Keeping Our Earth Clean: Ways to Go Green

I am proud to be a tree-hugger! Everyday, I thank the Universe for the beautiful and glorious earth I am blessed enough to lay my eyes on. I try to never take for granted how majestic the trees look as they dance in the wind, or the way the birds sing to me so beautifully in the morning. Many people become so amazed with the wonder of the earth that it moves them to tears. I have experienced this myself on numerous occasions, and have strengthened my bond to mother earth, and as my friend Priyanka says, the “plant spirits.” In a world where everything is composed of energy, it is so vital to soak up the nutrient rich earth with our bare feet when the opportunity presents itself. Just this past weekend, a group of me and my friends danced barefoot in the grass at golden hour, the most glorious time of day when the sun descends, and moved around to music while the wind played with our hair and we connected with the freshness of the air. As creatures of earth, we should be lovers of earth, and respect our planet for its wisdom, strength, and adaptability. We all have the means to treat every day like Earth Day.

fox love GIF by Animation Domination High-Def

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Whether your favorite nature spot is the beach, the mountains, the creek, the desert, an island, the forest... the earth is always changing and miraculously transforming into something beautiful. It is our responsibility to care for our earth like we LOVE it. There is NO Planet B, and it’s time to take action before it’s too late. With glaciers melting, land going underwater, dead zones spreading, fossil fuels burning and more, it is not too late to implement renewable energy and live as responsible adults to lessen our carbon footprint. It is our duty right now to serve the earth better.

climate change fashion GIF by Canco

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Here's some ways for how to reduce your carbon footprint and Go Green.

  1. 1. Ditch plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic takeout containers, plastic wrap...anything that’s single-use plastic, basically.

    In a world full of plastic, something we certainly don’t need more of is plastic. Many people have a basic understanding that plastic is harming our ecosystem and earth, but do you actually know why it’s bad? There are many reasons, but I’ll inform you on a few.

    To start, there is no “away.” Much of the plastic that has ever been produced still exists today. Anything from toothbrush handles to disposable cutlery, packaging of food, and other items. Why do we care? Plastic cannot biodegrade and breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, so particularly single use plastic, which is roughly 33% of all plastics, is an absolute murder to our earth.

    When it rains, chemicals from the plastic go into the ground. This affects our groundwater, because plastic from landfills seep into our waters thus risking entrance to our bodies. One study claims that plastic found in the ocean is even contaminating ocean-sourced table salt! Recent studies have also found microplastics in 83% of tap water samples taken from across the US, plus in 93% of America’s top BOTTLED WATER brands. Yep, that’s right. Your bottled water may have plastic in it.

    Plastic poisons not only us, but our food chain as well. If you choose to eat fish, it is very possible that you are eating plastic too, and plastic is extremely detrimental to the human body. Since plastic breaks down into extremely small microplastics, fish consume them, which means if you are consuming fish, you are consuming plastic as well. Although fish pass the plastic through feces, the chemicals remain in their flesh. Plastic enters our ocean via our clothes, physical pieces of plastic, etc. Since plankton consume plastic, this throws off the entire marine ecosystem and is extremely harmful. Here's some other facts about how harmful plastic can be:

    - Plastic either builds up, gets burned, or finds a home in a landfill. When plastic gets burned, it releases carbon monoxide along with other poisonous gases.

    - Plastic is also killing wildlife at a rapid rate, and it is painfully sad. Maybe it’s your six pack wrapper strangling a bird, a straw that suffocated a sea- turtle, or a shark entangled in net wrappings. You have the power to curb this madness and help protect our beloved marine life.

    You may find it difficult to implement alternatives to plastic in your life, but it’s really easy once you get the hang of it!

    In my opinion, one of the most wasteful single use items are water bottles. Get yourself a nice reusable water bottle and fill it up with filtered water you are certain is clean. Bottled water is tap water with flavoring anyway (surprise) and you already learned that top brands have microplastics found in them. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, "It's important to note that the federal government does not require bottled water to be safer than tap." Wow, isn’t that lovely.

    - Start by using reusable bags for your groceries, and no bags for your produce (you’ll be washing it before consumption).

    - Carry reusable plastic or stainless steel straws with you as well as utensils for when you’re on the go. It’s really not an inconvenience.

