Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
Everyone Is Responsible
Each person has a role to play in protecting and preserving the planet, and small things matter. It might seem that the actions of a single person would be of little consequence. But if everyone does their part, it can have a big impact on Earth's future.
Here are 9 things you can do to nurture planet earth and protect her from harm.
Every week people toss millions of newspapers and they end up in the environment. Imagine how much better off the planet would be if everyone recycled their paper. If each person in the United States recycled just one newspaper a week, over 10 million trees would be saved from the landfill.
Get to know your local recycling centers and what they accept. Then recycle what you can. Most centers will recycle clothing, glass, and paper items.
The Earth is what we all have in common.
— Wendell Berry, novelist
2. Replace Items Only When Needed and Buy More Secondhand
Did you know 140,000 tons of waste gets dumped in landfills each year? It would be better for the environment to use this recycled material instead. Think of how much clothing humans discard each season, some of which they never wore. Save resources by buying fewer new clothes and by visiting secondhand shops that sell gently used clothing.
Reusing items that would otherwise be discarded keeps them out of landfills where they could potentially leak into the water supply and harm ecosystems. Donating items you no longer need to a charity does, too.
3. Less Packaging and More Environmentally Friendly Containers
The more packaging a product has, the more garbage it creates. Select items with less packaging or no packaging at all. Plastic recyclable containers are another alternative. For example, bulk bins are a viable alternative to buying pre-packaged staples. Some stores will allow you to bring your own packaging to fill with bulk items.
Avoid buying items in plastic containers and opt for glass and metal cans and jars instead. Plastic isn't only harmful to the environment; it also contains resins, like BPA (bisphenol A), that may be harmful to your health. Some studies show BPA disrupts hormones in the body and is linked with infertility in animals.
Don't forget to bring your own cloth shopping bag to the grocery store, too!
4. Less Meat and More Plants
More than two billion animals are slaughtered each year for food. If each person in the United States were to reduce their meat consumption by just a fraction of a pound, enough additional land area would be freed up to house all the people who need more land.
Be mindful of how you cook as well. Microwaves use more energy than most other kitchen appliances (including refrigerators and freezers). If you live alone, or with just one other person, look for a model that generates less power, and uses less electricity.
Another option is to use your microwave oven for as few things as possible . Try cooking items in the oven or on the stovetop instead of using it to reheat leftovers.
5. Public Transportation, Walk or Cycle
Every day, millions of people drive alone in their cars to work or school. This not only wastes energy, but also produces an enormous amount of greenhouse gases. If you can use public transportation or walk or ride a bike, you can help reduce pollution and conserve resources.
Plus, cycling and walking gives you time in nature, which is good for mental and physical health. It's a win-win for you and the environment!
You can also reduce climate change by driving less or buy a fuel-efficient car. Take turns driving on long trips and look into carpooling or vanpooling with a small group of friends. Everyone benefits, including the planet.
6. Support Green Businesses
Supporting green businesses means you're not only making the environment healthier, but also boosting your local economy. You'll be doing good for the planet and getting cool stuff in the process! Humans may not be able to reverse the effects of global warming but they can reduce the damage by supporting green businesses and products.
Supporting green businesses not only helps lower the environmental impact of that business, it also makes your own life more sustainable and helps bring the message of environmental responsibility to the forefront.
7. Lobby for Regulations That Protect the Planet
Ask your state and city officials to implement programs that promote energy efficiency during construction, as well as ordinances to reduce waste. Lobbying for legislation to protect the planet can be an intimidating process, particularly for those who aren't well versed in the political system, but it's an important step for change.
8. Plant a Tree
Plants need carbon dioxide to grow. By planting trees, you are removing a harmful greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) and making a contribution to the environment. Trees are also beautiful and provide many benefits, including oxygen, shade when you're hot, fruits and other products that you can eat or sell, and materials that can be used for many purposes including building materials. Plus, they absorb carbon dioxide and provide oxygen for us to breathe.
9. Do Small Environmentally Friendly Things Every Day
Here are some other Earth-friendly tips for making a contribution to saving the environment:
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Flush the toilet less often.
- Keep your carbon footprint low.
- Buy the least number of items necessary for a particular project.
- Use your laptop instead of a desktop computer and save energy. Put your laptop on a docking station when it is not in use.
- Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposables. This helps reduce landfills because rechargeable batteries can be reused time and time again.
- Use nothing but cloth napkins, not paper napkins, at meals and invite friends who do the same.
- Get acquainted with the option of using solar panels to generate electricity for your home.
- Educate yourself and others about climate change and help others stay motivated.
- Buy products made of recycled materials—for example, those made from post-industrial scrap materials. These are called "recycled" or "post-consumer."
- Dumpsters.com. "Curbing America's Trash Production: Statistics and Solutions"
- "Protecting Our Planet Starts with You." oceanservice.noaa.gov/ocean/earthday.html.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.