HOW CAN I HELP THE ENVIRONMENT RIGHT NOW?

I’ve sorted the 10 things into several categories, but most of these items are so helpful they actually fit into multiple categories.   Before we start, let me suggest 5 ways of thinking that can improve the effectiveness of any action you may want to take.  These are good ways of thinking about the environment and sometimes life in general.

Toughen up! Stop Complaining
Think Ahead! Think Long-Term
Be Flexible! Be creative if needed.
Take Action! The present moment is the only thing we have
Be positive! Do your best under the circumstance.

Don’t give up or get discouraged.

 

10 WAYS YOU CAN HELP THE ENVIRONMENT RIGHT NOW!

 

Power Lines and Sunset

SAVE ENERGY:

Energy use plays a huge role in our impact on the environmental.  Therefore it’s fitting to include a few easy ways to curb your energy use.  Energy isn’t free!  This means these tips will also save you money too!

1. Reduce heating and cooling usage.

You’ve heard this repeated time and time again. Why?  For good reason:  It’s hands down, the easiest way to reduce your impact on the environment.

Then why don’t more people do it?  Simple:  A loss of comfort is really scary.  Most people envision planting a tree to save the planet, not wearing 3 layers and shivering in their own house.

Solution:  Start with cutting costs that you aren’t getting a benefit out of.  I.e.  STOP HEATING AND COOLING YOUR STUFF!  Don’t heat and cool rooms you don’t use, and adjust the thermostat a few degrees when you’re gone.   I cut my energy bill by over 50%, and minimizing the amount of space heated /cooled was the primary factor.  This is going to save me at least $8000.  What would you do right now with an extra $8,000?

Space heaters:  Space heaters can be used to reduce a heating bill in many cases.  – However they create a significant risk of fire and should be used with extreme caution.

Insulation and Air Sealing:  Air sealing and insulation take more up front effort, but contribute for years afterwards.  It can even be worth insulating a rental property in some instances.  Cellulose insulation is made from recycled paper.  –  This is about as environmentally friendly as it gets!

2. Take shorter showers.

In most of the world, clean water is treated almost like diamonds.  For good reason, an over-abundance of clean water is truly one of the things that separate rich countries from those whom are less fortunate.   Did you know?  A large portion of the world’s population does not take showers at all.  They wash with a bucket of water.   This is actually one of the most efficient ways to wash.  Most of us won’t be taking a “bucket shower” but fortunately there are some pretty easy ways to conserve.

Easy ways to conserve:  While the water itself is relatively cheap, the cost of using heated water adds up quickly.  If you take longer showers than needed, try finding an alternative activity that gives you a similar amount of relaxation or peace.  If you already take short showers, consider turning the water off during the middle of your shower.  Finally, if you get the cold feeling most people do when they get wet:  Turn off the air conditioner prior to getting in the shower.  That way the warm water from your shower, won’t be trying to complete with the air conditioner.

3. Combine and plan trips:

Combine trips.  Another tip voiced regularly.   Most of us fail on implementation however.   Insufficient planning is usually the culprit.

What you can do:  Figure out what caused your last several unplanned trips.  If you’re bad at forgetting items at the grocery, make a list AND cross off items as you put them in the cart.  If you eat at restaurants more than you would like, then keep more food around the house.   Improve your cooking skills so that the food at home is more appealing.  For trips, try to avoid multiple cars.  A bigger vehicle is usually more efficient than 2 smaller ones.  And be creative.  If you are carrying luggage or other large items they can be carried on the roof or in a trailer so that the vehicle fits more passengers.  –  Renting the right sized vehicle is a smart option too.

4. Cancel junk mail:

Getting paperless delivery all your statements and bills is a no-brainer.  But, ever order a single item and then receive catalogs from that company indefinitely?  A simple call to the 800 number will get you removed.  This doesn’t only work for magazines.  It can be used for basically any unsolicited mail that has contact information.  I’ve managed to get, insurance, telephone, cable, employment newsletters, charities, and many other companies to stop sending me mail.   To eliminate standard junk mail go to:  http://www.dmachoice.org  to eliminate credit card offers go to:  http://www.optoutprescreen.com

 

Shopping Bags

 

STOP BUYING STUFF:

The ugly truth is we are all responsible for the escalating damage done to the environment.   Buying stuff is a huge deal because we don’t see the environmental impact before and after our purchase.   Prior to most purchases a huge amount of environmental destruction occurs.  After your purchase things are sent to landfills.  Huge amounts of toxins are sitting in landfills just waiting to be released.  Here are a few ways to consider reducing your consumption.

