Protecting The Only Home God Gave Us!
When I was younger, I remember my parents always telling me that God made the world, but He only made one of them, so we needed to take care of it. From a young age, I was taught about garbage and the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle model. In fact, I vividly remember that every time I threw something away that was “recyclable” my mother would say “stop right there, that is recyclable young lady.”
As I continued to grow older and wiser, taking care of the Earth has become one of my greatest passions and loves. I try to reduce my carbon footprint any chance I get. I am an avid recycler, not a fan of plastic water bottle use, and every Earth Day I walk around my neighborhoods and pick up trash. Last year, I filled over two garbage bins of just trash I picked up around my community.
Together, we must get better at taking care of the only home that God gave us. Together, we can make this world a more beautiful, cleaner place especially for the ones that come in after us.
Things I have done and changed in my personal life that have helped clean up our Earth home and might help you and your family also:
1. If you are someone who drinks water out of a plastic bottle STOP if you can. One billion plastic water bottles are sent to landfills every year and they take 700 years to dissolve. (Not to mention that 80% of plastic water bottles are not even getting recycled.)
a. Instead, purchase an insulated water bottle that will keep your beverages hot and cold longer. You will spend a little more money, but they will last you forever, and are very easy to clean. I found mine at Costco and Amazon. The ones from Costco come in a 2-pack which is even better. (Make sure the bottles are BPA Free)
b. If you do not like the taste of your water, research faucet filters or a reverse osmosis system that will make your water taste amazing. Again, you will spend a little more money upfront but they will last you forever. Another way to make your water taste better is infuse it with fruit. You will be amazed at how refreshing water tastes with a couple Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Cucumbers, and even mint leaves.
c. If you still choose to stick with water in disposable bottles, try purchasing the water in cardboard containers so it will break down and not be as harmful to the environment.
d. Lastly, if you are still going to drink out of plastic bottles, please, please, please recycle them!
2. Similar to plastic water bottles, are plastic straws. Plastic straws are extremely dangerous. When they break into smaller particles, they release chemicals into the soil, air, and water that are harmful to animals, plants, people, and the overall environment.
a. Straws are not biodegradable, and out of the 8,300 million metric tons (and counting) that have been produced, only a mere 9% of them have been recycled. As stated before, they are extremely harmful, especially to ocean wildlife. An estimated 800 different species are affected by ocean plastic pollution and at least 100,000 marine mammals die every year as a direct result of plastic debris. Sea Turtles are greatly affected by plastic straws. Lastly, around 90% of seabirds have ingested some kind of plastic from the ocean, and by the year 2050, 99% of oceanic species could be affected.
b. So what is a more eco-friendly way we can help protect our Earth and Ocean life? First, you can purchase reusable straws that are made of glass, stainless steel, Bamboo, or Silicone that are very cheap and can be taken anywhere with you. I purchased mine from Grove.com, but Amazon has a ton of options. I take my straws everywhere with me and anytime I am at a restaurant I politely decline a plastic straw and insert my own or just not use one. They are easy to clean, and you can get them in an assortment of colors! You can also purchase biodegradable paper straws. These are not my favorite as they break down relatively quickly and it becomes hard to drink out of them. A lot of restaurants are changing to these types of straws.
3. A very simple way you can help the environment is to use long-lasting, energy-efficient light bulbs. Energy efficient light bulbs reduce greenhouse emissions, and ALWAYS, ALWAYS remember to turn off lights when you leave a room. If you don’t need a light on, turn it off. If you are able to read, write, work, and do your daily chores/tasks with the lights off, choose that option.
4. Another simple way you can help the environment, invest in reusable shopping bags to help cut down on the plastic bag use that are given to you at the grocery stores. If you need to use plastic bags, make sure you reuse them or recycle them when you get home.
5. Don’t send chemicals into our waterways. Instead, choose non-toxic chemicals in your home and office. This includes the sunscreen, make-up, hand soap, and body/face cleansers that we use daily. Make sure they are non-toxic, organic, and coral reef safe. Our Ocean Wildlife will thank you. Using non-toxic cleaners do as good a job, if not better, than toxic cleaners like bleach, Lysol, or Clorox wipes and your body with thank you too as you aren’t breathing in all those toxic fumes that are harmful to our bodies.
6. Save water when possible. Water is wasted more frequently than we can see. Turn off the faucet as you are brushing your teeth. Do not turn on the shower until you’re ready to get in. Try to limit your water usage as you wash dishes. If you can avoid the dishwasher that helps too! On average, it takes 5-7 gallons every time the toilet is flushed, (these are in toilets that were made before 1982), and around 17 gallons when you take an 8-minute shower. (The average shower is 10 minutes.) I’m not saying don’t flush the toilet…that’s gross! But if you can shower every other day and/or invest in a water-saving toilet or shower-head, these can help conserve water and the environment.
7. Choose Sustainable whenever you can. Purchase glass containers to store your food in rather than plastic. If you don’t currently have a recycling pick-up service at your residence or place of employment, call your local garbage company, ask if they have one, and add the service if possible. If your community has a recycling plant, use it. Growing up in the country, we didn’t have a recycling service, but we had a plant nearby, so we took our own. With seven people in the house, it wasn’t always pretty, but it was fun to go to the plant and recycle everything ourselves. In 2020, I realized that my place of employment didn’t have a recycling bin, so I called and had one delivered. I am recycling so much I may need them to drop off a second one!
8. Plant a tree. Trees provide food and oxygen. They help save energy, clean the air, and help combat climate change. Plus, they are beautiful!
9. Volunteer and Educate. You can have a fun family outing and volunteer for cleanups in your community, or volunteer in protecting your watershed too. Volunteering to help clean up your community will also help educate your children on the importance of keeping the only home that God gave us clean and beautiful. Also, Educate! Educate! Educate! When you further your own education, you can help others understand the importance and value of our natural resources. Just like my parents did when I was younger, every time I go to throw away something, I can hear my mother in my head saying, “That’s recyclable.”
10. Finally, If you can, Eat Vegan!! I know this isn’t an option for most, but by eating vegan and eliminating the amount of meat, fish, and dairy you eat, you can help cut the greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy consumption. You can reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73% just by incorporating a vegan diet! If going vegan isn’t an option, choose sustainable food that will not only help the environment but your health too. Grass fed, organic meat, wild caught fish ONLY, and organic, fresh fruits and vegetables. If you go out to eat, or are just picking something up to take home, go in to order your food rather than sitting idle in your car in the drive-through. You can also grow your own fruits and veggies or support your local farmer’s market!
I know some of these options are easier than others, however, I wanted to share as many tips as I could think of without boring you and offer a little education to boot. Doing just one of these will help our environment and Earth greatly. As we continue to go through life, if we collectively choose not to take care of our home, there won’t be a home for future generations. Once animals/mammals are extinct, they are gone forever.
I’d love to hear what you and your family do during Earth Day Week or what you do during the year to help reduce our Carbon Footprint.
Happy Earth Day, Friends! I hope it’s a beautiful week for you!