An issue as huge as the future of the planet can become overwhelming to the point where all you want to do is curl up on the couch and binge watch a new Netflix series—trust us, we’ve been there. But just like approaching a messy room, the important thing is to simply begin. To take a first step toward easing the strain your actions place on the earth is to make a bold, optimistic move toward empowerment and against complacency. We all have the power to change our environment and any of these ten steps is a solid place to start.
Drive a low emission vehicle.
Walk or bike when possible. Find out if your city has a bike rental program like Citi bike in New York.
Switch to reusable drinking bottles and grocery bags.
Eliminating plastic waste from bags and bottles is a crucial step toward sustainability. Leave your reusable bags in the car so you don’t have to remember to pack them, and carry a stainless steel water bottle wherever you go, so you won’t be tempted to pay $5.00 for a liter of Poland Springs.
Quit fast fashion.
Instead of buying cheap new clothes every month or two, wait to do your clothes shopping until you’re ready to purchase just a few higher quality items. Ultimately, this will probably save you money in the long run, and it will definitely reduce the amount of synthetic fibers hanging out in landfills.
Turn off lights and devices when you leave the room.
Never leave the fan or TV running when you move to a new room, and unplug smaller devices like coffee makers, computer chargers, and hair dryers when they aren’t in use.
Switch to Energy Star appliances.
In some states you can get a tax rebate for switching to lower emissions washing machines and dishwashers. For more tips on how to make your home closer to carbon neutral, visit this handy site.
Upgrade your bathroom habits.
Install a high efficiency shower-head, quit running the faucet when you brush your teeth, and use LED night lights after dark to avoid having to turn on the overheads every time you step into the bathroom to pee. And ladies, switch to a menstrual cup, like the Diva Cup, and say goodbye to all those pads and tampons. Menstrual cups can be reused for years, so you don’t have to pay every month for the privilege of getting your period, and Mother Earth doesn’t have to bear the burden of so much cotton and plastic waste.
Stock up on succulents.
Buy local foods—or grow your own.
We’re not suggesting you become a full-on farmer, but consider setting up a winter garden to supply yourself with year-round herbs and microgreens. Additionally, look into Community Supported Agriculture programs in your area. You may save money by subscribing to a weekly vegetable farm delivery box. As an added bonus, the variety of produce may inspire you to break out of your usual cooking patterns and discover new recipes.
Increase your number of meatless meals.
Animal agriculture accounts for the single greatest carbon release into the atmosphere, according to the U.N. As The Guardian noted, “The second most important lifestyle change is to eat less meat, with particular emphasis on meals containing beef and lamb. Cows and sheep emit large quantities of methane, a powerful global warming gas.”
Stop receiving junk mail.
All that paper waste is a nuisance as well as a planetary burden. These simple steps from Real Simple, can help end all the unwanted mail. “Go to optoutprescreen.com to stop receiving pre-approved credit card offers and sign up on catalogchoice.org to reduce the amount of unsolicited catalogs sent to you.”