When we think of the challenges that the Earth faces – and let’s be honest, most of them are man-made – it seems at times to be an uphill battle to turn it all around. But we quickly saw at the start of Covid how cities that once had been smog-filled had clean air within a few weeks of lockdowns; polluted waterways that animals had long fled had now returned and the waters themselves were clearer and not murky – the Earth seemed to bounce back and heal without human interference. With that said, when it comes to making a positive impact, every little bit does make a difference – and please remember that. Whether those steps are large, medium, or small, every single bit helps. And if every one of us makes a conscious effort to do our part – together – we can make a huge impact and perhaps start helping to turn the tide – to leave our children and their children with an Earth that has a future.
Since April is “Earth Day Month” I specifically wanted to share some the many, many ways in which we can all make a difference and be more eco-conscious. A simple Google search will literally bring to your fingertips thousands of tips of things that you can do. Here below are a few that stuck out to me, and they are all ones that I will personally strive to incorporate into my life, and I hope you will consider doing the same.
Your food and meals
One of the categories that you’ll find that pops up a lot is about your food, and it boils down to avoiding food waste. In order to do that, it is recommended that you make a grocery list before heading out to the store, and by so doing you’re also planning your week’s meals. This way, once at the store, you are organized and only get (basically) what you need that week, eliminating food waste because you’re (ideally) going to cook and consume just what you got. A few other things that are recommended is to measure ingredients carefully and follow recipes, and cook for the number of people that will be eating. Directly following that, you could also eliminate one meal per week and have a “leftover night” because you’re sure to have some leftovers. Prepare and store your food properly to ensure optimal longevity. I personally loved the tip to “ignore” all best-by and sell-by dates because they are NOT expiration dates (they’re merely suggestions, y’all) – but instead use your best judgement and smell and or taste your food. If it smells fine; it’s fine. If it tastes fine; it’s fine.
When it comes to fruit and vegetable scraps, there are so many things that you can do instead of throwing them out. When your fruits start to get a mushy you can use them for smoothies. Instead of throwing out the peels of things like celery, carrots, garlic and onion you can save them and make your own vegetable stock. And speaking of fruits and vegetables, if you’d like to take it a step further and move to a more pant-based diet, not only is it healthier for you but you will minimize your carbon footprint. (For further information about this topic in particular, read our “Vegan” article on page 36).
Another thing that my family and I do with some of our food scraps is save them for our animals. For example, instead of throwing out the butt ends of a loaf of bread, or when our bread starts to get dry and no one wants it, I feed them for my horses – my horses love bread! Likewise, when it comes to things like apples and carrots, instead of throwing them out when they’ve lost their lustre, I feed them to my horses.
Make changes around the house
When it comes to our homes, there are so many things that we can do, and here are just a few. Change all of your light bulbs to energy-efficient LED lights; install solar panels and a solar battery; make sure that your home is well-insulated for efficiency purposes; seal all of your doors and windows; unplug all devices when they are not in use to avoid “phantom electricity” from being consumed; air-dry your clothes by hanging them instead of using the dryer; and install low-flow faucets, shower heads, and toilets.
When it comes to your mode of transportation, in our area it is a little more difficult to go without a personal vehicle. But in larger cities, people can use public transportation, walk or bicycle. There is always the option to carpool when possible, something we could do in our area. But one thing that we can all do is try to be efficient in our trips, whether it be shopping, work or errands – try to eliminate unnecessary trips and plan (just like the grocery list).
The “P” word
We can’t talk about trying to make a positive environmental impact without talking about the “P” word: plastic. There’s so much that we can do here, and a number of our towns/villages/cities have already taken measures to ban the use of single-use plastic, which is awesome, but there’s always more that we can do.
Here are just a few of the things that you can do to help eliminate the use of plastic in your day-to-day life: Bring your own re-usable bags to the grocery and other stores when shopping – don’t use those single-use plastic bags. Use a reusable water bottle and fill it up at home instead of buying the single-use water bottles (they’re totally over-priced anyway!). When you order out, ask them to NOT include the plastic cutlery – you can use your own from home. When it comes to your dish, hand and laundry soaps, use the refill kind. When at the grocery, try to get the plastic-free produce and foods (I place my produce right in my shopping cart without the single-use plastic bag and then thoroughly wash my veggies when I get home).
I could totally write another thousand words with more tips, but as you see with this brief list, there are so many things that we can each do to make an impact. The above are not that hard to do, and it may not seem like a lot if only one or two of us do these things, but just imagine if we all do it – what an incredible difference we can all make – together! Let’s be the change that we want to see.