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January 4, 2014

7 Ways to Help the Environment Thrive Today

Our environment is threatened by a lot of things, but its biggest threat is our own activities. Here are the top 7 ways to help the environment thrive by changing our habits and producing positive results:

1. Forget Plastic

There are many reasons why plastic is harmful for the environment: not only is it produced through polluting processes, but it also ends up polluting our water bodies and land. By switching to reusable bags at the grocery store and reusable utensils and cups instead of plastic disposable ware, we can reduce the amount of plastic that ends up polluting the environment. Read more here and here.

2. Choose Sustainable Products

Buying materials made from recycled waste, up-cycled items, or sustainably sourced resources helps slow down the rate we use non-renewable resources. For example, if you are beginning a home remodeling project, consider cabinets made of sustainable bamboo, or flooring made from recycled tiles and stones. Clothes made out of sustainable, plant-based fibers are another way you can make environmentally-friendly choices.

Scarlet Oak Leaves

Scarlet oak leaves photographed by Stuart Rankin.

3. Plant the Right Tree

Planting a tree will always help the environment, but if you want to make a big impact, picking the right tree is important. When deciding on a tree to plant, pick one that is native to your area, requires little maintenance (and little to no use of nitrogen fertilizers), and can grow big and leafy. Yellow poplars and scarlet oaks are good examples.

4. Support Clean Ups

There are many places in our communities that have become polluted grounds, but local organizations and individuals are working daily to clean up these areas. Whether it is trash in a creek or a park, you can help out by joining a cleaning crew one afternoon or donating money to fund a project. Creeklife has a great platform to find or list projects in your area that contribute to cleaning up the environment.

5. Conserve Energy

Conserving electricity and water in our homes helps protect the environment. Think about refitting your home for better energy conservation, whether it is summer or winter.

6. Reduce Waste

On average, a person creates more than 4 pounds of waste every day. This waste is as diverse as the food we throw away, the items we cannot recycle, and the water that is wasted. Little changes, like using a travel mug instead of paper cups for coffee, or showering instead of bathing, help save energy and resources. Also composting food scraps instead of throwing them away reduces the waste that ends up in landfills.

vegetable garden

Photo by Kristi Twichell.

7. Grow a Vegetable Garden

There are so many benefits to growing your own organic vegetable garden. Not only is it healthier and saves money for you and your family, but it helps the environment by reducing soil erosion, improving water quality, and removes dangerous pesticides and chemicals from our land and food. By growing your own garden, you also save energy by reducing the need for food to be shipped across thousands of miles from national farms to the supermarket (and save your own gas money and emissions by skipping a trip to the grocery store).

Growing an entire vegetable garden can be intimidating, but there are a few ways to get started with little to no time. You can easily grow your own herbs, which require little care. Green onions are especially easily: the next time you buy a bunch of green onions, stick the white root ends in a glass jar or bottle and place by a sunny window.

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Posted by Mark Contorno.

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