Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Green in You: Making Conscious Decisions to Help Our Environment

By: Chantelle Britton

Many of us want to be environmentally responsible, but few of us are willing to make commitments of major lifestyle changes. Luckily, there are simple and effective ways to help our planet and maintain our health and quality of life. If you are not sure where to start, consider the following suggestions.

Bear in mind that the approaches listed below do not in any way encompass all of the practices that you could take to become environmentally conscious. There are many more ways. Visit the websites and resources embedded in this article for more information on how you can play a role in protecting our environment.

1. Start by Educating Yourself
There are numerous resources via the Internet that will give you great and valuable tips on becoming and staying green. Check out Treehugger.com, a web-based magazine dedicated to modern aesthetic environmental practices. Treehugger has “going green guides” that cover everything from personal hygiene to weddings.

Idealbite offers daily doses of sassy and modern tips on eco-friendly living. They send daily e-mails on products and services that not only impact our enviornment, but will impact our lives.

The Center for a New American Dream has valuable information and resources available to help people shop smart and responsibly for the health of all beings.

2. Choose Your Mode of Transportation
Truly consider the amount of fuel consumed through our different modes of transportation. There are a variety of options to think about when choosing your mode of transportation. Some options include walking, cycling, public transportation, car pooling, or if your job allows—work from home (telecommute).

Also, when purchasing a vehicle, consider those that consume the least amount of fuels, such as hybrids, bio-diesel and reduced emission vehicles.

3. Conserve More Water
Water that we use through our taps goes through a energy intensive process of filtering, purifying and transporting, which means that fossil fuel are being emitted each time we turn on the water faucet. Some simple water saving tips include installing water saving shower heads, fixing dripping water faucets, and not letting the water run while you brush your teeth. If you garden, collect rain water instead of using a hose to water your plants.

One other tip to consider is to avoid bottled water. Bottled water is not only a billion dollar industry; its production is affecting our environment in so many ways. Consider this: The US leads the world in consuming bottled water. In 2004, 26 billion liters were consumed and the demand for bottle water is so high that the manufacturing of bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, more than enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year (See: Center for a New American Dream).

4. Consider Your Food Habits
According to Treehugger’s website, there are four basic guidelines to follow to have greener meals. The first guideline is to eat locally. Since most foods travel long distances before you have the chance to enjoy it, locally grown food reduces transportation impacts on our environment. In addition, local growers also spend less energy on packaging processing and shipping their products.

The second guideline is to eat more organically grown foods, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, and meat products. Organic products are produced in ways that support healthy people and an eco-friendly environment. Check out the US Department of Agriculture’s website for more organic information.

A third guideline is to consume less meat. Meat stricken diets may not be the best approach for everyone, but lessening the amount of meat you consume can be beneficial to the environment. Many resources are used up to produce meat and meat products. The production process puts strains on our water resources, land and grain resources, not to mention the potential for pollution to soil, air and water.

5. Start Recycling
The common phrase of “reduce, reuse, recycle” comes to mind when you think of recycling, but recycling has become one of the easiest ways of protecting our environment. Most local governments—cities, counties and towns, have some form of recycling program through their trash collecting systems.

Recycling involves breaking down used items into raw materials to make new items. It reduces toxic greenhouse gas emissions and conserves energy. Try, whenever possible, to recycle items such as plastic, paper, aluminum, and glass products. Also consider buying recycled items, such as paper products and even clothes. Contact your local government’s trash collecting system for more information on recycling. Visit Earth911 to find out more.

No comments: