Small Things Matter: How to Minimize Your Ecological Impact on Nature

significant impact on our environment

You may not know this, but you have the power to help the environment on a global level. By incorporating seemingly small practices into your daily life, you can make a positive difference on our planet and encourage others to do the same. Although it sounds cliché, a little truly does go a long way. Here are a few straightforward ways you can start living an environmentally friendly life, allowing you to be a force for good in the world:

Be mindful of packaging

One of the greatest generators of plastic waste is packaging. To put things into perspective, here’s a not-so-fun fact for you: the UN Environment Programme says that 38% of all plastics produced are for packaging products like food, drinks, and cosmetics. Unfortunately, only a tiny percentage of this is recycled, while the rest end up in landfills, where they’ll decompose for 1,000 years, all while leaking pollutants into the soil and water. 

To cut down on plastic waste, be sure to shop sustainably. Opt for products that aren’t packaged in plastic, or at the very least, have minimal packaging. Support programs where you can bring containers for refilling, rather than buying brand-new ones. In addition, buy only from brands that are committed to using eco-friendly materials such as polystyrene foam alternatives. By supporting them, you’ll be able to send a message to the not-so-environmentally conscious companies, encouraging them to step up their sustainability efforts. 

Say no to single-use plastics

While we’re on the topic of plastics, here’s another tip that can significantly reduce your ecological footprint: say no to single-use! Products such as water bottles, straws, and cutlery are made from conventional plastics such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS). These plastics can linger in the environment for a very long time, and while they will eventually degrade, they’ll never be gone for good. As non-biodegradable materials, they can only become microplastics, which can enter our waterways and cause a wide range of ecological concerns. 

The good news is that cutting single-use plastics from your life is fairly straightforward. For example, you can bring your own water bottle, produce bags, straws, and cutlery the next time you go out. 

Drive your car less

According to Our World in Data, transportation is one of the biggest contributors to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with most of the pollution coming from passenger cars. Considering that each car emits around 4.6 metric tons of CO2 a year, you can only imagine the total emissions from millions of drivers worldwide. 

To address this issue, try to drive less. Take public transportation like buses and trains, or carpool with friends—that way, you can reduce the number of cars on the road. Or if your destination isn’t too far away, why not walk? 

If you do need to drive, be strategic about it. Plan your route carefully and try to get multiple things done in a single trip. For example, if you’re going out with friends, why not do other errands like picking up dry-cleaning, rather than going out again the next day? This will not only help you cut your ecological footprint, but also saves you valuable time and gas! 

Conserve water

Our world may be abundant with water, but the truth is that less than 1% of it is readily available. Most of the Earth’s water is salt water, while others are found in polar ice caps, which we can’t use. And while water is a renewable source, it’s crucial to note that its supply will remain consistent—this means it may not be able to meet the demand that comes with population increase. In fact, the World Wildlife Fund says that two-thirds of the world’s population may face freshwater scarcity by 2025.

To preserve the world’s water supply, it’s crucial to incorporate conservation practices into your daily life. Simple steps such as taking shorter showers, washing a full load of laundry, and turning off the tap when not in use will go a long way in lowering your water consumption. 

Eat meat less

More and more people are choosing to eat plant-based foods and for good reason. Meat is one of the drivers of global warming, mainly due to two reasons: one, the emission of methane by cows; and two, the destruction of forests for grazing.

While you don’t have to go fully vegetarian or vegan, you can try to cut your meat and dairy consumption. For instance, you could have “Meatless Mondays” or treat yourself to meat only on the weekends. 

Go for locally-grown foods

As you slowly switch to a primarily plant-based diet, make sure to source your produce from your farmer’s market than at the supermarket. Not only will it be cheaper, but it’s also a great way to lower your carbon footprint. Locally-grown food doesn’t have to travel a long way to get to you, reducing the fuel consumption that comes with transporting goods. 

In addition, local farmers are less likely to use pesticides, reducing the risk of waterway contamination. Choosing local also allows you to support your local community and contribute to the economy. And as a bonus, you’ll benefit from fresher food! 

Shop secondhand items 

Want to be more sustainable? Stop buying brand-new and instead, give new life to second-hand finds from thrift stores and resale sites. This way, you can actively reduce the volume of waste that ends up and pollutes our landfills. 

Along with shopping second-hand, don’t forget to follow the adage of “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. Make the most out of the items you own, and find creative ways to repurpose them so you can extend their lifespan. 

Small efforts will go a long way

Even the smallest changes can make a significant impact on our environment. By incorporating these tips into your day-to-day life, you can reduce your ecological footprint and contribute to our planet’s healing in your own little ways. Individually, these steps may seem insignificant, but collectively, they can pave the way toward a better, more sustainable future.

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Pauline Cruz