We’ve all done it – we leave the lights or computer on for too long, take a long leisurely hot shower, throw away paper that can be reused. But with a little rethinking and gentle reminders, we can put a stop to these actions that are killing our planet.
- Using plastic bags, bottles and, well, plastic everything! Experts predict that when archaeologists unearth evidence from the 20th and 21st centuries a few thousand years from now, they’ll call our era the Plastic Age. The stuff simply isn’t biodegradable and plastic is known to leak hormone-disrupting chemicals and a host of other toxins. So why are we still using them? With the push for tote or cloth bags over plastic in supermarkets and stainless steel water bottles, we have more than a few alternatives to plastic. Have a look at the label of your bottled water in particular – if it says “from a municipal source” or “from a community water system” it’s just plain old tap water. Help save our planet by not buying plastic water bottles, using cloth bags for groceries, and even approaching companies that package their products in plastic to ask them whether they’ll consider reducing the amount they use. Recycle locally when possible!
- Leaving your computer or electronic device turned on or plugged in. Doesn’t seem like it can cause that much damage, but standby power (otherwise known as vampire power) used to power CD player clocks, coffeepot LEDs and cell phone chargers claims more than 5 percent of residential electricity use in the U.S. That’s an estimated $4 billion a year! Not only that, but leaving those gadgets turned on and connected to an outlet churns millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Consider for a moment that a fully charged laptop plugged in year round would consume as much electricity as running your coffeemaker for 12 days straight. Leaving an empty charger plugged in has a scarily similar result. What can you do to stop these power sucking vampires from costing our environment further? Turn off your computer when not in use, unplug you phones when they’re done charging, and if you have a number of gadgets concentrated in one place try using a power strip for a one-touch turn-off.
- Flushing the toilet and leaving the tap running. Sound innocent enough? You’d be surprised at the amount of water it takes to flush a toilet and how much we waste when we leave the tap running. Flushing the toilet just once or twice less during the week will make a difference in your household water usage. You can also put a brick (yes, a brick!) in your toilet cistern to help reduce the amount of water used. As far as running water, soaking dishes before you wash them and turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth can help. If you need some visual reminders, stick a colorful mini post-it note beside the taps.
What other ways can you think of that we’re killing our planet daily and how can we stop it? Share your ideas in the comments below!