In elementary school, everyone learns the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. While during the next month after learning the lesson, the R’s are practiced, their usage becomes less and less, until they are almost completely forgotten. It is important to know how to take measures to protect the environment throughout daily activities. Here are some simple ways to do this at different locations:
At the supermarket
- Take a look at the packaging: Individually wrapped goods contain more plastic than those sold in bulk, so consider purchasing bulk items instead. In fact, 45% of landfills are littered with plastic from packaging items. Another bonus, items bought in bulk typically cost less than those individually packaged.
- Cut down on meats: Agricultural practices involving meat and pork damage the environment more than those with fish and poultry. Cattle ranching requires about 160 times more land and produce around 11 times more greenhouse emissions and water usage in comparison to poultry and fishing.
- Use reusable bags: Plastic bags take 15-1,000 years to decompose in landfills. Additionally, over 100,00 sea turtles die annually by mistaking plastic bags as food. By using reusable shopping bags, plastic bags and all the negative impacts that go along with them can become a thing of the past. Reusable bags most often can be purchased at supermarkets as well as online retailers like amazon.com.
- Donate your trash, it’s another man’s treasure: Instead of throwing away cans of unused food collecting dust in the pantry, donate them to a homeless shelter. Not only does this prevent food from being thrown away, it also allows shelters to spend money in another, equally needed, place. The Broward Outreach Center is a 20-minute car ride from the school, found at 22056 Scott St, Hollywood, FL 33020.
- Reusable water bottles: Using washable water bottles allows for less plastic being released into the environment. Similar to the ease of just picking up a plastic bottle, have reusable bottles ready by filling them up in the beginning of the week. Metal bottles cost about $15, but prices fluctuate based on the material its made with and the different styles (straw, screw top, etc). You can buy them at your local store or online retailers, such as SwellBottle.
- Read the labels of your cleaning products: Certain cleaning products contain damaging chemicals to the environment. For example, according to Homeguides, when large quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia enter waterways through toilet cleaners, dense vegetation clogs can form, making the water no longer suitable for drinking cooking, or bathing. Check out this article from Oprah’s magazine to read about seven safe products and their efficiency.
- Take electronic notes: By taking notes on iPads, paper note usage diminishes, allowing for fewer trees to be chopped down for something that will be thrown away after the year is done. In fact, more than 90 million tons of paper is wasted on note-taking in the United States alone. This equates to 700 pounds of paper, weighted at approximately 5 grams per sheet.
- Print efficiently: When printing assignments, print on both sides of paper. This allows for less paper usage and less things to carry in backpacks, making them lighter.
Wherever and whenever
- Conserve electricity: Turn off the lights when leaving a room. Only 10% of energy given off light bulbs is light energy, while the other 90% is heat energy. By turning off lights, not only will energy be saved, but also rooms will be cooler without turning on the AC.
- Save water: A major global concern is the future of water. Some countries, like Kuwait, are even investing in desalination technologies for protection of water for future generations. Only pour as much water as you know you will drink, especially at athletic events. So many half-full water bottles end up tossed into the trash.
- Trash: Place recyclable goods in the the recycling can whenever and wherever. While it may not seem like much, according to Recycle Across America, recycling one ton of plastic bottles saves the same amount of energy as a two person household uses in one year.
The immense amount of good that can be done to the environment greatly outweighs the minimal work required to do it. Let’s further efforts to help the environment, one change at a time.