Technology has transformed every aspect of our lives. We now have electricity to power up our appliances and gadgets, and heating to keep us warm. Additionally, plastics have changed our everyday lives–from food packaging to cell phone casings.
Unfortunately, while progress has put human convenience at the forefront, its effect on the environment was left to hindsight. Now that we’re on a race against time to save what’s left of the natural world, every little step counts in trying to reverse or at least mitigate the damage mankind has caused.
To help you help the environment, here are a few tips to save energy and reduce the plastic waste we generate:
Saving Energy for Everyone
Simply put, the less energy you use in your household or in your place of work means less energy provided to you by the power plant. The less energy they need to provide, the less fossil fuels they have to burn. This, in turn, reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere, which traps heat and accelerates global warming.
Imagine if each of the small households would do the same energy-saving measure. To be the positive change in your household and your community, start with these simple steps:
1. Switch off when not in use
You’ve probably seen signs of the same message everywhere, but there’s something about this simple tip. Everything that consumes electricity must be turned off, or better yet, unplugged when not in use. For example, leaving your TV on standby consumes only 2-5% of its power, which is small actually. However, this piles up over time and adds to your energy consumption. If you find it inconvenient, power boards that power up multiple appliances can help you by cutting off supply all at once with a flick of a switch.
2. Switch to more efficient alternatives
This is more of an environmentally-friendly investment from your part. Electrical appliances are now harnessing technology to reduce their energy consumption compared to their predecessors. LED light bulbs are more energy efficient and last longer compared to incandescent bulbs, with the Department of Energy saying that they use at least 75% less energy and could last up to 25 times longer. Similarly, if you’re looking for air conditioners or refrigerators, you might want to check up on their energy-efficiency ration, which gives you a picture of how energy efficient an appliance is. Of course, the higher the rating, the more efficient it is.
3. Check your insulation
Keeping your home well-insulated also helps save energy by reducing your need for heating and cooling. You can use insulating materials in your wall cavities, use double glazed windows or use blinds to help retain indoor heat. Also, when using air conditioning, make sure to keep doors and windows closed to allow your AC to reach its intended temperature and maintain it, saving energy as you use them.
Reduce and reuse plastics
Plastics, on the other hand, seem to have become an indispensable part of everyday living. While startups have begun to use more environment-friendly alternatives, there’s still a lot of plastics that take decades to break down and when they do, add to the harmful chemicals present in the environment. To help reduce plastic waste, you can start with these simple changes:
1. Bring your own containers
This is quite general, and gives you more opportunities to start cutting down on plastic waste. When shopping, you can bring your own plastic bag or better yet, a reusable bag for all the goods and produce you buy. This way, you stop contributing to the one trillion plastic bags used and disposed around the world according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Similarly, you can bring your own flask or tumbler to cut on bottled water or those coffee cups. While they look like made of paper, disposable cups commonly used today are internally lined with a type of plastic that is not readily recyclable or reusable, ending up in landfills stuck to the paper cup they’re in.
You can also opt for wholesalers that are popping up around the country. Bring your own container, then fill it with what you need – spices, sauces, even shampoos and conditioners. The item you buy is often weighed, which determines price. This eliminates plastic packaging entirely, removing additional waste from the equation.
2. Walk to the store
This sounds inconsequential and indirect, but this helps both reduce energy and plastic consumption. While ordering online sounds convenient, there is a plastic-saving alternative. By skipping your online shopping, you help reduce the additional packaging required to ship your order and you help shipping companies reduce carbon emission. If you think it sounds far-fetched, just imagine Amazon reporting a 19% increase in its carbon footprint from 2020 alone because of the pandemic parcel boom. Travel restrictions increased our reliance on online shopping and delivery services and life post-pandemic is an opportunity to reverse this trend.
3. Shift to reusables and natural alternatives
A lot of our daily needs for hygiene are major contributors of plastic waste, toothbrushes chief among them. You can help reduce it by adopting bamboo toothbrushes, which degrade naturally after you dispose of them. To take it a step further, you can also use brushes with natural fibers instead of synthetic ones, so you won’t have to worry about the entire thing once you’re done.
There are also silk dental flosses instead of synthetic ones, deodorant bars instead of those in mixed-plastic containers that are hard to recycle, or non-static wooden combs.
The biggest changes often start with one step, and that could come from you. With these small and easy tips for saving energy and cutting down on plastics, you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing your part in helping the Earth recover.