Being aware of the impact your lifestyle has on the environment isn’t always as difficult as it sounds when you first consider the problem. It’s not all about sacrificing comfort and going off to live in a cave. Matter of fact, it’s not at all about living in a cave. If you want to be more environmentally conscious, try these simple steps to get things moving.
1. Be more aware of the resources you’re using.
Just take a little time and think about what you’re using when you do things in your daily life. How much electricity and water do you use in a day? How much gas do you use? How much stuff do you buy?
Awareness may not sound like much, but it’s the first step in taking action to decrease your use of resources, especially the ones that aren’t renewable.
2. Find ways to cut back on the resources you use.
Once you’ve become more aware of the resources you use, you can also consider ways to cut back on what you use. Not only is this likely to be better for the environment, using fewer resources usually saves you money in the long run and often the short run.
It’s not all about getting off the grid or things like that. Such things are beyond what many can afford, although if you can make it, it’s not a bad choice. It’s about looking at what works for you, such as replacing light bulbs with more efficient bulbs, turning lights and electronics off when they’re not in use, carpooling or using public transportation, shopping less, taking shorter showers, things like that. Things that fit into your budget.
Reducing is the most important step, but after that comes the reuse of the resources you already have. This can be as simple as finding a new use for that glass jar the spaghetti sauce came in or using an empty gallon jug for watering plants in the garden. You could even make a reusable shopping bag out of an old pair of jeans.
The point to reusing things is to remember that just because something has served its original purpose doesn’t mean it’s garbage already. Think about other ways you could reuse things before you throw them out or even send them for recycling.
Consider buying some products specifically because they can be reused, rather than buying single use products over and over again. Water bottles are a great example of this. Drinking water is a great, healthy habit, but buying bottled water is not. Not only are the bottles wasteful, bottled water is less regulated than your tap water in most places, and may not be as good for you as you think. Get a water filter if you really need filtered water, and carry a reusable water bottle with you. A good quality one will save you money over the cost of buying bottled water.
Also consider a good quality reusable shopping bag. This won’t save you money if you aren’t charged for paper or plastic bags by the store, but just think about how fast bags add up in your home. That’s a lot of waste you can prevent.
Reducing and reusing your use of resources is important, but we all have to use some resources. There’s no way around that as long as we’re alive. What you need to consider is how to allow resources to be reused when possible.
Recycling is much easier now in many communities than it was even a few years ago. Large recycling bins are more common now, and you often no longer even need to sort your recyclables to have them picked up. Pay attention to what can be recycled in your community, as not every one has the same rules.
If recycling isn’t easy in your community, find out what it takes to get the job done. If you have to drive to a recycling facility, decide how often it’s worth it to you, and how you can store recyclable materials until that time.
Particularly important is to pay attention to how you dispose of electronic waste and hazardous waste such as old paint, certain types of batteries and so forth. It cannot just be disposed of in the trash. Many communities have particular places or particular days where they will allow you to bring in electronic waste such as old computers, televisions and so forth, or for the disposal of hazardous wastes. Some of these can be recycled in this way, while others need more careful disposal.
5. Get outside.
You won’t completely appreciate the environment if you don’t get out into it. Go for a hike, head out to the beach, even walk around your own neighborhood. Get out and enjoy yourself outdoors.
This is especially important to do as a family when you have kids. If you’re trying to be more environmentally conscious, then you’re probably trying to teach them the same, and how are they going to understand what they’re protecting if they don’t see enough of it?