You know that it is important that we all work together to save our planet, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. We all know that global warming is upon us on a massive scale, and that pesticides and hormones are hurting us on an individual level. Now, as the holidays of 2011 become a memory and our New Year’s resolutions start to fade, this is the perfect time to take a moment to re-evaluate how YOU can make changes to move towards greener living in 2012.
Green around the World You are not the only one wondering how you, yourself (or your small business) can make a real difference in such a vast world. The truth is that many people just like you – and people very different from you around the world – all want to make that difference. If each of us does our part, together we will forge real change, starting with grass roots efforts in our own lives.
The Worldwatch Institute has its own vision for a sustainable world, much like yours. The Go Green Conference held in March is striving to help people find ways to green in up for the new year. News giants like ABC, the New York Times and more are ripe with stories on going green. People are motivated. People are building off the efforts of each other. Your efforts are not alone and together these small steps will help our planet to reap big, green rewards. So, let’s look at how you can take your own steps, steps that will be added to those of others around the Earth to equal monumental progress.
Five Simple Steps to Getting Started Following are five ideas for how you can make small changes that can lead to big impacts.
1) Recycle Today we have the ability to recycle so much, and it has become so easy. Grocery stores offer recycling containers for plastic bags, paper bags, egg cartons and more. Home improvement stores offer recycling for batteries (disposable and rechargeable), cell phones and other electronics and machines. Most residential garbage pick-up hauls away plastic bottles, newspaper and more to be recycled. To not recycle is really just sheer laziness.
2) Reduce and reuse. As the previous paragraph says, recycling is important and easy. However, reducing and reusing is even better, because recycling does require electricity, water and other resources to turn one old item into some other new item. When possible reduce your consumption altogether and reuse materials. Water is a great example of this, as our country dumps millions of used water bottles into the trash each year. By using refillable bottles and filtered tap water we save the environment in a variety of ways.
3) Turn down the lights. Lighting is one of the highest energy consumers for most people in developed countries, particularly for commercial locations. Turning off lights when not in use, dimming lights to only necessary levels, and using motion sensors to ensure lights are turned off when no people are around are simple ways to decrease energy consumption. You can see this in action with many grocery stores today as more stores are installing motion sensing lights that come on only if a customer is in that aisle or in front of that particular freezer case. Great places to install these sensors include laundry rooms, break rooms, electrical rooms, storage closets and other places that people run into and out of quickly, though almost any room can benefit from them.
4) Support organic farming. Eating organic is being increasingly recognized as a necessary part of developing a healthy human body. Non-organic consumables are simply laden with pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics, hormones and more. Studies have shown that removing these chemicals from a person’s diet can reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety and anger, as well as keep them more physically healthy.
5) Reduce the meat in your diet This may be a new one that hasn’t shown up on other eco lists that you’ve read, but it is actually really important. It’s not about PETA or animal treatment, but about resources. It takes far, far more energy to create a pound of meat than it does to create a pound of vegetables. Meat is one of the least efficient foods for the human body to create energy, yet it takes the most energy to create the meat for consumption. This means that if you eat vegetarian at least a few times a week you are reducing the use of water and the emission of greenhouse gasses significantly.
Bring it Home Of course, these five steps are just that… five out of hundreds of possible steps. This gives you a place to start, a way to ease into a greener year. Once these steps become comfortable, look for more ways that you can green your world. With dedication, commitment and a little willpower, we can all become more eco-friendly and build a stronger world.