Countless individuals who yearn to transition to an eco-friendly lifestyle face the challenge of where to begin. If you're familiar with the key threats plaguing our environment, you may consider getting involved but ask yourself, "What can I do?"
Indeed, the question of what you can do to help save the planet can be daunting and discouraging. The good news is that no action plan is too small to make a positive impact on the environment.
When considering ways you'd like to reduce your carbon footprint, develop a sustainability plan, and adapt your routine to benefit the conditions around you, it's helpful to focus not on what you can do, but where you can start.
The fact of the matter is that there is a myriad of ways you can start taking action to help the environment today, as you develop long-term goals toward sustainability.
What Can I Do and Where Can I Start?
If you ask yourself "What can I do?", you can take steps toward making a positive impact on the environment in immediate, actionable ways.
While it's helpful to familiarize yourself with the environmental threats that our planet is facing today and into the future, you don't need to be an environmentalist to help.
Once you have the necessary knowledge surrounding climate change, fossil fuels, and the intertwining factors contributing to the destruction of our ecosystem, you can start making routine modifications toward environmentally conscious living.
The most successful way to take actionable steps toward sustainable living starts with becoming informed.
Getting informed means learning about the fundamental threats our planet is facing, developing awareness and an action plan, and fostering a sense of urgency to enact change.
It's not necessary to become an activist to enact change. Many of the changes you will make during your transition toward sustainability begin internally, becoming a part of your everyday routine over time.
Take a brief inventory of your current lifestyle; including transportation method, shopping behavior, living arrangement, and diet.
Several of these factors impact the environment daily on a global scale. Start by addressing just one area to improve upon at a time.
Gradually, the interplay of these contributing factors will become apparent as you reduce harm by eliminating or decreasing the hazardous effects associated with fossil fuels, consumerism, and the traditional western diet.
Don't Lose Sight of the Basics
Asking "What can I do?" is a great start. As we progress further into our young millennium, evidence of green, eco-friendly strides toward improving life on our planet can be witnessed all around us.
Unmistakenly, an increasing number of environmentally conscious individuals have taken steps toward reducing our impact, preserving our resources, and developing innovative new ways to minimize our carbon footprint.
With the relatively recent widespread adoption of hybrid electric vehicles, paperless offices, and banking, as well as the increasing shift toward online purchasing, it may be easy to lose sight of small, consistent measures that reduce harm to our environment.
You may recall the popular adage, "reduce, reuse, recycle." This statement accurately describes the steps you can take today to reduce your impact and work toward a sustainable lifestyle.
The "3 R's" you learned in elementary school still serve as a core principle and helpful reference point when it comes to determining where to start to take action.
Right now, even before you've decided which of the primary environmental threats you'd like to take action against, you can make changes in your daily or weekly routine to:
Incorporating these long practiced measures into your routine, or further adapting them in conjunction with advancements in environmentally friendly technology helps us to reduce harm while achieving the maximum benefit possible to our environment.
Moving On to Specific Action Steps
As you can see, transitioning toward sustainable living involves planning, changes to your consumer behavior, as well as an ability to adapt.
From the question "What can I do?" to taking preliminary actions, many of the changes that you will undergo once you've decided to reduce your impact on the environment happen internally. That is your starting point.
Next, you can explore real-world applications of your new environmentally conscious behaviors by putting them into action.
Just a few suggestions include:
These suggestions serve as a starting point that you can add onto, or choose different courses of action in place of energy-consuming ones.
If you follow the suggestions we've provided, remember that many people who are transitioning toward Earth-friendly living begin with one or two attainable goals from this list.
Ultimately, you may progress toward adopting all of these behaviors or focusing more intently on just two or three.
Any choice that you make when incorporating these lifestyle changes into your long-term sustainability plan will yield a positive impact on everyone involved.
Shopping Fair Trade and Socially Responsible Companies
Shopping Fair Trade doesn't mean boycotting particular brands to make a statement—it's an effective consumer decision that improves the standard of living for millions of people throughout the globe—and a choice you can make to support the environment today.
Fair Trade Standards are certified farming and agricultural standards developed by the Fair Trade agreement to revamp traditional farming practices used by residents of underdeveloped nations.
Partners of the Fair Trade agreement produce crops that are grown using environmentally conscious farming methods, reduced toxic chemical compounds, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and even improve water quality. "What can I do?" can be a life-transforming question.
Reducing Your Meat Consumption (Even Once Each Week)
The advantages of a vegetarian diet are numerous—and extend far beyond improving your health—but it isn't necessary to adopt a vegetarian diet to make a positive impact on the planet.
By reducing your meat intake or substituting a meat-based entree for a vegetarian alternative just once a week, you can drastically reduce the harmful effects associated with factory farming and greenhouse gas emissions.
You can also take action against the inhumane, unsanitary, and often hazardous living conditions cattle and livestock are subjected to by opting for vegetarian and dairy free alternatives whenever possible.
Reducing Vehicle Emissions by Changing Your Transportation Method
"What can I do?" in the area of transportation you might wonder. Carpooling, rideshare, and hybrid electric vehicles are all widely used and innovative ways to reduce vehicle emissions, a serious threat to the ozone layer and significant contributor to climate change.
Consider reducing your carbon footprint even further by opting for a forward-thinking rideshare service dedicated to lowering vehicle emissions.
Biking, walking, and even using a skateboard as part of your commute whenever possible is an excellent alternative to driving in warm climates. In Silicon Valley, tech industry executives arriving to work on unicycles and Segways are an increasingly common sight.
What Can I Do: Supporting Local Businesses
Part of modifying your consumer behavior includes changing your shopping habits to accommodate a more sustainable lifestyle. One of the most important aspects of buying locally is eating locally.
Overhauling the way you shop for food can be intimidating, so don't hesitate to approach this step gradually. Eating locally is applicable not only to grocery shopping, but to dining, farming, and planting your own vegetables at home.
Many people who are transitioning to a locally grown diet start by choosing a handful of foods they will buy, eat or grow locally. Garden staples like tomatoes, root vegetables, and in season produce are good sources of locally grown food to begin with.
Increasingly, some apartment buildings and condominiums offer space for future tenants to grow and maintain small vegetable gardens, as the presence of eating locally gains momentum.
What Can I Do: Implement Your Own "Earth Day"
Consider setting aside a day to unplug from your electronics. This is an excellent opportunity to connect with friends and family.
Just one day a year, month, or week can go a long way in preserving our resources, as well as reducing energy costs.
To save energy all year round, try unplugging appliances when they are not in use, switching to fluorescent light bulbs, and installing dimmer switches.
No Step Is Too Small When Helping the Environment
When it comes to supporting our planet, remember that no action is too small and no one's contribution is insignificant. Environmentalism is within everyone's reach.
You can make the most out of your personal sustainability plan by starting with realistic, attainable goals that suit your living arrangement and daily routine.
Informing yourself, friends, and family members about the threats our planet is facing as well as working with friends and family in adopting lifestyle adjustments will set you and others on the path toward making a difference. Asking yourself "What can I do?" is a great opportunity to take actions, the possibilities are endless. Once equipped with the appropriate knowledge, environmental activism is a breeze.