Not to sound too overly dramatic, but our planet is drowning in plastic; global warming has been described as a crisis, and air pollution is clogging up our cities.
New stories and reports regularly reveal all the ways humans are trashing the planet at an unprecedented rate.
The earth desperately needs us to show it some more compassion.
We might be tempted to throw up our hands and say there’s nothing we can do to fix the problem, but people from all walks of life can do things each day to reduce their carbon footprint and make their routine more eco-friendly.
I’ve compiled 13 quick ways to show compassion to the Earth that don't involve cloth diapers because you all should be using cloth and if you're not - click here to know why every parent should be using cloth diapers!
1. Pick Up Litter
Litter not only makes our paths, parks, and beaches look untidy, it also causes harm to wildlife and the environment.
Imagine the impact we could have on the earth if everyone would pick up whatever litter they spotted.
You could join an organized clean or take it upon yourself to pick up some litter as you go about your day.
Forget about feeling weird and do it. You’ll have a sense of doing something useful.
2. Pack a Waste-Free Lunch
The next time you’re packing a meal for yourself or your family, make sure to pack only what you can eat, reuse, recycle, or compost.
Consider using reusable containers, along with reusable utensils and a cloth napkin.
You'd have zero trash to throw away.
If you need to use paper and plastic baggies, consider reusing those, too.
See how often you can do this for each meal. It really adds up!
3. Bike More
Driving an average of 12,500 miles per year will expend 11,450 pounds of carbon dioxide.
If you choose to ride your bike to work even just one day a week, you can reduce your contribution to CO2 (and is a great way to get some exercise in as well).
Biking can also protect wildlife.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates, 60 million birds are killed each year in collisions with cars.
Reduce the miles you drive each week, and you’ll reduce your negative impact on birds and other wildlife.
Not a biker?
Consider other eco-friendly modes of transport like walking, using public transport, or car sharing as much as possible to help reduce your CO2 footprint.
If more people commuted on two wheels instead of four, experts estimate we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent by 2050.
4. Plant a Tree
Trees are under threat from climate change, urban development, pollution, and attack from tree diseases and pests.
Trees help to clean our air by removing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.
They filter our drinking water, purify our soil and provide habitat to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
No matter where you live, you can plant trees...in your yard or around your home, in your community, or consider planting a tree in memory of a loved one.
5. Help Save the Bees
Bee numbers are in serious decline and they are vital for the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity in nature.
Bees provide one of the most recognizable ecosystem services known as pollination - which is what makes food production possible.
Help to save the bees by providing them a safe habitat where they can build homes and find a variety of nutritious food choices.
Plant bee-friendly plants such as wildflowers.
Create a bee hotel for solitary bees to make their nests and lay their eggs.
Create a bee bath by filling up a small dish or bowl with clean water and adding some pebbles poking out for bees to rest on to take a drink.
Consider going chemical-free as well - synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and neonicotinoids are harmful to bees, wreaking havoc on their sensitive systems.
Consider using organic products and natural solutions instead.
6. Conserve Energy
Conserving energy at home isn’t just good for the environment — it can also help lower your energy bills and save you money each month.
Try switching off the lights, TV, and other appliances when you are not using them. Replace your lightbulbs with low-energy LED lightbulbs.
Choose energy-saving appliances.
Get a smart thermostat.
These changes will not only help to reduce your household bills but consuming less power at home helps to reduce power plant emissions that are emitted when generating electricity.
7. Go Paperless
The heavy use of paper translates to the needless mass killing of trees which leaves a huge toll on the climate and our own survival.
Not only does paper production require a lot of energy, but also nearly 26 million tons of paper waste hit landfills in the United States every year.
There is a clear need for the reduction of paper usage, specifically in homes and offices nationwide.
Consider using paper wisely while turning to more secure, ‘paperless’ alternatives.
Cancel paper bank statements and bills and opt to pay online instead.
Buy used books, or borrow books instead of purchasing new ones.
Subscribe to Online Magazines and Newspapers.
Replace disposable paper towels with reusable cloths.
8. Say “No” To Plastic Bags
Grabbing a plastic bag at the register is convenient, sure.
But bringing reusable bags from home has a much smaller environmental impact.
Plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources and are not biodegradable. Instead, the plastic breaks up into tiny pieces and can end up in our oceans, and is often mistaken for food by animals.
Whether you are shopping for food, clothes, or books, use a reusable bag.
There are even some stores that offer discounts for using reusable bags!
It’s a good idea to keep a couple of bags in your car so you never leave home without them.
If you are in a position where you need to use the plastic bags, reuse them the next time you go shopping, or use them for something else.
Just do not be so quick to throw them out and be sure to recycle them when you are finished with them.
9. Eat Seasonal and Local Produce
Eating seasonal and local foods is healthy for you, for the environment, and for your community.
Because seasonal food is purchased and consumed around the time that it is harvested, not only is it fresher, tastier, and more nutritious than food consumed out of season, but it doesn’t require long distances for transport which can help reduce the environmental costs associated with your food.
The average piece of produce travels 5,000 miles to get to your supermarket.
Choosing to eat seasonally and locally eliminates those transport and storage environmental costs.
You’ll be supporting local farms and your local economy as well.
To eat seasonally, get acquainted with your local growing seasons and make a seasonal food list.
It’s a good idea o prep for the seasons ahead of time.
To eat locally, shop local farmers markets, join a local food co-op, or plant your own garden (it doesn’t get more local than your own backyard).
10. Reduce Your Meat Intake
In general, meat, dairy, eggs, and fish have a bigger environmental footprint than do plant-based foods.
Scientists warn that to ward off dangerous climate change, we need to eat less meat and replace it with more plant-based foods, particularly in nations like the UK & US, where beef consumption needs to be reduced by a whopping 90%.
Try eliminating the amount of meat, fish, or dairy you eat each day or have at least one meat-free day a week.
Doing this will help to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy consumption.
Your health can also be positively affected by avoiding eating meat; people who don't eat meat generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less and have a lower risk of heart disease.
Eating less meat is crucial for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy planet.
Want to learn more about going meatless for a day?
11. Save Water
Our available water supply is finite.
That means we do not have an endless amount of water.
Actually, only 3% of the water on Earth is fresh water, and only 0.5% is available for drinking.
Using water-saving techniques diverts less water from our rivers, bays, and estuaries, which helps keep the environment healthy.
It can also reduce water and wastewater treatment costs and the amount of energy used to treat, pump, and heat water.
There are many simple things you can do today and every day to save water.
Try turning the tap off while brushing your teeth or shaving, or taking shorter showers.
Limit your water usage as you wash dishes.
Use your dishwasher for full loads only.
Consider installing water-saving devices around the home such as the ‘save a flush’ toilet devices, which reduce the amount of water flushed away, or tap aerators, which save water by mixing it with air.
Water conservation requires forethought and effort, but every little bit helps.
Composting means recycling nutrients back into the ecosystem, which keeps food out of landfills and waterways.
Consider adding a home composting system to your routine, tossing such items as fruits and vegetables, eggshells, and coffee grounds into a pile, along with grass clippings and other yard waste.
You don’t need to live on a farm, or even have a big backyard to try this eco-friendly disposal method.
Composting 1 ton of organic waste can reduce emissions as much as taking one car off the road for two months.
Starting your own home composting system isn’t difficult, it just takes a bit of practice.
13. Dress More Consciously
The world’s addiction to fast fashion devastates wildlife and communities around the world.
The pollution caused by intense cotton farming and the water used in the production of clothes is devastating to people and to the planet.
For example, by producing apparel and garments, massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions enter the atmosphere, water sources are depleted, and carcinogenic chemicals, dyes, salts, and heavy metals are dumped into waterways.
To help reduce this impact, choose natural, organic fibers as much as possible and buy clothes from ethical, sustainable brands that you really love and will keep wearing beyond 30 wears.
Look after your clothes so that they last longer and you will have to replace them less often.
Donate your unwanted clothes to a good cause. Learn how to repair clothing yourself or find a good tailor.
Saving the planet can seem like an impossible task.
But if everyone does just a little bit, like bringing their own bags to the store, walking to work, or conserving water, over time, these small changes will add up to a big impact on the environment.
No effort is too trivial — so pick one of these new habits and take action towards showing compassion to the earth today!