Environmental Effort


Watching the news recently, I have become distraught over the state of our planet. How can I make my home more environmentally friendly?

It's an unfortunate fact that the actions of our species have a destructive effect on the world around us. Like other species, our species creates homes, eats plants and other animals, and reproduces. But our success and our advances in technology have made our impact on the natural world large enough to affect the entire planet.

There are a great many threats facing the Earth today, but experts say that there are also a lot of things you can do to counter them. While no one person’s actions can change the fate of the planet, each of us has the power to help.

Household waste does matter, and we are tossing it out at a rate of 50 tons per second. You can start by taking care to comply with existing regulations for recycling and waste disposal. Many of our local and state governments have taken action to mandate recycling and other Earth-friendly waste policies. It is up to us, though, to follow the law - and studies show that many of us do not. Our recycling rate is just 34%, experts say. You can be part of the solution: sort your recycling in the manner expected by your garbage collectors, and remember to dispose of things like lithium batteries, motor oil, and computer parts in the proper ways.

Another huge part of your impact on the environment is your energy usage. Here, too, you can make changes that will benefit the environment. Something as simple as turning off the lights when you leave a room can have a profound affect on your energy consumption (to say nothing of your electric bill!). Most modern and high-tech appliances, washers and dryers, and water heaters have energy-saving features, so an upgrade to your home’s appliances may make an environmental impact, too (some of these devices - as well as many plumbing fixtures - are designed to conserve water as well as energy). Studies show that we Americans waste 58% of our energy, meaning a majority of the energy we use could be cut.

Your lifestyle itself can also be made more environmentally friendly. Disposing of your waste properly is one thing, but you should also consider the possibility that you could be created less waste in the first place. Some experts believe we have a problem in the form of our “throwaway society.” These experts advocate for keeping your clothes longer, buying more reliable and long-lasting products, and attempting to re-use rather than discard old items.

Another way to cut down on waste is to cook for yourself. Fast food, take-out, and even restaurant food can generate more waste and expend more energy than home cooking. And home cooking will allow you to better control your diet. Global warming experts tell us that the meat industry is responsible for 15% of the greenhouse gases that are making our planet warmer - the same amount produced by every vehicle on Earth combined. In other words, you can lower your environmental footprint by eating less meat. Though it may not be a sacrifice that all of us are willing to make, experts say vegetarians make less of an impact on our planet’s health than the rest of us do. And cooking healthy foods at home can help in other ways, even if you do not choose to give up meat. As previously mentioned, eating at home avoids fast food and take-out’s excess waste, including paper bags, cardboard fry containers, cups, and more.

While experts warn that real environmental change requires large-scale solutions, it is also true that individual choices can help bring about larger changes in government and corporate policies. Congratulations on your commitment to helping the planet, and good luck with your efforts.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

(Martin J. Young, former correspondent of Asia Times).

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