Unfortunately, humans have not been very good agents of the Earth over the years. To protect nature and preserve the planet for our children and future generations, we all need to take proactive steps toward cleaner living habits. Most of the damage to our nature stems from consumption: what we consume, how much we consume, and how often we do it. Whether it’s gas, clothing, food, furniture, cars, toys, water, electronics or other goods, we are all consumers. The key here is not to stop consuming, rather start being conscious of our consumption habits.
The good news is that it’s often not too expensive, difficult, or inconvenient to become more nature friendly. It can even be a fun challenge to implement among your coworkers or family. And though these small changes at the individual level may seem insignificant, just think how much cleaner the planet would be if everyone adopted even a few of the following behavior modifications.
So here are some ways you can start to protect nature today
Restraining consumption can have a huge impact on nature. The three “R’s”—reduce, reuse and recycle— get a lot of attention, but the planet could benefit from some focus on the most important and most underrepresented “R”: refuse.
When you refuse, you say “no,” which is not easy at times. Freebies at events, cheap goods on clearance, the new children’s toys, or the latest gadgets promising to make your life better—none of these are essential. And they almost always end up either in the trash or are forgotten in the back of a closet. Next time you are enticed to purchase or accept a non-essential item, think about whether it would truly improve your life. If not, it’s ok to just say, no.
Let your food and yard waste rot naturally in the soil instead of sending it to the landfill. In other words: compost. Composting your food scraps and yard waste offers great rewards: it keeps an incredible amount of trash out of the waste stream, and it produces free, rich soil to use in your garden.
Some cities now pick up organic waste alongside regular trash. If your area doesn’t offer this service, no worries, you can always set up a low-maintenance compost pile in your backyard.
Choose reusable over single-use.
Think about how many people you see each day drinking beverages from disposable cups or disposable bottles, carrying disposable grocery bags, sipping from disposable straws, eating from disposable plates or containers, and using disposable utensils. All that single-use plastic has to go somewhere, and that has a devastating effect on our soil, oceans, and marine life.
All of the above items have more nature-responsible counterparts. Switch to using reusable items and make a commitment to use them as often as possible. You will have less trash piling up at your curb, and you will be helping to protect nature in a major way.
Get creative with your useless or unwanted items by upcycling, which means turning trash into treasure. Creating something new such as toys, artwork or jewelry is both satisfying and one of the best ways to protect nature. It keeps items out of the trash, as well as it can prevent having to purchase new items, which require lots of resources to produce. Children love making things, so instead of heading to the craft store, check out your recycle bin first and let their imaginations soar!
If you can’t refuse it or rot it then you can’t reduce it, and you can’t upcycle or reuse it, then the best option is to recycle it. Educate yourself on what can and cannot be recycled in your bins. Throwing the wrong items in the recycle bin can result in an entire load being rejected, which means back to the landfill.
You can also easily find out how to recycle special items such as batteries, electronics, and appliances. For drop-off sites check with your local municipality, and make an effort to get your items to the proper disposal sites.
While we are on the topic of shopping, it’s important to think about the path your stuff takes just to get to you. All that packaging, combined with the fuel needed for delivery, really takes a toll on nature. Instead, check out your local farmers market for fresh, package-free food, try eating at a farm-to-table restaurant; and buy from local artists, clothing makers, and retailers before you click for that two-day shipping.
Use fewer chemicals.
Do you really want to protect nature? Then use fewer harmful chemicals and you’ll be on the right track. It’s hard to be sure about the long-term negative effects chemicals can have, both on our bodies and on the planet, so it’s best to avoid them if possible. Opt for chemical-free lawn and garden care; all-natural beauty and hygiene items; natural household cleaners; and organic food. The Earth will thank you!
Walk, bike or carpool.
For short trips, try walking or biking—you’ll also get a healthy dose of exercise, without stepping into a gym. If traveling on foot or two wheels isn’t feasible, try carpooling with a friend, neighbor, or coworker to a mutual destination. And if all else fails and you need to drive your car, line up errands in the most efficient route to save time and miles driven.
Use less water.
Conserving water at home is one of the easiest ways to protect nature. Think of all the times you consume water, both inside and outside your home; then, make adjustments as you can. For example:
- Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth.
- Fix leaky faucets.
- Make your water use more efficient by aerating faucets, using sprinklers that reduce runoff, and installing low-flow toilets and efficient showerheads.
- Collect and use rainwater for watering plants.
- Shorten your shower by a few minutes—or skip it altogether if you don’t really need one that day.
- Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when it’s full
These are just the basics—you can get really creative when it comes to conserving water.
As you can guess, we’re quite fond of this method of protecting nature! Anytime you can use less electricity, it’s a win for the planet. Try some of these quick ways to conserve energy around your home:
- Trade incandescent bulbs for more energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs.
- Use smart power strips, which turn off the power to electronics when they’re not being used.
- Use a programmable or smart thermostat.
- Maintain your heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
- When it’s time to buy a new appliance, choose an Energy Star-certified model.
- Seal air leaks around doors and windows.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated to the recommended level of heat resistance for where you live.
- Use ceiling fans to circulate warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer.