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Simple Changes I Have Made To Help The Planet

Simple Changes I Have Made To Help The Planet

Earth day is next Monday, April 22nd. Now, more than ever as here in the States the progress made in regards to climate change, is it important that each one of us does our part. We can't all install solar panels on our roofs or purchase a Tesla but there are small simple changes we can make that can make a difference. Below are a few of the things I have done in recent months to do my part to help the planet. 


I stopped using disposable cutlery

My office has a plethora of plastic ware. We keep plastic forks, spoons and knives in stock for employee's lunches and occasions and employee events. There is not much I can do about that. But what I can - and did do - was to stop using it. It suddenly dawned on me one day how much plastic I wasted everyday. I ate breakfast with a plastic spoon, lunch with a plastic fork and knife...and so I invested in a set of cutlery to keep at my desk. I purchased a cute set for less $10 on Amazon.  And it's actually been more convenient than plastic. I no longer have to get up from my desk to get a spoon for my yogurt in the morning. 

Tip: When ordering takeout - tell the restaurant to leave out any plastic cutlery or paper napkins.

I invested in a glass water bottle

I have always had my own mug at work. But my water bottle was plastic. And not only are plastic water bottles not good for the environment but they aren't good for our bodies either.  Plastic - even the BPA-free kind can break down can break down over time and the chemicals in the plastic seeps out. . I invested in a glass water bottle. It's bigger than a plastic water, refillable and long-lasting.  

Tip: To reduce waste, invest in a glass travel mug and use it for when you purchase coffee from your favorite cafe.

I take public transportation

I live in a large city with a multiple forms of public transportation to choose from. I count this as a major blessing, since I have never had to deal with the expense or upkeep of a car. The other upside to that is that it helps reduce emissions by there being one less driver on the road. If I need to get somewhere that is outside of where public transportation can go I bum a ride with a friend or I take Lyft Pool. I try to stick with pool when I can since it functions as a carpool service carrying multiple passengers. And it's cheaper! It's a win win. 

Tip: If you live in a city without access to public transportation try investing in a bike or renting a bike from your city’s bike service. Chicago has Divvy bikes which allows people to rent bikes for 24 hours. You can pay as you go or sing up for the annual membership.

I save leftovers

Food waste is a huge issue. A recent study shows that American waste about a pound of food a day per person. Globally we waste enough food to feed 1 billion people. Not only is that shameful because of the the number of people (especially children) that go hungry in the world everyday,  but it's also horrible for our environment. Food waste contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. We eat a ton of catering in my office on a regular basis. A lot of it gets eaten- and a lot of it doesn't. And so I have become that person. The one who packs up leftovers and takes them home. Yup. I have no problem admitting that. Because the food gets eaten as opposed to becoming landfill. I have also been working hard to reduce the amount of waste in my house in regards to food. I am grocery shopping for less. Instead of buying a bag of apples- I buy 3 or 4. Because that's realistically what will get eaten before they go bad. 

Tip: Try signing up for an imperfect produce club. These monthly memberships will deliver a box of produce directly from a local farmer to your doorstep. The fruits and vegetables are unable to be sold to grocers because of their “imperfect” appearance. Not only does this cut back on food waste but it helps support your local farmers!

I shop with reusable bags

Last year, Chicago imposed a 7 cent fee or tax on bags from stores. Which means that whenever you shop at a CVS or Walgreens if you do not have a bag of your own and need one there is a charge. Chicago is late to this party as similar taxes have been implemented in New York City as well California. What this fee has forced people to do is think ahead. And to use reusable bags. They are cheap, easy to find and can neatly folded into your bag or purse to whip out when necessary. I have a nice little collection of them that I use for when I pick up the cats' food from the vet or any other errands. We have not completely eliminated plastic bags in my house. But - we do reuse them. They have cut back on our garbage bag purchases as we use them to take the garbage out. O would eventually like to get rid of them completely but in the city that can be tough to do.

Tip: If you have the space for it try your hand at composting! It will cut back on the amount of garbage you produce and will put all those wasted nutrients back into the ecosystem.

I bought plants

Did you know that 1 plant in every 100 square feet of your living space can help purify the air in your home? I knew plants and tress were magical but I had no idea just how magical until I learned that little nugget of info. Air purifiers come in handy - and I haven't gotten rid of mine, but plants can improve the air quality naturally and produce less waste.

Tip: If you own a home - plant a few extra trees!

I turned off the faucet

I used to be terrible about this. I would turn the water on while I brushed my teeth... and it would stay on until I was done. A running faucet wastes up to three gallons of water. It's an easy thing to do - just turn the water off until you actually need to use it. 

Tip: Invest in a water pitcher or water filter for your sink. This will help to cut down on plastic waste- and clean your water supply more thoroughly.

These are just a few simple things I have implemented in my own life over the last year and few months. They are not groundbreaking or revolutionary. That isn't the point. Often times we can get overwhelmed with the magnitude of a problem. "I'm just one person. How can I have any impact on our environment?" I certainly have had that thought myself in the past on a lot of social issues. But in the last year or so one thing that has made me optimistic is that time and again history has shown us that when each person does just a little bit it adds up. And like a snowball it builds and builds until...we've changed the world. So while our Government and the people in power argue about if climate change is real or not we can be doing our part to make the change we want to see. 

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