Here we all are . . . just changing our light bulbs and composting away. But, seriously, after reading all of those doomsday climate change headlines, does it ever really feel like enough?
Do you ever stop and wonder what you could focus your efforts on in order to have the most impact? I’ve spent some time researching which actions this might involve, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the following six environmental actions will give you the most climate preserving for your efforts.
1. Do Less Laundry
All That Water
When I think about all those loads of laundry we do as moms, I think about all the water that gets used. Sometimes it feels like there is an endless supply of it, but that is not the case at all.
Can you believe that a mere 0.3% of all the water on the planet is both fresh (not salty) and readily available for consumption (not frozen or below ground)?
And much of that may be polluted!!
Remember California’s severe water shortage up until recently? With climate change catching up with us all lately in the form of floods, droughts and higher temps, expect to see our water supplies become more and more contaminated.
All That Plastic
The other big environmental issue linked to lots of laundry–which I did not really even consider–is all of the synthetic plastic fabric particles that come off of our clothing and enter our waterways every time we wash them!
Want to be proactive in reducing the plastics in your diet? Start with your wardrobe. By passing over those petroleum-based nylons & polyesters, you can avoid contributing the estimated 1,900 individual fibers that one article of clothing can shed through the course of one washing alone.
One option, for those of you who have one or two synthetic pieces you don’t feel you can live without, is washing those items in one of these garment bags in order to contain the plastic remnants.
All That Washing
Nine out of ten clothing pieces end up in a landfill long before their potential lifetime has ended. A lot of that is due to overwashing–shrinkage, fading, etc.
I know my girls tend to go through more than one outfit in a day and not all of it needs to go directly into the hamper. Jackets, jeans and anything that isn’t stained or stinky can simply be rehung for another day.
All Those Chemicals
Another thing to consider when doing laundry the environmental way is the type of laundry soaps and other products you are using. Most mainstream products contain chemicals that are contaminating our oceans.
One of my favorite options for doing a natural laundry load is Molly’s Suds. MyGreenRefills.com is especially great for reducing plastic bottle waste. Or give soapnuts a try, if you’re feeling really open-minded–nothing more natural than a nut that produces its own soap!
2. Eat Local
All That Trucking
Have you ever been on a road trip and wondered where all those truckers were headed? Well, a large number of them are rushing to get produce and other grocery items that aren’t readily available near you, into your local stores.
When you pick up that pineapple, think about all the miles of fossil fuels and carbon emissions that went into it, too. Not as “cheap” as its low price when you put some extra thought into it, huh?
The Soil Degradation
Overall, consumers are getting tired of relying on the nutrition deprived foods of large scale farm operations. The presence of small family farms are once again receiving the recognition they deserve. When you have less to care for, you tend to care for it more; and who wants to eat food that hasn’t been properly nurtured?
Everything in Harmony
Family farms treat their animals with love & respect, keep their soils pure, and help preserve nature by offering pesticide free plants for bee pollination. Many offer CSAs that you can subscribe to for the duration of the growing season at a reasonable cost. Or you can visit multiple farmers at your local market. Local Harvest’s website will give you all the info on resources near you.
3. Go Vegan
The Sacrifice of Eating Meat
51% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from raising and transporting the livestock that produces the meats and dairy products we enjoy. That’s a lot of sacrifice for one lousy burger.
Do What You Can
I’ll admit, I personally love the taste, but even I have been putting more effort into leaning toward a vegan/vegetarian diet in the last year. I just can’t continue to eat meat every single day and feel good about it.
Going vegan may not be for everyone, but even going meatless one night a week can make a major difference when we do it together. Get inspired by my pinterest boards for meatless mondays and vegan recipes.
4. Break Up with Fossil Fuels
The Big Leagues
Okay, so most of us aren’t able to completely break up with fossil fuels just yet. But for those who are able to purchase an electric car and install solar panels in the roof of your home, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Fossil Fuels’ Destruction
The process of extracting these resources and then putting them to use is having a detrimental effect on our planet in a multitude of ways. They pollute our air and waterways, rape our lands of trees and wildlife, diminish our water sources and raise global temperatures.
As a mom, what you can do is reduce your reliance upon these fuels by making the following conscious decisions:
- Then next time you find yourself at a car dealership, opt for a more fuel efficient vehicle
- If you are leaving a room, turn off the lights; and if there is adequate natural light outside, open the blinds
- When electronics aren’t in use, turn them off or, bet yet, unplug them
- Find ways to incorporate more walking, public transportation, biking and carpooling into your family’s lifestyle. Even making it a habit to walk to the park instead of driving can make a difference.
- Purchase appliances that have an Energy Star label. You may even be eligible to receive a tax refund for it.
- Avoid single use plastics as they contain a petroleum byproduct called polyropylene. Instead purchase reusable shopping bags, straws, dishes, cups and utensils.
- Look into the possibility of working from home, especially if you have a long commute.
- Try to limit clothing, luggage, life vest, umbrella and other purchases that are made using nylon, another petroleum based product.
- When landscaping your yard, consider planting patches of clover or other ground covers that will remain short, reducing your need to mow and waste gas.
5. Consider a Small Family
Pardon me, I’m not a big fan of getting up in one’s vagina, but the humongous environmental impact one individual has during a lifetime, makes it hard for me to overlook this area.
The average person creates 890,000 pounds of carbon emissions during their lifetime.
Obviously, this is a very personal decision. But if you had a vision of ten kids in your head, you might want to stop and consider if your concern for the environment might make that goal worth reevaluating.
6. Calculate your Carbon footprint
Try this carbon footprint calculator to learn where you are at in regards to emissions and where you can find places to improve.
Small Changes Add Up
Not all of your environmental efforts need to be super impactful in and of themselves in order to be worthwhile. All those CFL light bulbs and coffee grind worm feedings do indeed add up, especially when we are doing it together.
What are you already doing and what would you like to start doing more of?
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