While climate change or global warming seem to be some of the most divisive topics around the world, most people would agree that protection of the environment is something that we all must take more seriously. Are there any simple but drastic ways to improve the environment every day?

Globally, there are about 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste, a vast majority of which pollute the landfills instead of being recycled. Our oceans are so littered that they put the marine life in danger; our cities have levels of pollution that make it hard to breathe.

There are so many environmental problems that it’s become easy to say: “I can’t make an impact on the environment by myself.

But you can, and there are ways to keep it simple – you don’t have to completely alter your habits or follow the zero-waste lifestyle to improve our environment.

A few simple changes can have astonishing results.

Walk Don’t Drive

Passenger cars are responsible for over 60% of total CO2 emissions from road transport in Europe. Trends like carpooling can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that’s produced, but there’s a better solution — walking.

There are numerous reasons why walking is much better than driving. Primarily, of course, you’ll significantly reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment.

A typical car in the UK releases about 0.29 kg of carbon dioxide per mile. It takes less than 15 minutes for the average person to walk a mile. So a short walk instead of a drive could end up significantly reducing your carbon footprint. This will help you improve and protect the environment every step of the way.

Secondly, you’ll improve your own wellbeing. You’ll achieve your fitness goals faster and improve both your physical and mental health. It’s generally recommended that you should walk between 3 and 5 miles a day to stay healthy.

There’ll also be no stress because of the traffic jams and rush hours, and you’ll feel more at ease. So, every time you can take a walk instead of hopping into your car, do it.

Limit Paper Use

Plastic waste (deservedly) gets all the bad rep, but we often forget that it’s not the only type of waste that’s damaging our environment.

Paper waste, while not as polluting, is still exceptionally harmful. Each year, millions of trees are irresponsibly cut down to produce paper, so it’s crucial to be considerate about your paper use.

Luckily, limiting paper waste is relatively easy these days. Some of the ways to use less paper and thus improve the environment include paying your bills electronically, recycling your old textbooks, buying notebooks made of recycled materials, requesting electronic receipts when possible. Even the smallest thing can have a huge impact.



Only 56% of paper and cardboard waste is recycled. While you should try and recycle as much as you can, it’s also important to know what type of paper cannot be recycled. If you mix and match the recyclable and non-recyclable paper, all of it will end up in a landfill, so be careful.

You cannot put any soiled paper in your recycling bin, and you’ll need to remove all plastic from your papers. So, parchment paper, paper soiled with food or grease, sticky paper, make-up remover pads, feminine products, sanitary products, etc. cannot be put in your paper recycling bin.

Deal with Garbage Conscientiously

If you genuinely want to save the environment, you’ve probably cut out single-use plastics such as water bottles and straws. It’s an excellent first step, but there’s always a bit more you could do.

On average, a single person produces around 4.51 pounds of trash per day. That’s including plastics, paper, glass, metals, and more.

If you genuinely want to make a difference, you need to deal with your garbage responsibly. You can separate your trash for recycling, but you need to ensure that the trash will be diverted away from the landfills and to the recycling facilities.

According to the experts from Clearabee, up to 95% of the trash can successfully be diverted from landfills and sent to recycling. This will significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, and protect the land, air, and groundwater from toxic substances released when the trash starts breaking down.



Use Water Responsibly

City-dwellers often don’t pay much attention to water. It’s readily available wherever they are, so it’s difficult to get the bigger picture and see what limited amount of freshwater we actually have. Only 3% of the earth’s water is fresh.

When you reduce the amount of water you use, you’re reducing the amount of energy that it takes to process and purify water to make it safe for consumption.

So another way to improve the environment is to be conscious of your water usage. There are a few simple things that you can do to reduce your water usage. Turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth, have shorter showers. Run your dishwashers and washing machines only when they’re full, maintain your plumbing fixtures to prevent leaks, etc.

Reduce Food Waste

It’s a well-known fact that a third of the world’s food is wasted every year. Just throwing out food increases the greenhouse gas emissions, but this isn’t the biggest concern.

A lot of water, energy, and other resources are necessary for food production and distribution. And all this has an even bigger impact on the environment. Reducing food waste will reduce the waste of all the resources that go into its production.

Reusable Packaging and Containers

Reusable packaging and containers are among the key ways to improve the environment. It will help you reduce the amount of plastic waste you’re producing. Also, it will help you deal with garbage easier, and it will keep your food fresh for longer.

Stainless steel is 100% recyclable, so using recyclable packaging and containers made from it is often the best choice. Plastic can be a fine choice too, but to avoid sending it to the landfills eventually, it’s better to opt for stainless steel. It’s more durable, convenient, and even if you do throw it out, it will be easier to recycle.

Conclusion

As you can see, helping the environment doesn’t always require a complete lifestyle change. Just changing a few habits will have a significant impact, so start improving the environment today!

Valerie Soleil, B.A., LL.B.

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