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Ways to Help the Earth

by Katie McCabe  |  @awelltraveledpair  |  October 27th, 2019

Yuri Gagarin once said "Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!"

From space, Earth looks like a beautiful blue marble, rotating in all its glory. It is truly majestic! This gorgeous planet is home to massive bodies of water, breathtaking landscapes, and billions of humans and animals that all call it home. Although everything seems well from far away, Mother Earth is facing a lot of environmental concerns. Issues such as global warming, air pollution, water pollution, and improper waste disposal are rising at an alarming rate. Our focus must shift from ignorance and convenience to awareness and protectivity of our one and only home. Finding ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle matter more than you can imagine. We must be conscious of our choices. We must be informed of how those choices affect the earth. It quite simply comes down to one thing - you can be part of the problem or part of the solution.

If you want to be part of the solution, I commend you. It can be difficult to change the way you do things, but change is important. It's essential! To make it easier for you, I've compiled a list of simple ways you can help the environment. This list is great for those looking to live a more conscious, eco-friendly lifestyle. Remember, you don't need to start doing everything tomorrow. Change takes time, but the more you try, the easier it becomes. I still eat meat occasionally. I still use single use plastic when it's the only option. I like to take road trips. No one is perfect. The whole point of this article is to inform others that switching to a more eco-friendly lifestyle isn't that difficult. If we all decide to make a valiant effort toward living a more conscious and aware lifestyle, we will undoubtedly become healthier, and so will our planet. 

Avoid Single-Use Plastic

If you can only do one thing to help the planet, this is it! Single-use plastic ends up in our landfills and oceans and takes thousands of years to decompose. The plastic's toxic chemicals get into our water, food, and soil, not only harming us but the earth and wildlife as well. Studies show that plastic production has nearly tripled since the 90's. Today, with the help of environmental agencies and wonderful humans like yourself, there is hope that single-use plastic will become a thing of the past. Some ways that you can help are...

DON'T use plastic shopping bags. INSTEAD use reusable cloth bags.

DON'T use plastic produce bags. INSTEAD use reusable mesh produce bags.

DON'T buy plastic water bottles. INSTEAD use a reusable BPA-free plastic or recycled-aluminum bottle

DON'T use plastic straws. INSTEAD use a biodegradable paper straw, a reusable plastic straw, or don't use a straw at all. 

DON'T use plastic cutlery. INSTEAD use silverware at home. Also, leave a set at work for lunch breaks. 

DON'T use plastic cups. INSTEAD use a reusable coffee cup or reusable water bottle.

DON'T use foam or plastic takeout containers. INSTEAD eat at the restaurant. 

DON'T use plastic bags to collect pet waste. INSTEAD use biodegradable corn starch bags

Eat Less Meat

Eating less meat is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but it is also essential for a healthy planet. A diet heavy in meat consumption not only increases the risk of cancer, obesity, and heart disease but it also makes the planet sick. The livestock sector - raising cows, pigs, and chickens - generates as much greenhouse emissions as all cars, trucks, and automobiles combined. Eating fewer meat-based meals every week could significantly help climate change, water/soil/air pollution, and ocean dead zones. With the help of companies, such as Beyond Meat, new plant-based, meat-less food options are now available, and they taste just like the real thing. Switching to a healthier, plant-based diet may be easier than you think.

Buy Sustainably-Caught Fish and Seafood

It may seem that there are plenty of fish in the sea. With an ocean this vast, it is easy to assume its resources are limitless. However, overfishing and pollution are increasingly threatening our seafood supply and the health of our oceans. In the past decade, populations of halibut, cod, and yellowtail have hit an all-time low, and bluefin tuna is now on the endangered species list. One simple, yet significant, way to help is to only purchase sustainably-caught fish and seafood from markets, grocers, and restaurants. 

Switch to a Bamboo Toothbrush

Ever wonder what happens to your toothbrushes after you throw them away every three months? Unless you recycle them, they end up in our landfills, or worse yet, in our oceans. The toxic chemicals that make up toothbrushes contribute to water and soil pollution, causing disease to us and the planet. Marine life has been known to ingest pieces of toothbrushes causing suffocation or starvation. Two ways you can help prevent plastic toothbrush-related problems are by recycling your old toothbrushes, or switching to a non-plastic toothbrush, such as bamboo. As Kahi Paccaro, the founder of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, says "What's the first thing you touch in the morning? It's probably your toothbrush. Do you want the first thing you touch every day to be plastic?" I know I don't.

Walk More

Walking is extremely good for your well-being. It lowers your blood pressure, strengthens your heart, burns calories, and improves your mood. Not only is it a great way to stay fit and healthy, but it is also great for the environment. It's no surprise that carbon-emissions from automobiles harm our planet by contributing to the rise in global warming. An excellent way you can help is by cutting back on driving. Instead of driving to local stores and restaurants, opt for walking. If possible, walk to work, too. Your body, and your planet, will thank you. 

Switch to an Electric Car

Another great alternative to driving a gasoline-run automobile is by switching to an electric car. Nearly every car company sees the writing on the wall. From Tesla and Porsche to Kia and Volkswagen, car companies are excitedly introducing their latest and greatest electric car models. Consumers no longer want to fill up their cars with toxic gasoline and oil. Instead, they want to drive into the future in an environment-friendly way.

Recycle Correctly

Recycling correctly is very important! When I first read Recycle Across America's blog, I realized I had been recycling incorrectly for many years. A few key tips to remember are....

ALWAYS recycle all emptied metal food and beverage cans, plastic bottles and jugs, clean office paper, clean newspaper, and flattened cardboard.

CHECK to see if your community recycles glass bottles and jars. Sadly, some do not.

NEVER put plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic cutlery, straws, styrofoam, paper tissue, batteries, clothing, wood, wires, electronics, or prescription bottles in your recycling bin. INSTEAD contact your city to learn where you can properly dispose of these items. ALSO, try to reduce your use of these items as much as possible.

Volunteer at a Beach Cleanup

Billions of pounds of garbage end up in our oceans every year affecting our health, our food sources, wildlife, and the overall health of our beautiful planet. One of the best ways you can help is by volunteering at a beach cleanup. Many local communities host cleanup events where kind souls gather to pick up garbage and debris from the beach. If you're having trouble finding an event in your area, consider hosting one yourself. If you don't live near a beach, think about hosting a park cleanup. It really is a great way to meet like-minded people, and all work together for the well-being of our planet. 

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