9½ Ways to be More Environmentally Friendly at Home
By Luke Kilian
There are two common questions that we get when we speak to people about sustainable living: why should I be the one to do it when no one else seems to care and why should I do it when I can’t make a big difference. We thought it would be helpful to put them below in writing, with our response included before we talk about the 9½ ways to be more environmentally friendly at home.
Why should I be environmentally conscious when no one seems to care?
Why should you care when no one else does? Moreover, you have a busy life filled with work and family commitments, do you even have the time to go that extra mile? Here is the response that we want to give you and it is a core value for us at Greenpop: if you don’t believe that something is right, then do something about it. It is one thing to say that we need to change, another thing to act on your conviction. Follow these steps and you will be able to say that you are doing something about it.
The world is a fine place, worth fighting for – Ernest Hemingway
Even if I am environmentally conscious, how can I possibly make a difference? I’m only one person, and I’m not the president!
Football Coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) makes a speech to his players before an important playoff match in the movie Any Given Sunday, here is an excerpt:
“You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean one half step too late or to early you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in ever break of the game every minute, every second. On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our finger nails for that inch. Cause we know when we add up all those inches that’s going to make the difference between winning and losing between living and dying.”
Football, as with life, is a game of inches. Every inch counts.
Although this speech is about a football match, we can apply it to life. The meaning behind this speech from Al Pacino is that the small things count. Once you add them all up, it makes the difference.
You’re starter pack to becoming a difference-maker
So here are the 9½ things that you can do at home to minimise your footprint. We could have just left it at 9 for the sake of having a whole number, however, we, too, believe that every small thing counts!
1. Question yourself before you buy things, online or in the shop. Consider if you really need it? Will you use it a lot? If the answer is still yes, consider if there is a way to buy it secondhand? Perhaps go to a thrift shop if you are looking for clothes. The planet and your wallet might thank you!
2. Recycle. Now we’re not only talking about separating your plastics from your organic waste at the bins here… be mindful of everything you throw away, could you use it again? Maybe someone else would want it? A glass jar for instance could serve as a place to store your coffee. Read our blog post on how to separate to recycle for more.
Glass jars are a great way to reinvent how you store food.
3. Buy a water filter! If you don’t think your tap water is good enough, consider getting a water filter instead of purchasing plastic bottles of water every week. Water filters are proven to effectively remove dangerous water contaminants.
4. Use a wash bag! What is a wash bag you ask? When you wash your clothes in the washing machine, countless microplastics from synthetic textiles come off and soon end up in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. A wash bag retains these microfibres which you can dispose of after your wash. See here how it works!
Wash bags are proven to retain microplastics.
5. Promote environmentally friendly behaviour. If they give you a styrofoam takeaway box at your local restaurant, ask them why they haven’t changed to giving cardboard boxes. Ask your friend where their recycling bin is if you can’t see it. Inspire those around you with these lifestyle changes and don’t be afraid to speak up.
6. Vary your diet! If you’re a big meat-eater and can’t imagine your day without eating meat, start small. Make a commitment to not eat meat one day of the week. Not only is it better for the environment but also better for your health.
7. Plant something on your property. It could be a tree, or it could be a row of spring onions. Each has their benefits. We feel there is an added bonus of planting something; the fulfilling experience of seeing something grow each day. Read our blog post on urban greening and the health benefits of being closer to nature.
Plant something and watch it grow.
8. Bring reusable bags with you when you leave the house or keep them in the boot of your car. You never know when you’ll need it. When the moment arises and the store clerk asks if you need a plastic bag, smile and say ‘no thanks.’
9. Drive with your friends. Besides the environmental benefits, do so for a happier life! There is the old adage: if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.
Drive together to help reduce the harmful impact of greenhouse emissions.
9½. The easiest thing to do from this whole list but not necessarily the least impactful is to click the share button below. Send it to your brother, your aunt, your cousin’s friend who you met that one morning on a hike, whoever you think might be open to following these steps. Think about it: you’re only a click away from completing your first half-step to becoming more environmentally friendly.
Let’s bring change, inch by inch
And yes you are totally right. We can’t do this all on our own. We need the government and the private sector to play their part; they have the power to make a significant impact. However, we can’t sit idly by and do nothing; we have to act too! To quote Tony D’Amato again: ‘life is a game of inches.’ Every little thing counts. Let’s demand a bit more from ourselves and help bring change inch by inch.
If you would like to know more ways to be environmentally friendly, you can find some extra tips here.
The community members from Christel House South Africa are an inspiring testament to the impact food gardening has.
Greenpop’s Fynbos for the Future programme aims to activate change on the ground in local schools. Principal, Tanya van Graan shares more.
PETCO taught us all about effective recycling, up-cycling, and separating organic waste from recyclables at our Eden FOA.
Greenpop Foundation NPC is a registered non-profit organisation. Registration Number (NPO): 151-411 NPO.