Over the past few years, most people I’ve spoken to have become (or already were) environmentally conscious to some degree. What often begins simply as saving money – such as reducing the amount of electricity you use – turns out to have quite a positive impact. If, however, you want to do even more; there are several things you can do. Here are just seven lifestyle changes which will help the environment.
1. Use the car less. This is perhaps the simplest change in this list – reduce the time you spend behind the wheel. In addition to the environmental benefits of doing this, you’ll probably find that you become slightly fitter; and have more money in your pocket at the end of the week. In short, there’s no downside. How do you do this? Here are a few suggestions :
- for short journeys, walk
- if possible, work from home (at least some of the time)
- create a car pool with workmates
- make use of public transport occasionally
- bike to work
2. Reduce your intake of red meat. Common sources of red meat such as cows and bulls produce an enormous quantity of climate-changing gases such as methane. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that you should become vegetarian – I enjoy a good steak as much as any other omnivore – simply that a slight reduction can have a dramatic effect. As a bonus, there are a number of well-documented health benefits of a diet containing only a small amount of red meat.
3. Become a ‘green consumer‘. When shopping for any sort of product – anything from groceries to a new television – take a moment to weigh up the options. If there are alternatives, consider which product has the lowest impact on the environment. Things to look out for :
- does the item come in easily-recyclable packaging?
- have the goods been recently produced? Locally?
- is the item energy or water efficient?
By favoring the products which answer ‘yes‘ to these questions, producers and manufacturers will gradually take up ‘green‘ practices in order to remain competitive.
4. Become ‘carbon neutral‘ using offsets as necessary. This is something that nearly everyone can take advantage of. Become as close to ‘carbon neutral‘ as possible; purchasing carbon offsets as necessary. In effect, you’ll be investing in a number of sustainable energy and water schemes. NB : if you’re looking for a slightly more direct investment approach, read on.
5. Invest in companies researching and producing renewable energy. Want to make some serious money, and help the environment at the same time? Invest in companies which are researching, producing and selling energy-efficient and water-efficient goods. Think wind farms, solar panels and electric cars. This is one area in which financial reward and environmental impact can have an enormous overlap.
6. Share your ‘green’ ideas with others. Over the past century or so, global communications has grown in many, many ways. This has made it possible to share ideas and discoveries at an incredible rate. Here are just a few of the ways in which you can share your thoughts with others :
- create a blog which documents the energy-conserving changes you make in your own home
- establish a not-for-profit group which teaches others how to live sustainably
- create a recycling collective with your neighbors, where each person is responsible for the collection and recycling of a particular material or product
NB : naturally there are a great many others. If you’ve developed or are aware of a scheme which is working well, be sure to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about it.
7. Become politically active. If you’ve ever heard someone say ‘the government should do this‘ then this one’s for you. By becoming involved in politics – at any level with which you feel comfortable – you are able to help guide people to an incredible goal. Rather than sitting back and waiting for someone else to take action, make your own voice heard.
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Want more? Well, there’s one change you can make which will incorporate many of the items noted above – support those who are already making a difference. When your neighbor approaches you to discuss their own ideas for a recycling collective, or a workmate suggests a car pool; dive in. It really will make an impact.