The world is ending! Climate change is going to kill us all! Widespread deforestation, mass species extinction, global water scarcity, famine, air pollution, ozone depletion etc. It seems we literally have no hope. Right? The mass media sensationalization around these issues creates the illusion that the solution is way beyond our scope or someone else’s problem as such we sit around and do nothing.
Well, maybe not anymore 2018 is approaching and everyone likes to set new goals for a new year that mostly revolves around weight, health, financial gains etc. For 2018 why not try to live a greener life. It’s not that difficult and I am not asking you to give up your house, car, live in a tree and walk to work. No, because not even I can do that! There are many luxuries that I enjoy but there are practical baby steps that we can take that can have a positive impact on the environment and our pockets. If we all sit around and do nothing then guess what? We are part of the problem and we need to be part of the solution!
Our little actions may seem pointless but if 7 billion people make that individual change then the cumulative effects make a significant difference.
So let’s get into these tips but remember you don’t need to be an overachiever and try all at once; you would end up falling off the wagon because you feel overwhelmed. Baby steps!
Everything in life takes time and good habits are difficult to start, so try to pick one or two and then go from there.
Is it practical? Can I really live an eco-friendly life?Only one way to find out! TRY!
TIP 1: Grow your own food
Now I’m not saying to plough two acres of land and have a fully functioning farm in your backyard but you can invest some time and effort into a cute little garden anywhere in your yard growing all your essential vegetables and herbs. If you don’t have much space well there are vertical gardens or you can channel your inner creative soul and be innovative.
If you don’t have time for the garden then they are many herbs that can be grown right in your kitchen with very little effort such as mint, dill, parsley, french thyme etc., that can add that special touch to your food. Growing your own food doesn’t only save your pockets but your health, as many large-scale farmers, use dangerous chemicals to grow vast quantities of food in a short period of time that is in no way beneficial to our health so let’s get planting!
TIP 2: BYOB ( Bring your own Bag)
As a matter of fact, bring your own everything but let’s start with bag first.
Single-use plastics are polluting our environment at an alarming rate, and in Trinidad and Tobago, we have a culture of handing out plastic bags for literally any and everything. It’s time to change that! Why not walk with our eco-friendly bags and make a stance. There are a variety of these totes available that are super cute that can be incorporated into our daily lives. Again baby steps: you can start by carrying your tote bag to the grocery or market and then start taking it everywhere. You can also get in the habit of saying no; we sometimes buy items that just don’t need a plastic bag since it can already fit in an existing bag that we are carrying such as a handbag, or it can be used right away. We have the power to say no and it’s a little empowering not going to lie, so why not give it a try. Totes aren’t the only items we can walk with; reusable water bottles and coffee mugs are great alternatives curbing the single-use plastic pollution.
TIP 3: Conserve Electricity!
Trinidad literally looks like an explosion of light in the night Lord alone knows why. We have a habit of keeping on office lights, our lights at home and every light for that matter as well as keeping our electronics plugged in while they are doing absolutely nothing. Conserving electricity is not just for the environment; turning off the lights or turning off that water heater when it is not in use can make your pockets literally rejoice. Unplugging all your electronics might be tedious and damaging so it might be easier to have them plugged into power strips and simply turn that off when they are not in use. If turning off all is a task then you can turn off the ones that use the most electricity. You can also invest in energy saving electronics; your wallet would be thanking you in the future. Furthermore, replacing those regular light bulbs with eco-friendly light bulbs such as compact fluorescent light bulbs is another great way to conserve energy as they last 5 times longer, are much brighter and use less electricity.
TIP 4: Conserve Water
We like to waste water simply because we have it but; if we had to wake up 3am every morning and lineup for water by a standpipe that’s only on for one hour and is the only source of water for the community how much would you bet that we would magically learn to not only appreciate this valuable resource but use it wisely. Those 15 minutes showers, or brushing your teeth with the water flowing, or hosing down your yard for hours every day are all forms of water wastage. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love a long shower but I often try to make a conscious effort to take shorter showers especially when I really didn’t have a stressful day. Hoping you can make the effort as well.
