10 Easy Ways To Help The Environment

Having a clean and healthy environment around us is one of the key components to good health.

We’ve talked about how we can purify the air we breathe inside, by adding houseplants (which also protect us from EMF exposure) as well as finding Healthier Ways to Clean Your House, but what about the environment and other pollutants?

Today's episode is a must-see if you care about the planet and helping the environment! We share our favorite environmental tips for busy people. You can affect so much positive change with such small shifts! Not to mention, having a clean environment = good health for you and your loved ones.

Common Air Pollutants

Common air pollutants include particulate matter, Ozone, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. These pollutants can be detrimental to our health as well as to Mother Nature and our furry animal friends.

For example, while nitrogen is one of the most abundant elements in our air, excess nitrogen in our air (from fossil fuels, wastewater, agriculture practices, fertilizers, soaps and detergents to name a few) can impair our ability to breathe, disrupt plant growth, and cause algae to grow at an alarming speed, creating a decrease in oxygen, which fish need to survive.

How Plastic Use Affects Our Wildlife

The use of plastic (and the disposal of it) creates water pollution and affects wildlife.

Each year 8 million tons of plastics leak into the ocean—it’s the same as if we were dumping the contents of a garbage truck into the ocean every minute!

Not to mention, the use of plastic can disrupt our health—it can disrupt our hormones and our immune system and it contains chemicals such as BPA and phthalates which have been connected to cancer.

Understanding the Different Types of Plastic

On every plastic container, there is a recycling symbol with a number inside ranging from 1-7.

Plastic #1– Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET) is clear in color. Disposable beverage and food containers and household cleaning products containers are typically #1.

Plastic #2– High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is commonly used to make milk jugs, juice bottles, and detergent bottles. This type of plastic is typically accepted in recycling programs.

Plastic #3– Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. This is typically used to make the bottles which cooking oil is stored in, shower curtains (yes!), and inflatable mattresses. Plastic #3 contains phthalates as a softening chemical, which has been shown to disrupt hormones. This type of plastic is often not recyclable.

Plastic #4– Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is the plastic used to make grocery bags, dog-waste bags, and bread bags. LDPE is not able to be recycled.

Plastic #5– Polypropylene (PP) plastic is found in yogurt cups, ketchup bottles, and Tupperware. PP is heat resistant and often able to be microwaved, although we do not recommend doing so. PP is often recyclable.

Plastic #6– Styrofoam or Polystyrene is used to create take-out containers, disposable cups, and packing peanuts. Avoiding this type of plastic is recommended, as it contains harmful chemicals and does not decompose.

Plastic #7– Includes bioplastics, polycarbonate, and BPA, which is used to make sports equipment, water bottles, and CD’s/DVD’s. These types of plastics are often not able to be recycled in most recycling programs.

10 Easy Things We Can Do To Help The Environment

1. Nix the Straws

America uses 500 million plastic straws a day and most of them end up in the ocean, polluting the water and killing marine life. Strawless Ocean, an organization that is taking action against the use of single-use plastic straws says that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Straws are one of the top 10 greatest threats to fish, coral reefs, and sea turtles. Our entire team gave them up for Earth Day. Try some alternatives such as glass, bamboo, or stainless steel straws and use the hashtag #stopsucking to join the movement.

2. Reusable Grocery Bags

In America, we use over 102 billion plastic bags a year. Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds die from plastic pollution every year. Plastic bags are banned in certain states such as California and Hawaii. Even so, we don’t need to choose paper every time we go to the grocery store. Instead, bring your reusable bags with you. Or purchase the ones that close up tightly that you can keep in your purse in case you’re like me and forget to grab them out of your trunk before you head into the store.

3. Bring Your Own Coffee Cup

We use an average of 60 billion paper cups in the US every year. Add the fact that because of their plastic liner and lids, they are full of BPA and phthalates which are pro-estrogenic (a no for healthy hormones) and these are a double no no. We love S’well bottles or better yet, get the collapsible silicone coffee mugs so you can keep them in your purse or glove box for when you want to grab a coffee (or smoothie) on the go.

