Being eco-friendly is not to be fashionable. Rather it’s an important way to help protect the planet and use the resources that are available wisely. For example, we all know that water is a precious resource. Yet, on average, we unconsciously waste some 30 gallons of water every day!
With climate change affecting our planet, disasters becoming worse because of our human-made structures and wildlife dying due to our excess of waste, we must find ways to be more eco-friendly in our everyday life.
1. Stop using single-use plastics
One of the worse problems that we are facing today is plastic pollution. We can find plastic debris in almost all natural environments but especially in our oceans. Of the 300 million tons of plastics that we produce each year, 8 million tons end up in the ocean. The main culprit is single-use plastics like bags, straws and packaging.
Animals often confuse them with food and eat them, choking, getting entangled and eventually dying. So, we must stop using single-use plastics as they not only affect wildlife but can take hundreds to thousands of years to decompose. And throughout the process, they break down into micro-plastics that are far more dangerous as they are toxic.
2. Harvest rainwater and use more grey water
Likewise, we must definitely reduce our water use. While some of us enjoy watering our lawn with potable water just to get that lush, green carpet like ground, in many countries like Uganda, Papua New Guinea, and Eritrea people have very limited access to clean water.
In line with this, we must harvest rainwater and use grey water for purposes like lawn irrigation, car washing and other processes that do not require potable water. We can easily capture rainwater through drains and tanks or install professional equipment. In the same manner, we can re-use grey water, for e.g. water from sinks and tubs for such tasks.
3. Support local businesses
The world is now a small place with technological advances. We can buy products from China right in front of our desk in South Africa. And with express delivery, we receive our items in a matter of time. But transportation means releasing so much carbon dioxide along the way while products are often heavily packed for protection.
By supporting local suppliers and manufacturers we decrease the environmental stress associated with these activities. We can also inquire about the manufacture of products locally such as organic foods. In this way, we encourage local businesses to go for green moves like using hand-made products instead of cheap, commercial ones.
4. Reduce your amount of waste
As a matter of fact, today we consume a lot more resources whether it’s food, clothes, water and space. Actually, the richest 20% of the world’s population consume 80% of the resources and goods from the Earth. As a result, we produce so much waste from food to plastic to toxic electronic waste. Right now, we generate some 2.01 billion tons of municipal waste every year, and 33% is not disposed of safely.
Hence, we must decrease the amount of waste that we produce. We should buy less-packaged products and only when we need them. We can also compost organic materials at home like kitchen scrap and encourage recycling of plastic, paper and glass.
5. Make repairs and upcycle into new things
In line with this, we should avoid throwing away old things like clothes, bags and shoes and make repairs instead. To make just one cotton shirt, it takes some 2,700 liters of water and clothes can take more than 200 years to decompose. As a matter of fact, Americans throw away 14 million tons of clothing each year with 84% ending up in landfills or incinerated.
But there is so much more that we can do with broken and damaged things. We can upcycle old items into new ones like empty containers into flower pots. We can use broken pots as art artefacts in our gardens. The list just goes on depending on our creativity.
6. Reduce the use of fossil fuels
The amount of energy that we use today has a direct impact on our environment. Energy, whether it is to drive cars, to produce electricity or to run gadgets, comes mostly from fossil fuels. When we burn these fossil fuels to make electricity, several greenhouse gases go into the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide.
Since the industrial times, we see that the amount of carbon dioxide gas been rising dangerously. In the 1960s, the level was 0.6 ppm per year, today it 2.3 ppm per year. It is this high level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere today that is causing global warming and thus climate change.
Consequently, we must do all that we can to reduce the use of fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil. We must switch to alternatives like renewable sources of energy, switch off lights and gadgets when we are not using them and use energy efficient vehicles.
7. Use public transport
Likewise, we should use public transports such as trains, buses, high-speed rails and even carpool as much as we can. Though we enjoy driving our own car to work without the hassle of waiting and being in comfort, a car typically releases some 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
If we want to make a change, then we should opt for public transportation when we can. For example, to go to work, to visit places abroad and to travel short distances.
8. Travel to closer places for longer periods of time
Travelling or holiday-making is now a normal way of life for many people, especially in developed countries. With better working conditions, benefits and salaries, we can spend some time off work to rejuvenate. Yet, the aviation industry alone produces 2.4% of global human-induced carbon dioxide.
As today we have working advantages many didn’t have a few decades ago, we must use them wisely for our environment. We can travel to closer places and stay for longer periods of time. We can also choose airlines that are ecofriendly and offset the carbon travelled in green projects.
9. Eat less meat, eat more vegetables
One important way to be more eco-friendly is to cut down on our meat consumption. As a matter of fact, livestock releases 7.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year, or 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Two-thirds of these emissions come mainly from cattle as part of their digestive processes, to grow feed for them and to clear land to raise them.
Instead of eating meat four to five times a week, we can reduce it to two times a week. We can add more vegetables and greens to our diet which also improves our health. Meat alternatives like soya, jackfruits and beans are especially packed with proteins and nutrients. We can consume more of these thus varying our meals day to day.
10. Plant trees and support reforestation
Some time back, most families had different varieties of trees in their gardens. Today, most house designs focus more on architecture and lawns than trees.
Yet, we are facing the issue of climate change today because of too much carbon dioxide in our air and a substantial decrease in forest areas. Trees typically take up carbon dioxide and release fresh oxygen. What’s more, we lose millions of acres of forest every year for agriculture and illegal logging.
But trees play a very important role in our survival. So it is important for us to plant trees, support reforestation campaigns and prevent deforestation as much as we can. These trees provide food and habitats to a number of creatures, stabilize our soils thus reducing floods and provide cool areas.