5 Painless Ways to Protect the Environment

Terri Carr

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While we hear almost daily that the earth’s ecosystem is in grave danger, it can feel pretty overwhelming to think about cutting your environmental impact down to zero.

However, if many of us make small changes, soon those changes will become habits. As millions of people make small changes, they create big impacts.

Here are just a few simple things almost anyone can do to lessen their environmental impact.

1) Buy unwrapped bar soap instead of bottled soap

This is one of the easiest steps for most people. Every time you buy an unpackaged bar of soap instead of bottled soap, you keep a bottle out of the landfill. Multiplying that by millions of households around the world and we could easily eliminate many tons of garbage in our landfills.

2) Buy in bulk (popcorn, grains, beans, nuts, spices) whenever you can

If you shop at warehouse outlets like Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s Club, resist the temptation to buy cartons of individually portioned snack foods. While the convenience of pre-measured packaging may help control your calorie consumption, the plastic, foil and cardboard used is choking the earth.

If we stop buying these products, companies will find better ways to package their foods.

3) Candles

If you enjoy the fragrance and atmosphere enhancing qualities of candles, try to choose candles made from beeswax or soy. They might cost more up front, but they also last longer. Look for products scented with essential oils instead of chemicals.

Using non-toxic candles reduces crude oil consumption and creates less toxicity in the air you and your loved ones breathe every day. The many chemicals used in artificially scented products create are toxic to your body. On a day to day basis you may not notice immediate effects but your liver has to filter every substance that comes into your body and eventually your organs can no longer handle the constant assault of toxins. Many illnesses classifed as autoimmune are aggravated by environmental toxins.

4) Give experiences instead of material objects, which are most often not fully used before being discarded.

This can take many forms such as:

- gift cards for restaurant food or grocery stores

- gift of homemade food

- kayak rental fee

- rock climbing class

- art, craft, cooking or music classes

- movie or concert tickets

There are so many easy ways to give gifts that don’t negatively impact the environment.

See SoKindRegistry.org for lots more ideas of ways to give and request gifts for weddings, holidays and occasions of all kinds.

5) Bring homemade food for lunch

This one step ticks so many boxes!

Of course, you will help the environment by eliminating the use of takeout food packaging. But you’ll also save money, eat fewer calories and consume fewer chemicals from the packaging.

In the last year or so it was disclosed that consumers of takeout food are exposed to added chemicals from the food packaging!

6) Plastic coffee stirrers

Now this is a really small change! A coffee stirrer is something we use for about 4 seconds and toss in the trash. Yet, that thin piece of plastic might live in the landfill, slowly leeching its chemical compounds for many years to come. If you can’t find a wooden stirrer, maybe this will nudge you to get a set of personal utensils for anytime you’re eating out.

Many outlets sell compact sets that come with their own case. Look for a set with a spork (spoon and fork in one utensil) and knife. They’re easy to clean and can be tucked in a purse, briefcase or satchel.

Hopefully you can try some of these ideas. As you start to make small changes, other environmentally-friendly choices will probably find their way to you.

Local health food stores and farmers markets are great resources for earth-safe products and practices.

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