With so much being said about climate change and how it’s affecting our planet, it can be hard to understand how a single individual can make a real impact. But the reality is that it’s much easier than you may think to incorporate eco-friendly habits into your daily life. While these actions may seem minor, the truth is that they can lead up to big consequences.
In honor of the UN Climate Action Summit and Climate Week NYC, we’ve put together a list of 15 simple actions anyone can take to help save our planet. By taking matters into our own hands, we can collectively do our part to ensure the health of our environment for future generations. Read on for these easy to execute ways to help the environment and start making an impact today.
Shorten Your Shower
While showering certainly saves more water than taking a bath, you can still make an impact here. Rather than leisurely scrubbing away, be a bit more mindful about how much time you are spending the shower. Cutting down your shower time by 2 minutes can save over 10 gallons of water. This will also save on the energy needed to heat the water. Another good technique is to simply turn off the shower while you are shaving or lathering your shampoo, as every second helps.
Turn Off Your Computer at Night
How many of us simply close our laptop or turn off the screen to our desktop each evening? Turning off your computer at night can help save energy, and also put a little bit of money back in your pocket. If you’re worried about how powering down might affect your computer’s performance, place it in hibernation mode instead. And while you’re at it, check your power strips and unplug appliances like hairdryers and TVs that suck energy even when they aren’t on.
Be Thoughtful With Your Laundry
No more half-empty wash cycles! Make sure you’re putting a full load in the wash, even if that means doubling up with a roommate or family member. You can also take a look at the temperature setting. Reducing from a hot to warm cycles can have significant energy savings over time.
Stop Running the Water When Brushing Teeth
Just taking a moment to turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth can make an impact. In fact, it can save up to 5 gallons of water a day. This would translate to 1.5 billion gallons across the U.S. if everyone made the switch.
Go Meatless at Least One Day a Week
Many people are doing meatless at least one day a week in an effort to save money, eat healthier, and help the environment. Why? Ground beef often comes from cattle raised on deforested land. By cutting the demand for beef, you are helping save important areas like the Amazon rainforest.
Buy a Water Bottle
The demand for bottled water is on the rise, but did you know that 90% of those plastic bottles don’t end up getting recycled? Particularly if you live in a country where tap water is drinkable, there’s no reason not to invest in a refillable water bottle. Whether you’re filling it at the faucet or a water cooler, you’re making a change just by reducing the amount of plastic thrown in the bin daily.
Recycle Cell Phones
While we all love having the newest iPhone or Android model in our pocket, the constant turnover means that 130 million cell phones are being disposed of annually. Make sure they don’t end up in a landfill—where battery leaks can spill toxins into the environment. You can recycle your cell phone. Recycling just 1 million cell phones would save enough energy to power 185 U.S. homes for an entire year. It’s fairly easy to do, as many carriers will let you trade-in or recycle your phone. You can also be on the lookout for an ecoATM, which gives rewards for turning in your tablets and phones.
Many of us end up with more wire hangers than we know what to do with, but most local recycling programs won’t accept them. But, there’s a solution that’s easier than you may think. Most local dry cleaners will gladly accept wire hangers to reuse them or sell them to scrap metal collectors.
Buy a Reusable Grocery Bag
We all know that single-use plastic is a huge issue. And while more and more laws are being enacted to ban plastic bags in grocery stores, you don’t need to wait for that to happen to take action. There are tons of options for cool durable shoppers that will actually do a better job of getting your groceries home—just think, no more plastic bag breakage.
Take advantage of technology and move away from paper tickets. Whether you’re going to the movies or boarding a plane, most services accept e-tickets. This can be in the form of showing an email or a virtual ticket downloaded to a smartphone app or e-wallet.
Get a Reusable Straw
In the fight against single-use plastic, a straw can seem harmless, but the reality is that they’re rarely recycled. In the UK alone, over 8 billion plastic straws are thrown out annually. More and more businesses are stocking alternatives to plastic straws, but you can get ahead of the game by purchasing your own reusable straw. There are plenty of options available, including metal straws that conveniently collapse for easy travel.
Select Paperless Banking
We all have an email these days, so why not use it to save paper? With the click of a button, you can go paperless and receive your bank, credit card, and student loan statements digitally. And while you’re at it, when at ATMs you can make the eco-friendly choice and go without a printed receipt.
Use Rechargeable Batteries
The corrosive acid found inside of batteries causes a real problem at landfills, where it can end up infiltrating the soil. If this isn’t enough of a reason to switch to rechargeable batteries, consider that in the longterm, they also help save money.
Ditch Paper Gift Wrap
The next time the holidays or a birthday rolls around, get creative with your gift wrap. Traditional wrapping paper is often laminated, which makes it difficult to recycle—and we produce 4 million pounds of it annually. Why not be more innovative and use newspaper or fabric to wrap your gifts?
Reduce Food Waste
Being more mindful about how much you purchase at the grocery store can cut down on a lot of waste. And at home, think about what you can freeze or how leftovers can be transformed into other dishes. You can also call your local food bank to learn more about how they take donations.