By being green, you show that you care about the future of our planet. It is more important than ever that we all do our part to protect the health of our planet if we want a future with clean air, fresh water and thriving wildlife. You can find everyday ways to go green by taking care of the air, water, and wildlife in your own community. Likewise, if you see that someone is damaging the world around you, you should speak out in favor of greener actions that are beneficial to the Earth and all of us who live on it.
Method 1 of 4: Clean the Air
Step 1. Save electricity
An easy way to immediately start going greener is by conserving electricity in your home, since lights, appliances, and other devices powered by electricity need energy that is generated in power plants, and these pollute the air. For the most part, these plants burn fossil fuels or coal and produce emissions that pollute the air. Today, here are some ways you can help:
- Turn off the lights when you're not using them.
- Turn off and unplug electronic devices and appliances when you're not using them.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.
- Lower your thermostat in the winter and use less of the air conditioner in the summer. You can also insulate your home to help it heat and cool more efficiently.
Step 2. Find alternatives to driving your car
Cars play an important role in air pollution, since the processes by which they are manufactured and the fuel to feed them is produced, as well as the construction of streets on which to drive them, pollute the air in different ways. To contribute, the best thing you can do is not depend so much on cars as your main means of transportation. This is what you can do:
- Take public transportation. Don't drive where you need to go but instead take a local bus, subway, or train.
- You can also ride a bicycle. In many places, cycle paths are being built to make bicycle transport easier and safer.
- You can also walk wherever you want to go. While this will take longer, it is the greenest option available to you. Likewise, it is possible to walk anywhere you can drive or bike in the space of 5 or 10 minutes.
- Share your vehicle to go to work or school.
Step 3. Eat locally grown foods
Food often has to travel long distances to reach supermarket shelves, and before it finally reaches your plate, it may have spent time on boats, planes, and trucks, not to mention your car. By buying locally produced food, you will reduce the amount of energy and emissions it takes to feed you and your family.
- You can find the greenest options at farmers markets. For the most part, they will be able to tell you the exact distance the food has traveled to get to you.
- You could also grow your own food. You can take a look at the community gardens and ask about growing your own vegetable patch.
Step 4. Understand the manufacturing process for the products you buy
Every item you take home has a story. For example, in the case of a new pair of jeans, do you know what materials were used to make them? Do you know where they were sent from until they reached a nearby store? In case you bought them online, how do you think they got to your house? Often times, the steps required to make an item available to you use means that pollute the air. It may help you to take a closer look at what's behind each item to make greener decisions.
- Check the labels to determine the distance the products have traveled to reach you. In case there is one that comes from another continent, a lot of fuel will have been burned to get it to you, so you should look for a local option.
- Buy second-hand products. If at any time it is possible for you not to buy a new item, it is better to opt for a second-hand version so that no energy is needed to produce a new item from scratch.
Step 5. Join a group that works to stop air pollution
There are many environmental groups who are passionate about stopping air pollution, encouraging people, businesses, and governments to make greener choices. While your personal actions matter, you can join a group and make your voice heard if you want to make a bigger difference.
- Find out if there are local groups working to find ways to stop air pollution in your community.
- You can also join a national group whose focus is reducing carbon emissions and stopping global warming.
Method 2 of 4: Conserve Water
Step 1. Save water at home
This is an important resource that we often take for granted. The water that comes from the tap must be pumped from a water source to a treatment plant, then filtered and treated with chemicals, and then pumped to your neighborhood. This is a process that requires a great deal of energy. By conserving water, you're doing your part to put less pressure on local water resources, which is particularly important if the place where you live is prone to droughts. You can do the following to save water:
- Avoid running the water when washing dishes. Instead, use a method of washing them that uses little water.
- Take short showers instead of taking baths. The latter require a much greater amount of water.
- Fix leaky pipes so that no water is wasted.
- Avoid using fresh water to water your lawn, but instead let it be watered with rain or save used water (for example, used bath water) for it.
Step 2. Avoid using toxic chemicals
Cleaning chemicals are often made from toxic ingredients that seep into the water supply and contaminate it, which is harmful to humans, wildlife, and the environment. You should use organic substances at home, as well as you could try making them yourself.
- Don't use a commercial all-purpose cleaner, instead try a solution of white vinegar and water, which will do the same but be non-toxic.
- Baking soda works great for stains of any kind.
- Use natural versions of shampoos, conditioners, and other body products.
- Don't use poison to get rid of insects and rodents in your home but instead use natural methods.
Step 3. Never dump hazardous waste down the drain
What's even worse is pouring them onto your lawn, as they will eventually seep into the groundwater. Paint, motor oil, bleach, ammonia, and other strong solutions should be disposed of properly according to local sanitation department guidelines. Most of the communities have places for the proper disposal of toxic waste.
