Media news about environmental pollution and degradation are overwhelming. Humans are destroying this planet earth in several ways. And by looking at the current statistics we’ll realize that the damage is real. We may give up on restoring our environment due to thinking that it’s too late. But this is where we’re wrong. I mean, it’s never too late to take the right step. So let’s discover
What can we reduce to help the environment?
Although the major changes should be done on the governmental level, there are plenty of ways in which an individual can positively impact his environment. Some of the most effective ways are reducing waste and cutting down energy and water usage. It can be achieved by actions as simple as turning off extra lights or printing on both sides of the paper. Let’s take a look at what we can reduce to restore our environment.
What can we reduce to help the environment?
Reducing waste production, energy usage, and water consumption can protect our environment in unimaginable ways. Our natural resources will not deplete and there will be less carbon footprint, a reduction in the harmful impacts on humans and wildlife, lesser need to construct new landfills, and a sustainable future. All of this can be achieved by becoming environmentally conscious and adopting simple practices. Keep reading to know what can we reduce to help our environment?
Reduce waste generation
‘Reduce’ is the most efficient strategy in the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) of the waste hierarchy.
“To reduce means to use fewer resources in the first place“
This is done by buying less and minimizing consumption. In short, the finest way to manage waste is to minimize its generation.
Every day tons of waste is generated globally and as a result, the numbers are increasing with each passing year. Most of the people have no idea what this waste is doing to our planet and why has it become so important to reduce its generation. Waste has the potential to pollute all our surroundings including air, soil, surface water, and groundwater. Let me show you how to reduce waste step by step.
Steps to reduce waste
It doesn’t matter where you are as far as you’re keen about reducing waste. Whether you’re at home or travelling somewhere, you can always reduce waste by the following steps:
How to reduce waste at home?
- Learn to compost garden and kitchen organic waste such as grass clippings, eggshells, and vegetable peelings. You can easily compost at home and improve your garden’s soil structure.
- Shift towards reusable items instead of single-use items e.g., reusable napkins, bags, containers, etc.
- Make donations instead of discarding things you don’t need anymore such as old clothes, toys, books, accessories, etc.
- Convert your waste into usable items. If you have a taste in art it must be easy for you to make a flower vase from plastic or wine bottles.
- Last but not the least, avoid buying non-recyclable products.
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How to reduce waste at work?
- Use paper clips instead of staple pins.
- Save paper by printing and writing on both sides of the paper.
- If possible, save and send documents in soft form rather than hard form.
- Use recycled paper and assign a bin for recyclable waste.
- Say no to single-use water bottles and place water cooler on each floor.
- Take lunch in reusable containers instead of disposable boxes.
How to reduce waste while travelling?
- You can reduce a lot of waste just by preventing littering. Therefore, it is highly recommended to take back everything you brought along and preserve nature’s aesthetic value.
- Instead of buying water bottles, take reusable bottles and refill whenever needed.
- Take eco-friendly toiletries such as bamboo toothbrushes, shampoo bars, paper soap, etc.
- Prepare your snacks in reusable containers rather than purchasing packaged items.
How to reduce waste in holidays?
- Holidays are the trashiest times of the year. When shopping for gifts, keep in mind to buy those things that are environmentally friendly.
- Try to buy things with minimum packaging or those whose packaging is made of recyclable materials.
- Use recycled wrapping paper for gifts or buy gifts that don’t need any wrapping.
- Use reusable glasses rather than plastic cups to stop plastic pollution.
Reduce energy usage
Most of the electricity is produced from burning non-renewable energy sources i.e., fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas). Unlike renewable energy sources, fossil fuels can deplete in nature and usually take millions of years to replenish. Also, when burnt, they release various air pollutants including greenhouse gases (GHGs). GHGs are the primary source of climate change as they cause global warming. Therefore, reducing energy consumption means lesser GHGs emissions and hence less possibility of climate change.
Steps to reduce energy usage
Reducing our energy consumption is not a difficult task. All you have to do is take small steps in your daily life and you’re done. We can adapt the following steps to cut back on electricity and help the environment.
Say yes to green energy
Green energy is defined as the energy derived from renewable sources (solar power, hydropower, geothermal energy, etc). Talk to your nearby green energy supplier or install solar panels to power and heat your houses and buildings. Moreover, you can also install geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling. If you are thinking about high installation cost then relax! All of them are comparatively cheaper in the long run.
Know more about the types of renewable energy sources.
Switch off and unplug appliances when not in use
Make changes in your daily behaviour and turn off extra lights and fans. When a device is on ‘standby’ mode it is still utilizing energy. So unplug all your electrical appliances, such as TV, computer and microwave, if they are on standby mode.
Use energy-efficient lights
LED bulbs are 75% more efficient than incandescent light bulbs. Also, they last 25x longer than traditional bulbs. Therefore, replace your incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs to save energy.
Insulate your buildings
Insulation plays a key role in saving electricity because it helps your homes in keeping a pleasing temperature in summers and winters. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about the expenditure here as insulation pays for itself over a short period.
Install energy-efficient windows
10-25% of your energy bills can result from poorly maintained windows. In warm regions, install double-pane or Low-E windows to reduce electrical load.
Reduce water consumption
We are well aware of the fact that almost 70% of the earth is made of water but fresh, clean water is a limited source i.e., 2.5% only. Furthermore, it takes a considerable amount of resources and energy to treat and supply clean water. Such procedures produce carbon emissions and promote the global warming effect (Read 7 most causes of global warming and effective ways to solve it). Hence, it seems like a wise choice to reduce water usage and play our part in saving the environment.
Steps to reduce water consumption
We can make a huge difference by paying a little more attention and controlling our water usage. So, what can we do to reduce our water consumption and help the environment?
Don’t leave the tap running
Do you know when you’re brushing your teeth and leave the tap running you are wasting around 6 litres of water per minute? Shocking, right? So whenever you’re using tap water, never leave it running the whole time.
Manage your shower-heads and shower time
Install water-saving low-flow shower-heads and cut down your shower time. Each minute can save gallons of water. Another way is to turn off your shower while applying soap or shampoo.
Get yourself a low-flush toilet
Old style flush can use up to 3.5 gallons of water whereas ultra-low volume (ULV) uses 1.6 gallons of water. The choice is obvious here.
Manage your laundry choices
Purchase a high-efficiency washing machine and save gallons of water. The most efficient washing machine uses only 7 gallons per load. Save water by washing a full load rather than two half loads of clothes.
You can simply use buckets to collect rainwater or install a rainwater tank, depending on where you live. Use this water for gardening or other washing needs.
Greywater is the form of wastewater generated from household activities such as showers, washing machines, sinks, etc. It can be used for toilet flushing or watering gardens.
Avoid wasting food
Wasting food means you are wasting water too because a lot of water is used to grow the food that we eat. You throw an apple in a bin, you’re wasting water that was used to grow it.
Wrapping up the answer to ‘what can we reduce to help the environment?’
Never underestimate what individuals can reduce to save their environment. It can start anywhere and anytime. All you have to do is follow the simple rule i.e., consume less and conserve more. Small changes in your shopping list may not seem enough at first but over time these little efforts can add up to a positive impact on your environment. So change your habits and start reducing today.
You can also read 10 ways to make 2020 your most sustainable year yet.