Lighten Your Ecological Footprint
We don’t often stop to think about it, but everything we do is supported by the earth we inhabit. The air we breathe, the food we prepare, how we commute and every item we consume has a significant impact on the earth.
From an individual standpoint, these little things might not seem like such a big deal - but they are. Currently, it takes the earth about 18 months to produce the resources each of us consume in any given 12-month period. At OZNaturals, we are committed to sustainability and dedicated to protecting and preserving our beautiful natural world. In honor of Earth Day, we’re reaching out with some ideas on how each of us can be more mindful of our ecological footprint.
How many of us have looked at the scale of our environmental issues and wondered how any single person can have any type of an impact on something as tremendously large as the health of our planet?
While individual acts may seem small, they add up quickly and if each person is willing to take several small steps to lighten their ecological footprint, we can induce an incredible change in the path we’re currently on – especially in the United States where our ecological load would require nearly 4 earths to sustain us if everyone on the planet lived like we do.
Most people want to do better but they either don’t know how or are concerned that taking steps to lighten their ecological footprint will lead to extreme lifestyle changes that they really don’t have any interest in. Just mention cutting back on showers and you’ll probably get more than a few “no ways” and people adamantly shaking their head in refusal.
Here’s the thing. Being ecologically responsible doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, nor does it require a complete change of lifestyle. Plus, many of the ways you can support a healthier planet also make for a healthier you.
If we’re going to make a change, now is the time to do it. Here are 20 simple, effective ways to reduce your ecological footprint and create a healthier, happier future for the world.
20 Ways to Lighten Your Ecological Footprint
There are two schools of thought on the most effective process for making change. One is to jump in, head first and do it all at once – a strategy that works great for those of us with determination and willpower of steel. Then, there’s the idea that taking small steps and developing new habits one by one is more likely to bring about sustainable change. Both are correct because there is no right or wrong way of making changes in your life, as long as you’re doing what works for you.
It’s pretty common to feel overwhelmed by a challenge as big as healing the environment and be lost as to where to even start. Perspective is important. You alone cannot heal our environment, but you do have a personal responsibility to make the best choices and reduce your contribution ecological damage.
There are 4 main areas where you can make changes to reduce your ecological footprint. These include food, water and energy, transportation and general consumption. We’ve broken down the ways to lighten your ecological footprint into these 4 categories to help you see how easy it can be to make simple, but impactful, changes in your life.
Lightening Your Ecological Footprint Through Food and Diet
- Enjoy a Meatless Meal: The livestock industry contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than any other industry – including transportation. The less meat you consume, the better for the environment. It’s estimated that those who eat a completely plant-based diet have an ecological footprint that is about half of that of their carnivorous friends. Don’t want to go full plant based? That’s fine. Try going meatless for just one, or maybe two days, a week. The whole foods plant-based movement is so strong right now that you won’t have any trouble finding delicious recipes that will satisfy even the most hardcore carnivore palate.
- Choose Local, Seasonal Foods: When you buy local foods, you’re eliminating the need for food to travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to reach you. This reduces emissions and the demand for oil. Plus, you’ll be supporting your local farmers and food producers – who are often more likely to offer organic, grass fed and non-hormonal options.
- Grow Your Own: If you have the space, planting a garden – even a small one – is a great way to reduce your ecological footprint. Not only are you reducing your dependence on food that has traveled to reach you and eliminating the need for extra packaging, gardens can help keep the soil healthy and purify the environment. Don’t have a large backyard? See if there are any community gardens in your area or plant a few container gardens that can fit practically anywhere.
- Choose Less Packaging: The less packaging the better, and fruits and vegetables are a great choice because nature has already designed the perfect packaging for them. When buying food, choose options with minimal packaging that can also be easily recycled.
Reduce Water and Energy Consumption
- Shorter Showers: Nobody is saying that you should forgo showers altogether, especially the coworker that sits next to you, but many of us tend to get a little over indulgent where bathing is concerned. There’s nothing more luxurious than a nice long, hot shower on a cool morning but it’s best to save those for special occasions and keep daily showers short while using cooler water.
