Sure, you’re only one person, and most of the trash in the world isn’t your trash. Still, if we want to have any hope at all in turning things around, someone has to start throwing the trash away. “But I don’t have time to start an environmental revolution!” you might say. Fine. Neither do I. But everyone has time to chip in by cutting back on the following six things you’re doing without knowing it that are bad for the environment. It won’t take any time away from your super busy schedule, and lending a helping hand to the ecosystem that literally supports all known life in the universe is the least you can do. Ain’t nobody not got time for that.
1. Drinking Bottled Water
Bottled water is a multi-billion dollar industry, the premise of which is selling something that is free to begin with at an astronomical mark up. Furthermore, there’s nothing Evian does that a Brita can’t do just as well. Double furthermore, tap water is subjected to way more stringent federal regulations than bottled water, and it’s proven to be safer for those with an already weakened immune system. Plus! Bottled water comes in a f*cking bottle, the production of which uses over 17 million barrels of oil a year, and that’s before we even mention the amount of gasoline we use to transport those bottles to stores. Think of local water like local food.
2. Eating Too Much Meat
Speaking of water consumption, no industry uses more water than meat. About 30 percent of ALL AVAILABLE LAND IN THE WORLD goes to growing grains to feed not human beings, but to feed livestock. Every time you eat a burger, not only are you eating a cow, you are also eating every gallon of water and every piece of corn that the cow has eaten in its life. A single burger uses about 55 square feet of forest in all. Having meat now and then is totally fine, but the next time you think about going on a high animal protein, low carb diet (Paleo people, I’m looking at you) remember that if us ate mostly plant-based diets, we’d have 18% fewer greenhouse emissions due to human activity. Side note, the most greenhouse friendly meats come from pigs and poultry, which are significantly more sustainable than beef, which requires 2.500 gallons of water to produce. I don’t eat meat often, but when I do, I eat the hell out of a delicious piece of meat.
3. Staring Into The Fridge
“But if I’m not eating meat, what am I going to eat?” you might say. I don’t know, but you should figure it out before you open the fridge. Refrigerants have a significant impact on the environment, and every time you let cool air out of your fridge, your fridge has to work twice as hard to get the cold air back in. Your fridge is generally the biggest energy burner in the household, so the more eco-friendly your fridge is, the more money you save, too. Open the door, take a look around, close the door, make your decision. Open the door, grab the food, close the door again. There’s no need to linger. Ditto on pre-heating the oven. Unless you’re baking a super sensitive cake, there’s no need to let the oven warm all the way up before you start to take advantage of its warmth.
4. Using Regular Light Bulbs
Compact fluorescent bulbs with an “energy star” marking on them use use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. Halogen bulbs. Yes! More expensive, but they last longer. Don’t want to change them all? Fine. Change one. Incremental change is the name of the game. Energy saving bulbs will cut your electric bill in half. You can use that extra cash to treat yourself to Starbucks, but please bring your own cup.
5. K-Cups and Coffee To Go
K-cups are those little pods that go into your Keurig machine and make super mediocre coffee (personal opinion.) Like all consumer products, the less packaging and more bulk-shopping you can do, the better! Especially since the pods are made from non-recyclable plastic. In 2014, enough K-Cups were sold that if placed end-to-end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times. As to BYOCup, it may not always be the most convenient thing to do, but, again, give it a shot. Once. Try to do it one out of every ten times you get a coffee to go. Someone has to start the trend. Maybe that someone is you.
6. Doing Everything To The Max
Guys, I get it. You’re busy. But if you turned your thermostat one degree hotter in the summer and one degree cooler in the winter, if you drove your car five miles more slowly per hour, the world would be in much better shape. Shower for one minute less. Turn the water off when you let the conditioner soak in. Choose a couple of compromises that work for you and start there. It may never be “your trash” but eventually somebody has to throw it away. Unplug some stuff, dude. I promise, you’ll be juuuust fine.