Do you ever find yourself feeling helpless when faced with the huge issue of global warming? I know that I often do. In a world that seems to be controlled by people who are much older than us, it can be difficult to figure out ways in which we can contribute to issues we care about. However, there are countless choices we can make in our everyday lives that, when added up with each other, really do make a difference.
Here are just a few of the ways we can have an impact on the planet we live on and are a part of. A lot of you have likely heard of these tips before, but I hope to make them sound as simple and manageable as they really are! Without further ado, here are three small choices we can make regularly that give us the ability to have a lesser negative impact on the environment.
Fast fashion comes from stores like Target, Forever 21, and Old Navy. Starting in the late 1900’s, companies such as those began to produce cheap, vast amounts of clothing to keep up with the latest fashion trends. The thing about trends, though, is that they’re temporary. Fast fashion quickly ends up in landfills, leaving the chemicals in synthetic materials to pollute the earth. The production of the clothing itself is both unethical and environmentally damaging; fast fashion is nearly always produced overseas, by humans in extremely poor working conditions, and the production of synthetic materials such as polyester results in the emission of many greenhouse gases.
Alright, that was a lot of information, but what can we do about it? The simplest solution is to support fast fashion as little as you can! The reason why a lot of people buy fast fashion is because of how affordable it is, but buying clothing from thrift stores is often even more affordable. The next time you’re thinking about going shopping for some clothes, consider looking somewhere like Goodwill or another second-hand store, rather than looking at a store like Target. This isn’t to say that you can never buy an article of fast fashion clothing again; it’s the individual choices that add up into big change. Maybe you continue to purchase things like jeans from fast fashion stores, but you get new t-shirts from thrift stores. You’d be surprised at how many gems you can find in second-hand stores!
Limit Single-Use Plastic
Here’s one you’re probably very familiar with! Plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose, and plastic was invented less than 100 years ago. That means that every single piece of plastic that has ever been created is still somewhere on the earth. All plastic eventually ends up in the ocean, so that’s how we’ve ended up with things like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and why plastic is such as big threat to marine life.
There are so many ways that we can switch to reusable or biodegradable objects that will help out a lot when added all together. One of the most common ways is switching to reusable water bottles! As of 2017, we were using 1 million plastic bottles per minute, and that number was increasing! You can purchase extremely affordable reusable bottles, or you can make the investment to buy a pricier, longer lasting one that can keep your water cold. Anything is better than using disposable plastic bottles every day.
A similar way is to bring your own cup to a coffee shop instead of using their disposable ones. Many coffee shops are happy to just use your reusable one instead, and you’ll also be saving an extra plastic straw from going into the landfill/ocean. The list goes on of different ways you can limit your single-use plastic intake: bring Tupperware from home to restaurants instead of using their to-go containers for leftovers, bring your own silverware to restaurants that use disposable ones, and bring tote bags to grocery stores instead of using their plastic bags. This is another situation where it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; doing the best you can in the moment is all you can do, and it’s all you should do! You should celebrate every step you can make towards having a lesser negative impact on the earth.
Eat Less Animal Products
Lastly, perhaps one of the most impactful choices you can make, is to limit the amount of animal products you consume. This one can be tricky and definitely takes a little more personal thought to figure out in what ways you can incorporate this into your life, while remaining the healthiest you can be. I’m just going to talk about how animal agriculture can be harmful, and some of the ways I’ve begun to decrease my “animal-intake.” Be sure to talk to your parents if you want to work on becoming vegetarian, vegan, or just cut out some animal products from what you eat, to make sure that you do it in a safe and healthy way.
If a four-person family skips steak one day a week for a year, it has the same environmental impact as not driving a car for three months would have. This is another instance like fast fashion where the industry in question is unethical towards living beings as well as the environment. CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding organization) are where the majority of our animal products come from, and because of their “concentrated” nature, animals there are treated very unethically and abusively. Red meat is the animal product with the biggest impact, so taking that out of your diet is one of the most substantial ways you can reduce your carbon footprint! Again, I am not well-versed in nutrition, so I won’t give out very concrete advice about this, to avoid giving out any harmful advice. Personally, I started out with choosing vegan/vegetarian options when I went out to restaurants, and now I’m trying out more plant-based recipes with my mom!
From contacting your representatives to participating in cleanups, there’s a host of other easy ways to enact change, so let me know if you’d be interested in more blog posts about this sort of thing! Thanks for reading my first blog post as an S2S mentor, and comment down below any other ways you like to do your part in taking care of the earth!