6 Eco-Smart Choices for a Greener Earth

Let’s look at some chilling facts about our world’s climate crisis.

The annual global energy consumption for 2023 is estimated to be 580 million terajoules. Looking at a broader time frame, from 1980 to 2050, global energy usage could triple from approximately 300 to 900 million terajoules. To put this into perspective, our current energy consumption is akin to the energy released by the Hiroshima nuclear bomb every four seconds.

NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory has also revealed that the global average carbon dioxide concentration in May 2022 reached 421 ppm—the highest level observed since the mid-Pliocene, a staggering 2 to 4 million years ago. 

In the last decade, renewable energy grew by just 3%, not nearly enough compared to our 18% rise in energy needs. James Hansen has long warned that we are hurtling into a superheated climate. If we don’t take concrete actions to reverse this soon, we’re all heading for our doom. 

So what can we do? Remember, one small spark is enough to light a massive fire. From simply turning off your electric devices that aren’t being used to growing your own food, every small change can make a significant positive impact. 

1. Conserve energy.

To save energy at home and produce some of your own, installing your own home solar system is a great start. Though they have a high upfront cost, solar panels can power important parts of your home, like heating and lighting for outdoor areas or animal coops. They use renewable energy from the sun, which reduces your reliance on non-renewable energy sources and lowers your electricity bills.

Try to use natural light in your house as much as possible. Open the curtains during the day instead of turning on the lights. When you need artificial lights, like at nighttime, replace traditional light bulbs with LEDs. They’re up to 80% more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent lights and have a longer lifespan, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run​.

Be mindful of how many electronics you use and leave on, especially outside. Unplugging devices when not in use can stop them from using extra energy. This is known as phantom energy use, or “vampire load.” For outdoor lighting, motion-sensor or solar lights are a good choice because they only turn on when needed. This helps you save energy and reduce your electric bill.

2. Conserve water. 

Water, an absolute necessity but one that we often take for granted until our bodies get sick without it. Everyone knows we should conserve our water, but how many of us actually do it? 

The first step to conserving water is always being mindful of how long you run it. Turn off taps while brushing teeth or washing dishes, and opt for shorter showers. And speaking of showers, installing low-flow showerheads and faucets and using water-efficient appliances can also significantly cut down water use. Fixing leaks promptly, using a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways, and using water-saving settings on appliances can also help you save so much on your water bill.

In your garden, collecting rainwater to water plants is a great way to conserve water. Rainwater is also better for your garden since it’s untreated. Mulching around plants is another smart strategy, as it helps retain soil moisture and reduces the frequency of watering needed.

3. Recycle properly.

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There’s recycling, and then there’s recycling properly

If you’re simply throwing items into recycling bins without checking if they’re actually recyclable, you run the risk of contaminating other items that can actually be recycled. This leads to delays, increased costs, and more waste as contaminated loads often end up in landfills. Common items that are mistakenly put in recycling bins include multi-material products, broken glass, e-waste, and certain plastics, particularly those with food or liquid residue.

Since recycling rules vary by location, check with your local recycling program to see which items they accept. For example, while plastic bottles, jars, and metal cans are commonly recyclable, they need to be clean of food residue. On the other hand, items like disposable takeout containers or pizza boxes, often a source of confusion due to grease or oily stains, may or may not be accepted depending on your local guidelines.

4. Be a conscientious shopper.

How do you become a conscientious shopper? Choosing brands that value the environment and fair work practices is a good start. These companies use eco-friendly materials and treat their workers well. Also, opting for products with less packaging helps reduce waste. This packaging should ideally be recyclable or biodegradable. 

It’s also important to make thoughtful purchases. Before buying something, think about whether you really need it. Delay buying that item for a day and see if you still need it the day after. This approach helps avoid unnecessary waste. 

Picking high-quality items that last longer means you won’t have to replace them as often, which is both eco-friendly and economical in the long run. Moreover, using reusable items like bags and water bottles instead of single-use plastics can significantly cut down on pollution. Choosing local, organic, and fair trade products is also beneficial.

5. Try edible landscaping.

Growing your own produce offers various benefits, starting with its positive impact on the environment. Gardens with flowering plants provide food for bees and butterflies, and replacing grass with edible plants saves water and eliminates the need for mowing. 

Growing your own fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, beans, kale, and alliums, can cut down on grocery costs by offering a plentiful harvest. It’s also common knowledge that homegrown foods are fresher and often more nutritious, as they don’t lose value after harvesting. You also have the assurance that they’re grown without harmful chemicals. 

Edible landscaping doesn’t mean sacrificing beauty for functionality. You can incorporate design principles using various edible plants, which come in different shapes, textures, and colors. Varieties like purple eggplants, red kale, and colorful flowers add visual interest. You can even create themes using plants like yellow bell peppers or purple chives. 

Gardening also serves as a great stress reliever. It’s a calming activity that promotes physical health and mental well-being. Being in your garden can have a significant positive effect on both your body and mind.

6. Have a small poultry farm.

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Having your own backyard flock for eggs is a smart move for health and fun, especially when you have your own garden. These eggs are healthier than store-bought ones because they’re fresher and come from your flock’s varied diet, which they’ve naturally foraged. This diet boosts the nutritional content of the eggs, giving them more vitamins and omega-3s and less cholesterol.

If you decide to raise poultry, remember to choose the right bird that fits your garden and backyard best. Most common choice is obviously chickens, ducks, or maybe even quails. You can also go for geese or turkeys, but they require a much, much bigger space

Make sure to provide your flock a safe living space and offer a balanced diet. Regular vet visits are important, just like with any pet. Also, make it a habit to collect eggs regularly to keep them fresh. Store these eggs in the fridge, and wash them only if they’re visibly dirty to preserve their natural protective coating.

Now Is the Time to Go Green

The state of our world may seem to be getting worse, but with the collective small efforts of everyone on the planet, there’s still hope. Simple choices like conserving water, reducing energy consumption, recycling, and supporting sustainable practices in our daily lives can create a ripple effect that encourages more people and communities to act responsibly toward the environment. With this mindset, we can create a better future for ourselves and, more importantly, for generations to come.

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