4. Recyclable Bottles & Glass Containers

Buying in bulk and packing foods in mason jars or other containers is a great way to cut down on single-use jars, containers, and bags. Polystyrene foam or styrofoam should always be avoided as it never fully degrades. We love mason jars and the glass reusable water bottles with the bamboo lids.

5. Biodegradable Dog Bags

Using 2-3 bags a day per pet adds up to a lot of bags used daily in America. Make sure you buy the bags that are made from recycled materials and the ones that biodegrade. Finding ones that are made from renewable resources such as plant starches, vegetable oils and corn can reduce the environmental impact of dog waste. We love these.

6. Cut the Snail Junk Mail

Download the app paperkarma.com and snap a picture of the junk mail you get. They will take care of removing you from their mailing list or unsubscribing you. This makes for less unnecessary clutter too!

7. Reduce Paper Consumption

Choosing cloth napkins over paper napkins or paper towels is a great way to cut down on paper, as is printing double-sided or reading that book on your Kindle instead of printing it out. Switching to e-billing can also cut down on paper use.

8. Recycle Smart

When mixing non-recyclables with recyclables, everyone misses out. Plastic is made to last forever, yet over 50% of it is used once and thrown away, hence the term single-use plastic. Not to mention, the EPA estimates that typically only 12% of the plastic placed in recycling bins actually gets recycled. Be sure to follow your city’s guidelines for the latest up-to-date recycling options, otherwise, you may be hindering your own recycling efforts. Typically, #1 PETE/PET and #2 HDPE are the most commonly recycled plastics.

9. Reduce Energy 

Turn off lights when not in the home or when you leave the room and use CFL light bulbs which use 70% less energy than traditional bulbs—or better yet, use LED bulbs, which are even more efficient. Look for the energy star labels on the box. Using motion-sensor lights can be a great way to avoid having lights on for several hours at a time. Unplugging your electronics when not in use or using a power strip to turn them off are other great ways to reduce energy consumption and not to mention, your electric bill! Dialing up your thermostat just two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter can save over 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year!

If you live in an urban community, biking to work or dinner can be a great way to cut down your carbon footprint and get some exercise. Most cities now have bike share programs and are very affordable.

10: Purchase Condiments in Glass Containers

Try to find condiments and other items in glass containers and not plastic and reuse your shampoo bottles by using Plaine Products or a similar clean company. Plaine Products create sustainable packaging systems using aluminum bottles, which are returnable, refillable and reusable! They are also offering new TWJ customers 10% off your first order with code TWJ, shop now.

Data sources such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Greenhouse Gas Inventory and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council serve as great resources for providing us with the most accurate and up-to-date facts and information on the state of our environment.

Mind-Blowing Facts About The Environment You Should Know:

  • Plastic is made to last forever, yet 50% of it is used once and thrown away, hence the term single-use plastic.
  • Unless we make a change by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.
  • Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds die from plastic pollution every year.
  • Disposed plastic materials can remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years or more.
  • More than 5 trillion plastic pieces, weighing over 250,000 tons, are afloat at sea.
  • Each year, 8 million tons of plastics leak into the ocean—it’s the same as if we were dumping the contents of a garbage truck into the ocean every minute.
  • Every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists.

Our Responsibility

While there are different viewpoints and recommendations when it comes to caring for the environment, we can all agree on one thing, we need to protect our home and Mother Earth—not just for ourselves and our current state of health but for future generations. It is our responsibility because if we don’t do it, who will? There is no proverbial “they.” Each and every one of us has to make a commitment to hold ourselves accountable in order for positive changes to make a big impact.

Trying just a few of these recommendations can lead to big payoffs in the way of decreasing our carbon footprint and increasing our health.

Let us know in the comments which one(s) you’ll be trying and tell us if you can also commit to doing one new thing each month to support the environment.

The Lazy Environmentalist

Listen to the Audio File (mp3) of this episode.