Earth Day is rapidly approaching, and many of us want to do something to help the planet. Fortunately, it doesn't take much. If you want to do your part to increase sustainability, you don't have to make massive changes in your life and habits. In fact, tiny changes are the best way to make the biggest impact. Consider that the word "sustainability" refers to actions that can be sustained over a long period of time. That means making small changes in your day-to-day life that you can sustain — not big changes that you'll eventually give up because they're too much trouble.
Here are 5 easy ways to help this Earth Day — and every day.
Electricity is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce your carbon footprint, cut down on the amount of electricity you use in your home. For every hour you cut off unnecessary electricity use, you're cutting down on emissions from power plants by about 0.45kg of carbon dioxide per hour.
Turn off all lights in rooms that aren't being used, don't overcharge your phone if it's not needed to be plugged in, and unplug all electronics when they're not in use. You can also replace all light bulbs with LED or CFL ones to decrease the amount of energy used by lighting.
I don’t mean that you should start recycling your bodily fluids, but think about all the little ways you waste water. Do you let the sink run while you brush your teeth? Do you take 20 minutes to shower instead of just 10? Do you stress out over what kind of laundry detergent to use? Do you leave a running faucet while washing dishes? If so, then stop.
The average Malaysian uses 201 litres of water a day; if everyone in Malaysia cut that down by just 10%, more than 650 million litres of water could be saved a day! That’s enough water to fill 94,900 Olympic-sized swimming pools. So turn off that tap!
One of the best ways to help save the environment is to reduce the amount of plastic you use. Plastic bags are a major source of plastic pollution, so using fewer of them can really help. Here are a few ways you can reduce the amount of plastic bags in your life:
Use reusable bags when you go shopping. You probably know this one already, but using plastic bags has become such a habit for so many of us, you may need a little reminder. Keep at least one or two cloth bags somewhere handy — in your car, your purse or backpack — so that you don't forget them when you head out shopping. Better yet, use them all the time, not just when you're shopping.
Keep reusable bags where they'll be handy. Did you forget your reusable bags in the car? That's okay! If you keep some in your office, or in your purse or backpack, it's easy to grab them and go whenever you need them.
Recycle any plastic bags that do come into the house. Most grocery stores and other stores that use plastic bags have recycling containers at the entrance where you can drop off used plastic bags.
Paper documents take up a lot of room and require extensive management to keep them all organized. Paper files take up space and require additional resources for filing cabinets and organization systems. By going digital, you can save on office supplies and the costs of storing all that paper.
Printing documents takes more than trees — it takes energy, water and other resources. Approximately 1,000 gallons of water are used for just one ton of paper. When you go digital, you reduce your impact on the environment by saving water, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing pollution from ink cartridges.
Digital documents are easier to share with others than paper documents. If you want 10 people to review a document at once, you can easily send it to them via email or put it up online so they can review it together digitally. You can also make changes to the file easily without having to print out updated versions if someone makes a comment or suggestion. You can even use track changes in Microsoft Word or Google Docs so everyone knows who made what changes.
One way is to carpool as often as you can. This means that instead of taking a car by yourself, you should ask a friend if they would like to ride together. This reduces the number of cars on the road, which means fewer pollutants are being released into the atmosphere. And sure, it might be awkward to ask someone for a ride, but when you consider how important this issue is for our planet, it seems like a small price to pay.
While we're on the subject of cars, avoid leaving your car idling for too long in one place. Whenever possible, turn your car off while waiting in drive-through lines and parking lots until it's time to move again. The same goes for when you're sitting at home or at work; if you're not going anywhere for a while, turn your engine off!
So here are a few easy ways to lighten your ecological footprint. Try them out, let us know what you think, and don't forget to spread the word—especially to your friends and family. Don't forget to turn off that light when you leave the room!
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