I live in the US right now, and recent events led me to believe that I live in a bubble. No, not the bubble that had anything to do with the election (because frankly, I am sick and tired of talking about that). The environmental bubble.
I live in a subset of the population who composts even though we live in a city where it is far from convenient to do so. I have lists of CSAs in my area and my friends swap reviews on how diverse they are (read: how much kale we will have to eat if we sign up).
The other day, when a yoga student asked me, “Is eating meat bad for the environment?” I realized that the bubble was real.
By no means am I suggesting that I am the next superhero of the environment (although that would make for an excellent Halloween costume). However, I like to believe that many of us, when equipped with information, will do the right thing. Here are the top 9 things you can do to save the planet, with or without a green cape:
1. Stop eating meat (or at least reduce it).
The Environmental Working Group found that red meat is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse emissions as common vegetables and grains. If the grain fed to livestock were fed to people, we could feed 800 million people! Reduce your footprint and go meatless.
2. Stop eating dairy.
This has some of the same bleak statistics as mentioned in point one, as well as the fact that it takes a lot of feed to keep a dairy cow alive. 66% of all crop calories goes to cows, and cow farts account for 28% of all methane emissions related to human activity. Yes, I just wrote "cow farts."
3. Change your car driving habits.
We don’t all have the luxury of walking everywhere, but vehicles are the biggest compromise to our air. Those tailpipes are at street level, where we can inhale the polluted air directly. Consider a world where you carpool, Uber, walk, or take public transit more often.
4. Notice how you use water.
We have a lot of water in Canada, but we also use a lot of water, and 65% of what we use is in the bathroom. Have shorter showers. Don’t leave the tap running when you're brushing your teeth. Buy an energy efficient showerhead. It all helps.
5. Reduce the amount of paper in your life.
Do you know that 40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for paper? This endangers natural habitats and uses a ton of water. Since it has become inexpensive to print, we do it without thinking. And lest you think you are paperless, think about your bank statements, the paper towels you use to clean the countertops, the junk mail you haven’t opted out of and the way you wrap your Christmas presents. There are many areas where each of us can help to lessen paper production.
6. Use a refillable water bottle and reusable lunch containers.
Bottled water and throw away packaging is wasteful. Landfills are overfilling with water bottles alone. It is also estimated that 3 litres of water is used to package 1 litre of bottled water. It is time to splurge on bottles and BPA lunch packages that will last. Failing that, a mason jar never hurt anyone, except perhaps your desire to not be seen as a hipster.
7. Be mindful of what you throw in the trash.
From kitchen scraps that can be used to make stocks to items that can be recycled, our trash should be less full the more aware we get. Channel your inner grandmother and see how many times things can be reused or repurposed rather than simply thrown away.
8. Bag it yourself.
Before venturing out on your next shopping trip, make sure you've some reusable shopping bags with you. Plastic bags are a huge threat to marine life, and they're an inconvenience to the environment. Reusable bags are the way to go!
9. Borrow or fix rather than buy.
Buying throwaway fashion is detrimental for the environment – 1 kg of fabric generates 23 kg of greenhouse gases! Start thinking about keeping what you own and become more discerning. Darn your socks and sew on new buttons. Borrow clothes if you find you are in between sizes.
Kids don't have a monopoly on capes (or on Halloween for that matter...step back, kids). Super environmental heros, unite!