Earth Day 2017: Small Changes to Make a Big Difference

GIF by Cindy Suen

On this Earth Day, I challenge you to look at your everyday activities with a more critical eye. This goes far beyond replacing a lightbulb or turning off lights for an hour. Be intentional with your actions when it comes to commuting, recycling, power, and water usage. As my high school teacher would say about trash, "You're not throwing it away - you're putting it in another place"

 

BYOB. Skip the Paper & Plastic.

One can argue, Paper or Plastic, which is worse? which is better? Skip the argument and bring your own bag when you go shopping. Not just for groceries, but for clothing, basic errands, and any other cause to buy something. It's a simple action that when practiced en massé can help drive down our carbon footprint. Who said your bag needs to be bland and boring? Make it a accessory to your outfit and have fun with it.

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Power Up. By Sun.

The electrical needs of the average American far outpaces what we'll be able to supply if we keep leaning on coal as the primary source of energy. While I'd love to get my hands on Tesla's new solar roofPowerwall, small steps make a difference too. 

A few years ago a project showed up on Kickstarter called, SolarTab. It's a device in a tablet-like form factor with a giant battery (13,000 mAh) pack, two USB ports, and a 5.5w solar panel built-in. It's the perfect device to take to the beach, work, or just out and about. There's an unexplainable joy to know that you're ONLY using the sun to power your devices.

Around the house there are numerous products that still require AA + AAA batteries. You can easily pare down your battery waste by opting for rechargeable batteries. Think about it, you can use it with remote controls, flameless candles, alarm clocks, speaker sets, etc. Only slightly more expensive per battery, it pays dividends in the number of uses you'll get. Most rechargeable batteries can go 1,000+ power cycles and will last for years.

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Stop. Buying. Bottled Water.

The next time you go to the grocery store head back to the water section and look at ALL the variety. Did you know that most of the brands are controlled by the 3 major soda players? As consumers slowed their soda consumption, the soda makers have invested heavily into bottled water options. Many of these options are actually just filtered water with a label attached. Numerous tests have confirmed that most public water sources are superior in both taste and health quality.

"More water is used in making the bottle, than filling it up"

Instead of drinking bottled water you can pick up a Brita Filter System. This model holds 18-cups, fits perfectly in your refrigerator and offers a delicious, chilled, cheap, and clean beverage option.

 

Many people say they buy bottled water on-the-go because it's convenient when they don't have a water bottle handy. Go buy yourself a nice BPA-free water bottle. There are tons of brands such as S'well or Corksicle that make beautiful & heavy-duty metal water bottles that won't leak, will keep your drink cold and look stylish doing it.

There are numerous articles herehere and here that further explain the damage done by bottled water - I invite you to continue reading about it's environmental effects and how easy it is to switch back to public water sources.

"If we take into account the fact that almost 2/3 of all bottled water sales are single 16.9oz (500 mL) bottles, though, this cost is much, much higher: about $7.50 per gallon."  - according to the American Water Works Association

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Make these small changes today and everyday and not only will you be saving the planet, you'll be helping your wallet too.