We have seen a growing concern for our planet and all of its inhabitants. From the increase in wildfires around the world to the immense pollution throughout our oceans, it is essential that we take action. There is no question that pollution can have damaging effects on our environment, but it also can cause direct damage to our personal health. Between toxins circulating in the air and microplastics invading our water supplies, it is for the benefit of all that we choose to take action and get our hands dirty to clean up the planet.
Grow Your Own Food
There is room for conscious choices in all aspects of daily life. In the kitchen, one of the easiest ways you can choose a more eco-friendly alternative is to grow your own produce. Growing your own fruits and vegetables reduces the reliance on long-distance transportation in the food industry. Between the fossil fuels released by shipping produce across the country, as well as the gas used to go to the grocery store, growing food at home can reduce harm on the environment and prevent the use of chemicals and pesticides from entering our environment and our bodies. From produce itself to the many other products we use in our homes, there are numerous alternatives available to help us transition to a sustainable lifestyle.
Eco-Friendly Plastic Replacements
Many companies around the world specialize in products and services focused on sustainable and ethical business practices. Some ways to cut back on plastic consumption in the kitchen are to swap plastic wrap for beeswax wrap. Beeswax has a longer life than plastic wrap and it is entirely biodegradable. Other plastic products such as Tupperware and straws can be replaced by products made from ceramic, glass, steel, or bamboo. Another large portion of daily life where plastic products are prevalent are included in bathroom routines. Toothbrushes, soap and shampoo bottles, and cleaning supplies all contribute to the mass of household products filling landfills around the world. Bamboo toothbrushes, in particular, have become quite popular within the last year. Many people are also making the switch to shampoo and soap bars in order to eliminate the plastic bottle of other soaps, and swapping out household cleaners for more eco-friendly alternatives, free of harsh chemicals.
The Power of Recycling
Just as easy as making conscious choices, recycling takes it one step further. There are many products in the household that can be reused more than you think. For example, plastic cups that are usually purchased for parties can easily be washed and reused multiple times over. Empty tin, aluminum and steel cans, paper products, and many more can be recycled, reused, or revitalized for other purposes. Reuse empty cans and boxes to start that home garden as we discussed before. Recycling reduces the amount of waste in landfills, conserves natural resources, saves energy in waste breakdown, and can provide jobs in the recycling industry.
While any amount of effort in helping the environment is welcome and appreciated, volunteering is one of the most direct ways you can positively impact the environment. One of my favorite community service events that my chapter participated in is our semesterly highway cleanup. No matter where you live, you may be able to find a group or organization holding a local park or beach cleanup. If there is not already an organized cleanup happening near you, there is nothing standing in the way of grabbing a group of friends and creating your own cleanup event right in your backyard. While local cleanups can be a quick fix to cleaning the grounds and oceans, planting a tree can also help clean pollutants from the air and produce more oxygen. Especially around Arbor Day, many people may participate in tree-planting parties. Trees also help provide vital habitats for local wildlife, prevent soil erosion, and reduce pollution from water runoff. Whether it be a day dedicated to an event or an entire trip across the world, there are many opportunities to get out and find a volunteer trip that speaks to you.
There are many ways you can make a difference. Be it making eco-friendly choices within your personal life to being part of the larger movement, the future of our planet relies on the cooperation of each other. We each have the power to impact climate change. Your voice matters and by speaking out and sharing data and information, we can provide and protect our planet’s future.
Xx, Gillian Hamilton
SUNY New Paltz, Sigma Delta Tau