Step 4. Find ways to combat local water pollution
All communities depend on a natural source of water to survive. It is essential that the water that literally gives life to the community is protected, be it a river, lake, groundwater or other source. You should locate local groups that work to protect water and come together to help. Here are some ideas:
- Participate in local waterway cleanups so you remove trash that pollutes local streams, rivers, and beaches.
- Report those who pollute local water. When there are imprecise government regulations, many water sources become contaminated with industrial waste. You can find out if there is a group working to fix things and keep the water where you live clean.
Method 3 of 4: Protect the Land and Wildlife
Step 1. Produces less waste
Excess waste causes landfills to overflow, polluting the land, water, and air, making life worse for everyone who lives nearby. There are many ways to acquire greener habits when it comes to waste. The following are some ideas:
- Buy products that are not heavily packaged. For example, don't buy packages that are individually wrapped with one serving each but instead buy food in bulk.
- Recycle and reuse as much as you can. You'll quickly figure out how many wrappers you have at home by setting a goal to either recycle or use all of them.
- Compost food scraps. Since food scraps are biodegradable, there is no reason why it should go to a landfill.
Step 2. Make your garden suitable for plants and animals
This is an easy and very useful way to go green. Because humans have destroyed many wild places, native plants and animals need great help to survive. You could make your garden a safe place for wild creatures in need of a home. You will see how, in no time, your garden will be full of wildlife.
- You should not treat your garden with pesticides or herbicides.
- Designate a part of your garden where you don't cut the grass and let the natural grasses and weeds grow as high as they can, which will encourage wildlife to settle there.
- You can plant butterfly bushes and other plants that attract butterflies and bees.
- Also install a bird feeder and waterer, and you could also install a squirrel feeder and a bat box.
- Make a small pond that can be a source of water for the animals.
- Avoid killing, trapping, or scaring off snakes, frogs, lizards, moles, raccoons, possums, and other creatures that want to live in your yard.
Step 3. Plant trees
In most climates, the land is healthier when there are many trees, as these prevent the land from eroding, clean the air and provide a refuge for wildlife, as well as helping to combat global warming because they provide shade on the ground and keep the temperature low. One of the best ways to go greener is by planting trees.
- Find out which trees are native to where you live and plant them where there are very few.
- You can also join a local group working to combat uniform logging of forests where you live to make room for urbanization.
Step 4. Defend the animals
More and more animals are going extinct every day and it is up to each of us to save those that remain. To do this, one way is to start viewing them as valuable creatures who, like us, have the right to live and prosper on Earth. You can take the following steps to go greener, regardless of whether or not you consider yourself an animal lover:
- Take care of wild places (for example, beaches and forests) that are habitats for animals.
- Make sustainable decisions about how you consume fish and meat.
- Speak up in defense of animals. For example, in case there is a local developer who wants to build a cell phone tower right in the flight path of an endangered bird species, you might find a way to take a stand against this project.
Step 5. Join a local environmental group to protect the earth
Your community may face threats such as top clearance mining, hydraulic fracturing, uniform logging, open pit mining, etc., although this will depend on where you live. You should educate yourself on what the environmental threats are where you live so that you can know the best way to help. Do not forget that, to be more ecological, it is best to go beyond your personal actions and make your voice be heard.
Method 4 of 4: Make Personal Changes
Step 1. Consider going vegetarian or vegan
This is a green decision because commercially manufactured meat is produced under conditions that are harmful to the environment. Industrial-scale meat production is cruel to animals and pollutes not only the air but also the water. Also, mass-produced meat is often full of hormones that are unhealthy for both humans and animals.
- The vegetarian diet contains neither meat nor fish. On the other hand, the vegan diet is stricter, since it does not contain animal products of any kind. You must determine which lifestyle makes the most sense to you.
- A good alternative to commercially produced meat in case you don't want to give it up altogether is ethically produced meat. You could only consume meat that you get from a farm that you have visited.
Step 2. You could grow your own products
Planting a vegetable, fruit, and herb garden is a rewarding experience, plus it's a very green decision to completely ditch the processing that goes into getting commercially grown produce to you. In case you've never done gardening, you can start small. To grow enough vegetables and herbs to last a full summer, you don't need a lot of space. You could start with the following easy plants:
Step 3. Make your own cleaning and other products
For the most part, cleaning products can be prepared at home, and they tend to work just as well as ready-made products. You can also make not only your own household cleaners but also your own body care products. This way, you won't need to throw plastic bottles into the trash or worry about the chemicals you might be putting into your body. You can try the following recipes to prepare:
- laundry detergent;
- dishwashing detergent;
- shower gel;
Step 4. Donate or sell items instead of throwing them away
If a large amount of things has accumulated in your house, avoid simply throwing them away, but instead, get into the habit of donating or selling items that may still be of use. You could also trade for something you want with things you no longer need.
- You could organize a clothing swap with your friends whereby everyone can get new treasures without paying a single penny.
- You could also donate items to product sharing communities. You must promise that you will not let any utility items end up in a landfill.