The environment is our single biggest and most valuable resource, and we need to do everything we can do to protect it. The fact is, the environment has been depleted and destroyed by humans at a staggering rate, a rate that is not sustainable. Humans are going to continue to exist here, in growing numbers, and if we keep treating the natural world the way we are, not only will we fully destroy beautiful animals, plants, places, but we will also be severely limited in our resources, opportunities, and quality of life. We depend on the environment for everything we have: our food, our shelter, our jobs, our health, our lives. Simply, we need to keep the environment alive and well so we as a population can stay alive and well. Also, the environment isn’t a thing. It’s a vast network of a huge amount of things, all deeply interconnected. This is both the best and worst part of the situation, the best because it allows for the diversity and variety of our Earth and the resources on it, which gives us endless tools to use for our needs. It’s also simply beautiful to have all those diverse places and things. On the other hand, it’s the worst because every element in the system is connected to a plethora of other ones, so it’s simply impossible to use, alter, hurt, or help one without causing a chain reaction of other elements in the system. This is unfortunate for us humans in that we can’t think of our actions as one-layer. Everything we do echoes throughout the whole system. However, it is also an advantage because we can change one element positively and that positive change can be forwarded throughout the system. It may not feel like it, but each individual has the option to kick off that positive change everyday. If everyone does their best and helps out in the way they can, big things can happen. Here’s a list of a few easy ways you can help the environment.
Shower power! The average American takes 8.2 minute showers that use 17.2 gallons of water. The average american also showers 6 times a week. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 5,366 gallons per person per year. You may have heard of the push for 5-minute showers. This water conservation technique has been criticized for not having a big impact. However, if people took those five minute showers, the amount of gallons per person per year would drop to 3,407. That’s a 37% reduction in water usage, and 610,000,000,000 gallons saved per year in the United States. While it isn’t the biggest way to save our water, it’s something everyone can do and still adds up to a lot.
Carpool! We all feel we need to have our own separate cars, but it’s simply not necessary. If you try it out, you’ll soon see that carpooling isn’t hard at all. It can be a fun way to help out the environment, you get to meet people who live near you and go to your school, and you or your parents don’t have to drive every day. This saves gas money and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, which is one of the biggest issues facing our environment. By carpooling just twice a week, 1,600 pounds of greenhouse gases can be kept out of the air each year (South Florida Commuter Services). The great thing is you don’t need to do it every day to make a difference, even choosing one or two days a week to carpool can have an impact. This way, you can choose the days that are most convenient for you and have the option to drive separately when you need that independence. It’s a social activity and a way to reduce your impact.
Consumerism! America is a place where you are constantly being told to buy stuff, and corporations work hard to make that decision as easy and mindless as possible. Our consumer-focused economy also means that we buy more things than we need, more often than we need. This is a way to help the environment while also saving you money. A big one is food. For example, the food at Costco. Everything is wrapped in plastic and heavily packaged to appear as luxurious and unnatural as possible. Coincidentally, most of that type of stuff doesn’t happen to be very good for you either. Not buying food with a lot of packaging or in single use containers can save a lot of plastic and other waste from entering the dump and the oceans. Try buying things in bulk to decrease your need for containers, and buy some reusable ones for the stuff you do need contained. A good challenge is to try to have only 1 item in your lunch that is wrapped in plastic or has some part you’ll throw away per day. Another one is only drinking from your water bottle, thermos, or glasses for a week, so as not to use any single use beverage containers. Try to put all your liquids for those seven short days in a reusable container.
These are just three simple, easy ways you can help the environment every day, but there are endless possibilities.