Seven easy ways to help protect the environment


Eliana Mann

IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE: It’s no secret our planet is in a climate emergency. Making small, easy changes to your daily routine can bring us one step closer to finally ending this crisis.

Rising global temperatures, extreme weather events, pollution of the air, land, and sea. The climate is changing and making a significant impact on the lives of everyone on the planet. Since the late 19th century, the Earth has warmed by about two degrees Fahrenheit, which is due largely to an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Climate change often feels like a massive, overwhelming issue that is difficult to tackle. But the reality is that if humans caused it, humans can stop it. Any number of small, personal actions can make a positive impact on the environment and are often easy to do. Here are seven environmentally-friendly changes to make in everyday life.

1. Eliminate single-use plastics. This includes plastic straws, grocery bags, water bottles, and food containers, just to name a few. The problem with single-use plastics is that they are quickly discarded and do not fully decompose, creating massive amounts of waste. Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced per year. It’s easy to replace single use items with reusable products such as cloth tote bags or metal water bottles and straws.

2. Create a garden to grow produce at home. Transporting food from farmer to seller to consumer is a lengthy process that harms the environment with the use of fossil fuels. Instead, try getting food straight from the backyard. Learning how to garden is a simple process customizable for favorite fruits, vegetables, and other foods.

3. Minimize car usage. A typical car releases 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, contributing to global warming with the large number of people who drive a motor vehicle. Alternatives can include biking, taking public transportation, or walking.

4. Compost. This can be done at home by collecting food and plant waste in a compost pile either indoors or outdoors. Compost is used along with soil to help plants grow. It minimizes carbon emissions while also shrinking the need for chemical fertilizers that can harm the environment.

5. Buy used items. Creating new products like clothing takes a lot of energy and resources. For example, around 1,800 gallons of water are needed to make just one pair of jeans. New items also come with packaging that is usually plastic, creating more problems for the Earth. Buying secondhand can mean visiting local thrift stores, garage sales, or simply using hand-me-downs from a friend or family member.

6. Turn off appliances when they are not in use. Leaving the water running or the lights on can waste a lot of energy that should be conserved. These choices are easy to make and don’t require much effort, only thought.

7. Pick up trash outside. Litter can be found everywhere, from land to water, due to careless behavior. Loose trash can harm or kill wildlife, facilitate the spread of germs, release chemicals into the environment, and overall contribute to massive amounts of waste. Take the time to pick up any nearby items outside, even if they are someone else’s. Organized trash pick-up sessions are held by the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as well as many others.

These environmentally-friendly changes are the most basic level of helping the planet, and bigger actions can always be taken. Spend time doing further research on how to help the environment, and be sure to educate others on how easy yet essential it is. If everyone pitches in, we can help lower greenhouse gas emissions, slow global warming, and climate change, and work towards repairing the Earth and the organisms living in it.