in which we could probably all improve upon.
The amount of waste each of us produces over the course of a year is nothing short of phenomenal, and yet very few of us stop to think about it. Why? Well, largely because we don’t have to deal with it. Most of us simply bag it up and wait for someone to take it away.
That, however, is the problem – there is no away. All of the stuff we throw “away” has to go somewhere, so reducing the amount of waste we create in the first place is a great way to help protect our environment.
This doesn’t necessarily have to mean huge changes, either. Small things such as committing to using canvas shopping bags or reusable coffee cups can all make a big difference to the overall amount of waste we create.
It’s all about being mindful of our actions. Next time you’re out shopping, think about what you’re placing in your basket. Is there a loose alternative to the plastic wrapped fruit you’ve picked up?
Or, do you usually pick up one of those see-through plastic bags at the store when you’re buying fresh produce? Chances are you don’t need to, especially if you’re buying stuff like limes or oranges. They have their own wrapping, after all.
We’ve all been conditioned into not thinking about such things, but I reckon it’s about time we bucked the trend. Are you with me?
For some seriously hardcore waste reduction inspiration, check out this video from Lauren Singer:
Start a compost heap
While we’re on the subject of waste, starting a compost heap is absolutely one of the best things I’ve done recently, and I suggest you do it too. It’s ridiculously easy to do and, dare I say it, fun – especially if you’ve got kids.
How does this help protect the environment? Well, there’s a few ways, actually.
First off, reducing the amount of biodegradable waste we send to landfill is a good thing. It’s a fairly obvious assumption to make that, as biodegradable material breaks down naturally, sending it to landfill isn’t a problem…but it is.
Why? Well, when all of that organic matter gets dumped in landfill, much of it gets trapped underneath all manner of other waste, and that’s bad news. When trapped, biodegradable material creates methane as it breaks down, and we all know how bad that greenhouse gas is for the environment, don’t we?
Composting your own food waste and other biodegradable materials such as tissues (and, my personal favorite, shredded junk mail!) allows the waste to aerate as it decomposes, which lessens the amount of methane created.
This is a big result from a small action, but the impact home composting has on the environment doesn’t stop there.
Imagine if lots of your neighbors got in on the composting trend, too. What impact would that have? Fewer garbage trucks on the streets and the knock-on effect they have on the planet is one thing to consider, for sure.
Then there’s the fact that you’ll be getting free nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden, and that means less packaging as you’ll no longer need to buy it. Not only that, homemade compost is also brilliant for your soil’s pH levels, which means hardier plants and less disease – naturally!
What’s not to like? If you’ve got a yard or garden, I seriously recommend you start composting ASAP!
Don’t rely on standby
Electrical appliances such as washing machines, microwaves, and PCs are part of everyday life for most of us these days, and that can be a problem.
As soon as something becomes as ubiquitous as a TV set or cell phone, we begin to take them for granted and forget about the impact these gadgets can have on the planet in both the short- and long-term.
Because we’re just concentrating on how to protect our environment here, I’ll swerve the numerous debates over tech’s impact on society, and concentrate solely on energy. Vampire energy, to be precise.
Did you know that, on average, between 5 and 10% of residential electricity is consumed by electrical products left on standby? That’s a fair amount of energy being used on things that aren’t being used!
What can we do to lower this wastage? Switch stuff off. Like, properly off. No standby lights, no sleep mode, nothing. Take the plug out of the wall if you have to!
Similar rules apply to charging gadgetry. Only leave things on charge until the battery is full, no longer. Leaving things like tablets, laptops, and cell phones on charge once the battery is full of juice is wasteful and potentially damaging to the device, too.
Charge things up before you go to bed, not overnight, and switch everything off. Off off.
One exception to this rule is radiant heating. If you have electric underfloor heating installed at home, it can actually be more energy efficient to leave it on low constantly, rather than having to heat up those ice cold tiles every morning.
Put your best foot forward
While this may not be feasible for everyone, for those that can, lowering our dependence on fossil fuel powered transport is another easy way to lessen the impact we’re having on the planet.
Opting to walk or cycle instead of jumping in our cars can have a massive impact on not only the environment, but on us as well!
Did you know that car exhaust is often cited as a leading cause of cancer, asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema in our major cities? Some people believe that car emissions can even cause birth defects.
There’s not a lot of good that comes from burning fossil fuels, that’s for sure, so ditching the car whenever you can is a positive move. Plus, both walking and cycling are great ways to get a little more exercise, and you’ll save money on gas, too.
What about if your commute is too far to walk? Well, could you make a commitment to use public transport instead of your vehicle? Could you set up a carpool?
Think of ways to reduce the amount of time you spend behind the wheel and you’ll be doing both the planet and your health a whole lot of good.
That’s how to protect our environment in 2021…and beyond!
There you go! I told you they would be doable, didn’t I?
Don’t just stop at these, though. Tell me what other changes you’re going to be making in 2021 by dropping a comment in the box below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention.
She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living. Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
Lisa lives in Sussex with her husband and their three-legged wonder dog, Mable.