5. Stop trying to impress everyone.

While what you pay for something is meant to be reflective of the value you receive, that isn’t always the case.  You can get just as much enjoyment at a lower cost.  While there are many examples, weddings and funerals stand out at me here.  For weddings, there is a fairy tale desire for perfection that typically fuels excessive consumption.  For funerals there is an unwritten rule that what you pay reflects how much you cared for the person.  –  This is certainly not the case.  In fact I would argue the opposite, especially concerning things that may go against the person’s wishes.  I.e.   They say: “I’ll be dead, a plywood box will be fine.”  You have a fancy ceremony anyways.  That isn’t honoring them.  That’s prioritizing your own wishes above theirs.

I won’t even go into the silliness of trying to have a better house, car, or phone than your friends.  If you do this, my suggestion is to seek therapy or read at least 5 personal finance books

6. Stop eating out.

The food and restaurant industry is responsible for a huge amount of pollution from manufacturing and transport and for sending a gross amount of waste to our landfills.

What you can do:  Check and see if there are any restaurants nearby that purchase ingredients locally and pledges to reduce landfill waste.  Patronize those restaurants.   Increase your grocery budget to include healthy and treat items you wouldn’t usually purchase.   If you were able to afford to go to restaurants, then you can afford to buy a bag of walnuts.  For work, pack your lunch with something so delicious, you will have no regrets skipping a meal out.

7. Stop buying packed food.

Okay this is a big one, which becomes more impossible the more you examine it.  How about: “Reduce the amount of packaged food that you buy?”   Packaged food is convenient, but creates a lot of waste.  In fact, nearly all the packaging in the freezer isle is trash!  (Clean plastic with a recycling symbol can be recycled, nothing else!)  Bottom line:  Try to eat more fresh vegetables and do the best you can.  Buy foods with the least amount of packaging.  Tip:  The primary ingredient in cereal is oats.  Buy a large container of oats preferably in bulk.  Put oats, brown sugar*, and milk* in a bowl and heat up.  Just doing this twice per week will save plenty of packaging.  * Milk and brown sugar to taste.  Milk can be replaced with water or almond milk.

8. Plant a garden.

Any idea how much pollution is created hauling food all over the planet?  A LOT!

But growing a garden is easier said than done right?  Start small by planting some tomatoes in a sunny place.   Tip: A raised garden bed is helpful to ensure you have good drainage.  When it hasn’t rained recently:   Water thoroughly in the morning about 2 times per week.  Tomatoes grow well in pots as well.  Tomatoes are a core garden crop because they give high yields with the least amount of effort.  Step 2:  Learn to eat a lot of fresh tomatoes and other vegetables.

Tomato Plant

BE HEALTHY:

Hospitals and medicinal treatment are among the largest expenses people today will be facing.  So what exactly do you get in return for the money paid?  Big buildings, research, landfill waste, etc.

Heredity and chance do both play a significant role in developing medical conditions.  However the impact of living healthy (or unhealthy) is enormous. We’ve made impressive advances in medicine and treatment.  But they shouldn’t be preferred over being healthy in the first place.

9. Go for a walk.

Turning off the television and going for a walk is probably one of the best financial decisions you could ever make.  Outside is preferable, but if weather conditions are not to your liking there are plenty of inside places you can walk as well.   Biking is a good option as well.  The two best uses for a bike are local exercise and transportation.  Biking as a hobby is a great way to meet outdoor enthusiasts, but does not directly improve the environment.

10. Lift weights.

Walking helps with cardio, while lifting weights helps with strength.  Both are vitally important to your long-term health.  Start small and follow the advice of your doctor.  Keep in mind that many people work out for their appearance.  Thus some advice is written with little to no consideration as to the effect on your health.  Exercise will provide cosmetic improvement, but keep health as your number 1 priority.  Always trust your body and your doctor.

 

Bonus:

Would you believe that I can provide evidence that “hoarding money” can be “good” for the environment?    If you read through the above list, almost all the items save you money.   An argument can be made that putting money in the bank rather than spending it helps the environment. – Regardless of what you might spend the money on!   Watch for a future post for further explanation!

Briefcase of money

Hope you found some of these were useful.   Most importantly keep a positive mindset:

  1. Don’t be discouraged.
  2. Put something into action right away. – Even if it’s small.

How many things from the list are you doing already?  Could you choose 1 thing to put into action immediately?  Post below which item you choose.  What do you think should have been put on this list?

Want something more challenging?  Give and receive challenges below, and watch for my upcoming post:  ADVANCED WAYS YOU CAN HELP THE ENVIRONMENT.