So for 2018, in order to conserve our water supply, take shorter showers, take off the tap when brushing your teeth, wash the car with a bucket, install low-pressure shower heads or water saving toilets. Also, most importantly don’t forget to fix those leaky faucets.These little steps can make a huge difference. Millions of people around the world are facing water scarcity daily while some of us have the comfort of having a regular supply of water in our homes. That is absolutely no reason to take it for granted and waste it.
TIP 5: Choose Cloth over Paper
Paper towels are our saviours, especially in the kitchen! Any little mess, drying our hands or wiping the dishes the paper towel is there to the rescue. However, it’s a single-use product which doesn’t make it very efficient especially since its production has serious environmental consequences. I love paper towels and I know I overuse them like many people do but as I learn more and become more eco-conscious I am trying to incorporate alternatives into the kitchen.
Paper towels, like many other paper products, use a lot of trees, energy and water in order to be produced. On average it takes about 2.5 gallons of water to produce one half pound roll of paper towels and then we just use it once and dispose of it. Moreover, paper towels can’t easily be recycled as the paper fibres in them are generally too short and broken down or they become contaminated with food and grease prohibiting them from being cleaned in the recycling process thus not being able to be recycled at all.
So instead of paper napkins, we can use cloth napkins or microfibre cloths for cleaning those everyday kitchen messes. Instead of paper towels, you can use huck towels or microfibre cloths. There are many articles or stories of how people incorporated cloth into their kitchen instead of paper towels so you can do some research if your feeling overwhelmed and slowly incorporate cloth into your kitchen and ditch those paper towels.
TIP 6: Eat Less Meat!
Before you steups, stop reading and come off this post hear me out. I am a meatatarian, I literally only eat meat which is I know is very bad for me and the environment but what is a meal without a big piece of meat on your plate. For all you vegetarians out there don’t judge me but kudos to you for making that choice. With that being said, cutting back on your meat consumption can make a huge difference in the environment as more than 30% of the earth’s surface is used to raise livestock which contributes significantly to release of greenhouse gases. Animal agriculture alone is responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions.
It can be a difficult task but why challenge yourself? You can start by reducing your intake of red meat or eating meat 3 times a week instead of every day. Before you say well you said you’re a meatatarian so I am not going to try this recently I have cut down on my intake of red meat, I hardly eat pork or beef but chicken, I don’t think I can cut that out. Cutting out beef alone would make a significant impact so try it! Remember you don’t have to cut it out immediately! That’s insane! But take little steps to reduce your intake and you would slowly see that you no longer feel for it.
TIP 7: Shop Local
This is the easiest option for all of us to follow, especially in Trinidad and Tobago. There are markets all over the country that we can support and get locally produced foods and craft items. Buying locally helps the environment by reducing your food miles. Eating a fruit that has flown across the globe and was picked way before its time does not sound appetising to me especially when we can get fresh fruits right in either our own backyard or our neighbour’s backyard. Also, when you shop at the grocery store, many of the food items you buy travel over 1500 miles to reach your plate. By cutting down on these miles, you are reducing the environmental impact of your food. Local food doesn’t create large carbon footprints through overseas plane travel therefore, we are cutting down significantly on air pollution, fuel consumption, shipping facilities, packaging and refrigeration.
By buying and eating local, consumers are able to enjoy produce that is fresh and nutritious. Many local producers tend to keep their produce organic, hormone free and pesticide free. Not only is this beneficial to the consumer, it’s also beneficial to the environment. Keeping harmful toxins, like pesticides, out of the air helps to improve crops and air quality.
Like I said there are markets all over the country not only for local produce but everyday items, and shopping locally whether it be clothes, shoes, produce, skin care etc boosts the local economy and benefits the environment so let’s do our part and SUPPORT LOCAL!
I am not asking for much at least I don’t think so. Remember baby steps, do not try to do everything at once. You’d become severely overwhelmed and do absolutely nothing. Find one that you think you can handle and give it a try. It could never hurt. The environment and your pockets would be truly grateful. If you are up to a challenge: do some research, find more options to green your 2018 and every month try something new.