Used under license from Shutterstock.com

Used under license from Shutterstock.com

It is a common misconception that in order to help save the environment, you have to radically alter your current way of life so that it conforms to the new ethical standards of environmentalism. While it is true that driving cars and flying around in airplanes pollute the Earth and contribute to global warming, there are many ways we can offset the damage we do in our decadent gas-guzzling, jet set lifestyles, that can reduce our oversized carbon footprints. And they are surprisingly simple.

Conserve water

  • Take shorter showers and don’t leave the faucet running while washing dishes and brushing your teeth. That’s right, just like your mom always said.
  • Drink less bottled water. If you can’t stand the taste of tap water, buy a filter. Bottled water means a huge amount of plastic waste and shipping bottled water requires a lot of petrol/gasoline, which means big CO₂ emissions.

Eat less meat:

  • If the idea of becoming a vegetarian rubs you the wrong way, just cut down on your consumption of animal products. In terms of numbers, an “all or nothing” approach makes less sense than an overall reduction in harmful activity. Try cutting your intake of meat, fish and poultry in half. The happy and healthy have been eating vegetarian in varying degrees for thousands of years. The Earth and your body will love you for it.

Buy local foods:

  • “Buy local” falls under the now-clichéd “think globally, act locally” maxim and is fairly simple. For example, grapes shipped from Chile to Europe and North America use a lot of fuel and therefore have a large carbon footprint. There are plenty of regional fruits and vegetables available all year round, so check the labels for country of origin and buy local produce. As with meat, take a practical approach and cut down on imported foodstuffs if you don’t want to go “full-on”.

Reuse:

  • Perhaps the most important and unsung of the three ‘R’s, (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) “reuse” has stayed out of the limelight for too long. Why throw something away only for it to be recycled into the same thing you were using it for in the first place? Buy reusable shopping bags and bin (trash can) liners, and avoid using disposables.

 

Used under license from Shutterstock.com

Use alternative/green transport:

  • Take the bus or train. Collective transport is the green transport option! If possible, bike or walk to work. Again, the Earth and your body will love you for it.

So there you have it: a few simple tips to help the environment and yourself: conserve water, eat more vegetarian food, buy local, reuse, and use greener transport. They aren’t weird, difficult or even inconvenient suggestions and they will benefit the Earth, your body and your pocketbook.

Additional resources:
The Argument for Eating Less Meat
New York Times editorial on bottled water: Bad to the Last Drop
Reasons to buy local fruit and veg
Ways to save water