We are growing much more aware of how we impact the world as a society. Though it can sometimes seem like we’re still fighting a losing battle, more and more people are becoming aware of how the excesses of modern living are harming the environment we all share. If you’ve started to get interested in living in a greener, cleaner world, or you would simply like to contribute more to help us get there, here are a few different ways you might want to spend your time.
Start with the home
Most of our time, energy, and resources are spent within the four walls we call home. It’s also where we tend to produce the most waste. Look at the changes you can start to implement. For instance, you can start looking at energy efficient appliances and fixtures such as bulbs. Replacing old HVAC systems can immediately reduce the carbon footprint of your home. You should also look at how you can improve the air quality of the home and the surrounding area, such as making less use of toxic household cleaners and moving onto the growing market of green alternatives.
Make it habitual
Inside the home, and out, how we affect the environment isn’t always down to the conscious choices we make, but sometimes the habits that have been ingrained in us for years, if not decades. You can change to more eco-friendly habits by addressing them one by one. By buying smaller trash cans and setting out separate recycling storage in the home, you can force yourself to be more mindful of what should really be thrown away and what can be reused. You can cut down on paper use in the home by signing up for electronic mail and reminders where possible. You should also address bad habits in the home, like using up electricity by leaving your tech on standby or forgetting to pull out the plug at night. One great tip is to take those habits one at a time and mark them up on a whiteboard or chalkboard in the kitchen that consistently reminds you.
Teach your kids
Few people are going to have quite as much influence on how your kids see the world and their impact on it as you will. Try to educate them gradually as they grow up. Besides setting rules that they can follow and internalize, you want to teach them why green living matters. Take them out into the garden or into surrounding nature parks and help them get up close to nature, showing them exactly what they are helping to protect with all the changes they are making to their lives.
Join community efforts
Almost every community has a body of people already invested in keeping the environment clean. Look for the community clean-ups near you. Most often, they arrange days to pick up trash in parks, play parks, local neighborhoods, and other shared spaces that are easy to pick thanks to their aesthetic appeal. If you don’t have one near you, you might even think about starting your own community cleanup. As an individual, it’s easy to see the state of your surrounding area and despair for the bad habits of the community that can contribute to such a mess. By partnering up with those that share your concerns, however, you can see that there are people willing to help, which can instill you with a sense of hope that it’s not entirely pointless.
Strength in numbers
You can take your community and group efforts a little further than simply getting together for a clean, as well. There is strength in numbers not just when it comes to tackling large-scale neighborhood tasks, but in increasing awareness, having a voice in local government, and making real changes. To that end, you should look at how to start a community coalition. Most of these organizations find their beginnings because of one issue in particular that everyone feels strongly about. For instance, the opening of a new factory farm that could contribute not only a lot of waste but could negatively impact the community by altering the countryside and spreading a bad odor. By finding the issue that most people will care about, you can have them band together. Even after that issue has passed, you could find yourself as part of a large body of people that can really affect the conversations being had on a level bigger than you as an individual could impact.
Make it an agenda
If it wasn’t already clear, then you might have to get a little political if you are truly intent on making as much of a difference as you can. A community coalition can help impact local government by “mobilizing” every time a new business or legal question threatens the environment. On an even higher level, there are statewide public interest research groups that take these same questions and try to spread awareness of the science behind them. By supporting your state’s PIRGs, you could help people become more cognizant of the dangers to the environment.
Support better businesses
As an individual, and as a community, you can make it a priority that you support green businesses and boycott, if not simply ignore, those who are known to cause serious damage to the environment. One of the easiest ways to find whether a big business is harming the environment or is truly green is to internet search them alongside terms like “environment.” You can also look out for environmental accolades or organization logos on any of the products you buy in future. At your community cleanups or coalition meetings, don’t be shy about sharing what you have learned. There’s a growing number of environmentally friendly companies out there selling green and clean products. Support them and there are going to be more as the market grows.
Know which causes to support
If you are like most people, then you probably give some time, money, or resources to charities, fundraisers, and nonprofits. If you’re reading this far into this post, there’s a good chance that environmental causes are amongst those that you support. But how do you know that you’re supporting the ones that really do what they say they do and make the most use of your money? Charity navigating websites are taking a lot of the uncertainty out of donating. Independent investigators are taking a closer look at the operations of different nonprofits, helping you see whether or not they are truly worth supporting or not.
If you love to travel, how do you make sure that you’re doing it in the most environmentally friendly way? Cutting on carbon use by relying on shared means, such as public transport instead of cars, is one way. But you can also choose eco-friendly vacations for the family to enjoy. For instance, you can enjoy a gorgeous environment and help to protect it at the same time on wildlife conservation volunteering trips. You can clean up spots of natural beauty, care for endangered animals, or join treks that are raising money for the good of the local people and environment. There are few vacation experiences more meaningful than those that can leave a little good behind.
Could you make it a career?
This is the suggestion that is going to require the most time and energy so no-one will blame you if you’re not willing or ready to take the step. However, it’s becoming much easier to find a job with a nonprofit that can help you support your family while also supporting the cause you care about. They are run like businesses after all, and they require all kinds of skills from the administrative to the financial and even in the marketing side of things. There are plenty of people starting small businesses offering green products and services as alternatives in their local communities, too. By putting your money where your mouth is, or earning money where your mouth is, so to speak, you can make a huge difference.
Network like crazy
Part of that difference is the ability to affect the conversation in different spheres of influence. There are a lot environmentally friendly networking events as well as meet-ups for those within specific industries and fields of work. If you spot such an event for the field you work in, you can use it to do more than to further your own career. You can use it to further the cause you believe in. Get enough of a platform and you could even up to giving a talk or presentation that makes real changes to other business owners and how they provide their products and services.
We all have a certain amount of time and focus that we can afford to every value that we have. Don’t worry if you can’t take on some of the more active or time-consuming roles, just look at what you and your family can contribute for now. Every little helps in the fight for a healthier world.