More and more often when we turn on the news, it seems like it’s only bad news. Acid rain, deforestation, greenhouse gasses, and the hole in the ozone layer… the world’s health can be a seriously distressing topic. More than that, with global warming being a problem on such a huge scale, it seems like there’s nothing an individual can do to help. A global problem requires a global solution, right? While we do need change on a global scale to happen, there are still things you can do yourself to help! By practicing sustainable and green habits in your personal life you can improve your personal life and the world’s health. So keep reading to discover 7 awesome benefits of going green!
Before we get into it, let’s take a second to talk about exactly what it is we mean by going green. No, we don’t mean going vegetarian or vegan (but that actually does
help too!). The US Chamber of Commerce defines “going green” as making an effort to “conserve energy, reduce pollution and save money” in one’s personal life.
Okay, so what does going green look like in real life? Some common ways that people “go green” are by becoming vegetarian or vegan, as we said previously. In the same vein, other methods may include reducing the amount of water you use, recycling, or using reusable straws and bags. In other words, any method that reduces your impact on the Earth (and your carbon footprint) is a method of going green. On hiking trails, you often see signs that say “take only pictures, leave only footprints”, and that mentality is a lot of what going green means; enjoying the Earth without harming it. So let’s talk about ways to reduce our impact and maximize our pleasure.
If you’re on our website (or are a human on planet Earth) you probably like trees. Trees create habitats for small creatures, they provide shade on a hot summer day, and most importantly, they produce oxygen. In fact, according to a report by NC State University, a single large tree can provide a full day’s supply of oxygen for four people.
Another thing trees are great at is storing Carbon. A healthy tree can store 13 pounds of carbon each year. An acre of trees is able to hold over 2 tons of deadly (to humans) Carbon Dioxide. So why do we cut them down when we don’t need to? eBill Place looks specifically at the benefits of viewing bills online rather than getting them through the mail, and the benefits are amazing.They state, “if every American household used eBills and online bill pay, it could reduce solid waste in U.S. landfills by more than 800,000 tons a year and help curb the release of greenhouse gases by 2.1 million tons”
That would save more than, wait for it, 18 million trees every year. Just utilizing this one small way of going green can have such a drastic impact on the world. We’re not only thinking of trees here, either. We also need to consider the gasoline and other fossil fuels that are burned and expended to move paper from place to place. It has to be turned from trees to paper, from sheets to reams, and then out to all of the facilities that print your bills on them. Only then does it start making the journey to your mailbox!
Do you know where your vegetables come from? Unless you buy your produce from a local farmer, it’s really difficult to know. Well, statistically speaking, it’s probably coming from California. California is the nation’s largest producer of fruits and vegetables. So while you might be spending your money at the local grocery store, your money is not staying local. When you buy from large scale produce companies your money gets spread all over. While you might be financially helping the grocery store, your impact on the local economy pretty much stops here.
But what about when you buy from your local farmer? Buying produce from local sources puts money directly into the local economy. You’re helping to pay for the farm that produced the food, helping to pay hired hands who work the soil, and most importantly you’re getting fresh produce. What could be better than putting money in the pocket of people in your community while eating fresh, tasty vegetables? Not much, by our count.
Do you know the amount of money you spend on clothes? For a lot of us, it’s probably more than we want to know. However, you don’t need to buy brand new clothes every time you notice a hole in your shirt. A great way to go green is by reducing the amount of new clothes you consume. Thrift stores have been giving gently used goods a new home for longer than any of us can remember. If we think again for a moment about the costs of labor and transportation for new clothes getting to us, it can make your head spin. Not to mention it will increase your carbon footprint. Buying second-hand clothes and household items are not only good for the environment, but it’s also good for your wallet. The price of clothing and other items is a slim fraction of the cost of new goods. Another great way to reduce your carbon footprint in your fashion game is buying clothes that are made with recycled materials!
No matter how much you pay for your electric power and water, you’d probably be happier paying less. Well, using renewable energy is one of the best things you can do go green and save money on your utility bills.
Renewable energy sources like solar and wind power tend to have a bigger upfront cost, that is true. However, the cost of operation after is negligible in comparison to using fossil fuels. According to the EIA, the average American family spends more than $1,300 on electricity each year. However with solar power, over a twenty year time, the average cost savings is between $10,000 and $30,000. What would you do with an extra $30,000?
When we burn fossil fuels, we’re not only damaging the health of the plant, we also damage our own health. Air pollutants from burning fossil fuels can cause health problemslike enhancing asthma and even causing lung cancer.
A simple way to green is to ride your bike when it is unnecessary to use a car. It provides your body with great exercise as well as eliminating the greenhouse gasses you would have produced driving your car. Of course, there’s also the healthiest of the green technology options of transportation, walking! Walking helps reduce your risk of stroke, improves cardiovascular health and it’s great for your bone health!
Thanatologist Kriss Kavorkian studies the process in which humans deal with death and loss. Her studies are mostly confined to how humans deal with this in other humans, but while studying the declining population of Orcas, she noticed that we don’t have the same lexicon for our relationship with our troubled planet.
She is the first to try to describe the idea of “environmental grief”, a term she coined. She talks about the natural human grief that comes along with witnessing whales washing up on shore with bellies full of plastic, the huge amounts of deforestation and other environmental dangers in the form of grief and loss. Most notably, she speaks on the negative impacts these events have on the human psyche. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation estimates that 200 million Americans will suffer psychological distress from environment-related issues.
One way to combat this, she posits, is to become part of the solution. “We need to galvanize our grief into action, to stop the ecocide taking place. We’re destroying our natural world of our wild cousins…. Take baby steps that will help you keep moving forward.That’s it. Just like Dory says in Finding Nemo, ‘Just keep swimming’.
Many of us want to go green and help to improve our world. We improve it not just for ourselves, but more importantly the generations that will proceed ours. However, the prospect of giving future generations a livable planet is dubious by some accounts, like professor of law at Columbia Law School,Jedidiah Purdy who said “[Climate change] is a common tragedy across generations. Because each generation can in a narrow, rational sense act in its own interest while putting the cost of dealing with the consequences of what it’s done on those who come after. So in that sense, the people making the decisions are always the ones who can least be counted on to do the right thing.” This doesn’t have to be the case though! By making small changes in your personal life today you can give your children, and your children’s children, a planet that they can be proud of. You can give them a heritage and a tradition to be proud of bypassing your beliefs and customs down.
Climate change can seem like an insurmountable problem, but there’s always a solution if you work hard enough for it! By making small changes to your own life you can drastically reduce the amount of harmful impact you have on the world. We’ve discussed 7 of the many, many benefits of going green, but if you’re looking for another way to actually go green, check out our website and see how a subscription to our services can help you create a future your kids will be proud to be a part of!