- Check for Drips and Leaks: Every few months do a thorough check of your faucets and pipes to ensure that you don’t have any leakage going on. Even a small drip can add weight to your ecological footprint, not to mention your water bill.
- Use Less Water Outside: Be wise about how much water is used in caring for your lawn. In many homes, lawn care is one of the largest areas of water consumption. Consider collecting rain water to care for your lawn and plant plenty of drought resistant plants in your garden and for landscaping.
- Run When Full: Appliances that use water, like the washing machine or dishwasher, should only be ran when completely full. Try running the dishwasher just once a day and coach everyone in your home about what a full load of laundry really looks like.
- Keep an Eye on Thermostats: Try reducing your winter thermostat temperature by 3 to 5 degrees and hold off as long as possible before turning on the AC in the summer. Also, have your heating and cooling systems checked every year and keep up on regular maintenance, like changing your air filters.
- Unplug: An appliance or electronic device that’s plugged in is still going to draw energy, even if it’s not in use. Try using power strips with a switch that makes it easy to cut off the source of power to electronics and appliances.
- Let Nature Do the Work: Rely on nature instead of electricity. For instance, take advantage of natural sunlight for as long as possible before turning on indoor lighting, and enjoy the scent of linens that have been line dried outdoors.
Easing the Transportation Burden
- Get a Workout: How many times do you hop in the car to run down to the market just down the street or to visit a friend that lives less than a mile away? Each day, many of us have the opportunity to reduce our ecological footprint by choosing to walk or bike rather than use our cars. Make a goal to start walking or biking to at least one destination a week and then add more in as you can.
- Share a Little: If walking or biking is out of the question, consider ride sharing. For instance, if you’re meeting a group of friends, maybe you can all use the same ride share service or take turns carpooling for your meet-ups. While the idea of carpooling for work is nothing new, try taking it a step further – like carpooling for grocery shopping or when going to the gym.
- Invest in Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance for your vehicle is important for a couple reasons. First, it ensures that your vehicle is running properly, which will reduce its impact on the environment. Secondly, a well-maintained vehicle will last longer, which means less heavy waste in landfills and less waste created in the production of a new vehicle to replace it.
- Be a Tourist in Your Own Town: Ready for a vacation? Instead of booking a long, overseas flight, why not try exploring someplace a little closer to home? Explore a new town or look for a local natural area that has plenty of hiking or camping potential. You don’t always need to travel to far away destinations for a little adventure.
Curbing General Consumption
- Go Thrift Shopping: Choose quality, secondhand items when they’re available. Make thrift stores, yard sales and social media marketplaces your first stop when looking for furnishings, clothing and everyday household items.
- Go Clean: There’s no point in cleaning your home with products that are just going to fill it with toxins. Look for cleaning products that are toxin free, gentle and made with biodegradable ingredients and packaging.
- Buy Less: Before making a purchase, ask yourself about how much use you’ll get out of it before it will be disposed of. The whole Marie Kondo movement comes to mind here. Do you really need it? Does it have real utility? Is it going to “spark joy” for years to come? Also, consider if something can be repaired before replacing it. Often the cost of repair is less than replacing an item entirely – both for your wallet and for the earth.
- Eliminate Disposable Items: If you rely on disposable items such as plates, cups, utensils, paper towels, etc., choose the real deal instead. Designate a set of utensils to keep in your desk at work and save old clothing and towels to clean little messes around the house.
- Use Your Consumer Power: As a consumer, you hold a tremendous amount of power that can be used to influence corporations to make more responsible choices. Choose companies that have a strong commitment to ecological responsibility and use your voice to encourage other companies to follow in their footsteps.
There are other things you can do to reduce your ecological footprint, like invest in solar energy and energy efficient appliances for your home or purchase a new vehicle that gets exceptional gas mileage. But these are all major financial investments and becoming more ecologically responsible doesn’t need to cost you anything. The difference is going to be found in the details, the little ways in which we change our lives. It all starts with you. Take one small step today to reduce your ecological footprint and start building the bridge to brighter tomorrow.