Being an environmentally friendly person seems like a big step, but there are little things you can do before you go out and buy a Prius or install solar panels. For example, how often do you eat meat? Your mother was right. You need to eat your vegetables. Do you keep your thermostat set to a comfortable temperature when no one is home to enjoy it but a few spiders? Have you ever checked your ecological footprint? It could be enlightening.
Why should we all eat a little less meat? Scientists recognize that our massive demand for meat is actually contributing to climate change. For example, Laestadius, et al, recommend public outreach to convince people to reduce meat consumption to curb climate change in their study “Meat consumption and climate change: the role of non-governmental organizations” published in September of 2013. Much of our agriculture goes toward sustaining animals that we use for food. We’re clearing land for these animals and for the crops to sustain them. All of the care that goes into sustaining the animals emits a lot of greenhouse gases, not to mention what the animals release on their own. Maybe sometimes we could eat an apple instead of a hamburger to benefit the earth and our waistlines.
Next we will consider wastefulness. You can waste things and you can waste energy. How much do you throw away every week? To be more environmentally friendly you don’t always have to recycle. You could sell or donate items as well. As long as you’re keeping what you can out of the local landfill it’s good for the environment. As far as wasting energy goes, consider adjusting your thermostat before you leave the house every day to save energy. Your cat doesn’t need to have the same level of comfort in the house as you do.
Then there’s the matter of transportation. Yes, I told you that you don’t have to buy a Prius, but that doesn’t mean that driving everywhere all the time is good for the environment. Taking public transportation, walking, biking, and carpooling are good options. Even just planning out your day a little better to reduce the number of trips you have to take will save you time and energy. Then there’s air travel. How often do you really need to fly? Can you avoid it? Sometimes you can’t, but it is terrible for the environment. Keep that in mind when you see a movie star taking a private jet to a conference to talk about climate change.
Have you ever checked your ecological footprint? If you live in Europe it will be lower than the United States. Try this ecological footprint calculator to see how sustainable we would be if we all lived like you. Follow some of the little tips it offers to make yourself a little more sustainable.
Did you take the quiz? Do you see now why I went on about meat and transportation? If there’s a way for you to make some changes in those areas, you will be more environmentally friendly. There are a lot of changes we all need to make as a society. We’re currently unsustainable. However, with a few little changes we can all be closer to sustainability.
Laestadius, L.I., Neff, R.A., Barry, C.L. et al. Climatic Change (2013) 120: 25. doi:10.1007/s10584-013-0807-3