Our world faces many challenges in the struggle to preserve natural resources, mitigate the impact of climate change, and restrict or reverse various processes that are leading to environmental destruction. Even though more people are making responsible choices to save the environment, many of us can feel powerless at times or tend to blame big businesses and lay the burden for change at their feet. An individual’s carbon footprint is indeed minimal compared to that of a large-scale manufacturing company, but anyone can make a significant difference with these green practices.
For many people, the most significant impact can result from making small lifestyle changes. After all, modern humans – especially in the developed world – have an average life expectancy exceeding 70 years. Every day that you live and make behavioral adjustments that curb environmental impact will extend those benefits far into the future.
Lower energy consumption is one way that everybody can make a difference. We all need electricity at work and in the home. Power down office equipment, lights, and home appliances when not in use, and switch to energy-efficient models where applicable. When undertaking a home renovation, some features can be updated or installed to improve passive efficiency. Skylights, for instance, fell out of favor in Utah decades ago, but new materials keep them clean and leak-free while providing homeowners with an excellent option for passive ventilation and illumination.
Conscious product consumption
In a modern consumer culture, there’s no shortage of opportunities to spend; in fact, you’re encouraged to do so from every angle, mostly by businesses and advertisers serving their interests. But every purchase of new product signals demand, and this creates the stimulus for further mass production.
This conflict lies at the heart of most consumers’ difficulties in successfully applying themselves towards saving the environment. We may all want to do the right thing, but we’re bombarded with encouragement to spend more and fuel production. Making an effort to eliminate luxury purchases will help (and save money along the way). Look up companies’ manufacturing processes, and insist on patronizing only those who practice responsible and sustainable sourcing. Whenever it’s practical and possible, purchase second-hand items, and repair or upcycle existing items in order to minimize the level of demand and production.
Economy of travel
Whether it’s for work or personal purposes, you probably spend a lot of time each year traveling in some way. Even short trips on a daily basis can add up to several miles at the end of the year; this, of course, means higher emissions. Some of it is necessary, but there can be many ways to reduce mileage and one’s carbon footprint.
Taking public transportation can be less convenient in many cities, but if you’re not particularly hurried or stressed, it can be a small sacrifice to make. Any trips around the city can be planned or combined to reduce total distance. When you’re looking to buy a car, choose one with a good fuel economy. And if you can arrange for a work meeting to be carried out remotely, or take on some of your projects by working from home, the need for travel is significantly lowered.
On the individual level, our impact on the environment might be minimal, but collectively and over time, our choices make a huge difference. Through these green practices, every one of us can make a significant contribution to saving the environment and improving our collective future.