Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Five Things: Easy Ways to Help the Planet

Nobody's asking you to turn into a full-on hippie and renounce all your worldly possessions.  But there's usually a better way to do the things you every day so that we can all have a less negative impact on the environment.

1.) Small Changes Add Up.
Making a few changes that you can sustain everyday will have a bigger impact than trying to make HUGE lifestyle changes only to drop them when everyday life steps in a makes things stressful.  Don't think of it as "being green" or "saving the planet" so much as just doing what makes sense. 

2.) It's called "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" for a reason.
If you try to make changes in that order, you'll have a higher impact than just recycling.  Reducing the number of goods you use, or the packaging on those goods, or the distance those goods need to travel to get to you eliminates waste beyond the scope of just that one package.

3.) Plastic Bags never die!
Those little plastic bags we all get at the grocery store, the drug store, the convenience store, the department store... They're fairly ubiquitous with modern life, and millions of years from now when people are studying our society, those bags will still be there.  One easy way to combat this is the take re-usable bags to the store with you, but as a dude-on-the-go, I really never do this unless my GF is with me and has one in her purse.  But what I do always do is make sure I reuse those bags I have to accept.  Stash your used plastic bags and reuse them when you need them.  Even if you only use them one extra time (like for taking out the trash), that's one less other bag you'd need, and in the end, buying less bags leads to producing less bags.

4.) Eat Local
When you buy produce at the grocery store, you're getting food that's come from halfway around the world, and was picked well before it ever ripened. When you eat food that has been produced within 100 miles of your home, you are eating food that is picked at it's peak, and doesn't need paints, dyes or chemicals to keep it fresh-looking.  You also help the planet because that means less trucks on the road having to drive food from Venezuela or Chile or Madagascar to reach your plate.

5.) Support Local Businesses
Shopping local restaurants and businesses keeps your local economy strong, and reduces the number of chain stores & restaurants that open up nearby.  Yes, we all love shopping at Target and eating at Applebee's (well, cheap drinks at Applebee's at least), but putting your dollars towards locally owned business who themselves deal with local suppliers makes sure your money stays in your community.  And in the long run, having vibrant local businesses cuts down on the number of times you have to drive to big-box retailers, eliminating that extra pollution from the air.  Doing that just once a week and remove tons of carbon-dioxide annually.

Ryan usually writes for, check it out if you're a fan of random chatter wrapped in good intentions.


Andhari said...

Very wise! I always try to divide products that I buy from local stores and big supermarkets when I grocery shop :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first three things, but the last two are hard for someone on a limited budget and living certain neighborhoods. There is only one place to buy groceries in my neighborhood (I don't have a car), and that's the Key Food supermarket, so that's where I shop. I don't feel guilty at all because farmers get too many subsidies to begin with. Also, I don't make a lot of money so my meager budget goes a longer way at Target and Applebees than the local Italian restaurant ($18 for a bowl of gnocchi, uhhh no can do).


Anonymous said...

I LOVE this!!!! I'm such a tree-hugger.