    - Invest in tupperware for your food. This one is a no brainer. But, try bringing your tupperware with you to places where you may go out to eat, so you can avoid using a takeout box.

    - Shop in bulk; bring mason jars! Zero or low waste can be a fun way to keep your pantry organized and neat.

    - Instead of plastic wrap, use silicone lids. Instead of aluminum foil, use a silicone baking sheet.

    - Stop purchasing dryer sheets, and get yourself a low waste dryer ball to speed up drying time and refresh your clothes. OR, avoid your dryer completely and hang dry like I do!

    - Bamboo toothbrushes- yes they are a thing and they are so cool and biodegradable.

    - Bar soap vs. liquid soap (less packaging)

    - For ladies- menstrual cup vs. pads/ tampons. I am personally not at this level of low waste yet, but I am considering it for the future. After all, change doesn’t happen overnight.

  2. 2. Go Vegan- obviously you knew that would be in this article ;)

    So many people don't realize that animal agriculture is a huge aspect of the destruction of the environment. According to Cowspiracy, a renowned documentary exposing the harmful effects of the factory farm industry, the main contributor to the destruction of rainforests is due to animal agriculture. To be exact, it is responsible for 90% of Amazon destruction, with 1-2 acres of rainforest cleared every second. This also results in plant, animal, and insect species being lost. Also, to raise one cow that will endure a premature death by 15 years for your consumption of meat, it takes 2500 gallons of water (to produce one pound of beef.) Cow poop makes methane gas...like a lot. According to Cowspiracy, “Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.” This is harmful to the environment, and there are not enough trees to absorb the emissions, which would curb its harmful effects. I invite you to fact check me. Even if these statistics are mildly outdated, they encapsulate my point to the necessary extent  and cannot be dismissed.

    Some more stats to know:

    - 1000 gallons of water are used to produce 1 gallon of milk.

    - “Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.” -Cowspiracy

    - “82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries.” -CowspiracyHello this is importat!

    - 63 billion lbs of fish caught globally are discarded as a result of by-kill, unintentional fishing for a specific species. This will potentially leave us with fishless oceans by the year 2048. Fishless oceans will destroy our entire ecosystem.

    You should really consider going vegan for a multitude of reasons. If you love the environment, that should be enough of a reason. By the way, it’s easier than you think.

  3. 3. Choose thrifted/ recycled/ second-hand clothes as opposed to fast fashion

    I am a huge fan of thrifting and second hand clothing. There are so many benefits to it. When speaking about minimalism, a friend mentioned, “There's so much on this earth exists already. It's not going anywhere.” This really resonated with me, and made me want to stop contributing to a life of wastefulness.

    When you thrift, you save heaps of money without sacrificing high quality clothes nor brand names (if that's something important to you. You own unique items that potentially no one else owns at this moment in time. Embrace it!  Be your own trendsetter, and be proud of thrifting when people ask you where you scored such a compliment worthy piece. You can also organize a clothes swap with friends. One’s trash is another's treasure, and who can say no to free clothes? Not me.

    Have you ever heard the term 'fast fashion'? I recently did and was fascinated that the origin of my easily accessible clothing had never crossed my mind, not even once.

    Fast fashion is a term to describe clothes that are rapidly produced to cater to the needs of updated styles in the fashion world. This translates to exploiting factory workers overseas by mandating unsafe working conditions. About less than 2% of clothing is manufactured in the U.S., which allows for inexpensive clothes.

  4. 4. 4. Implement composting!

    Composting is an extremely beneficial way to rid of old good scraps, and put it back into the earth to make nutrients. Plants nourished with soil created by compost are the best way to put food back into the earth in a nutrient-rich fashion.

    So how can you start your own at home compost?

    It's easier than you think to start your own at home compost - even if it is at a small scale. First, start off by putting aside a container where you can store uneaten food(no meat or processed food.) You can also put scraps that would otherwise end up in the trash such as banana peels and vegetable skins. The key to a healthy compost is that it includes more carbon than nitrogen. This is important. Lay some twigs a few inches directly into the grass, making sure it's away from where animals can get to it. Moist and dry materials should be alternating. For example, tea bags followed by dry scraps. Blades of grass should compose a layer. It should be kept moist, yet covered so as to not become soaked by the rain. And last but not least, turn it like a salad to oxygenated your compost as well as speed up the process. This end result of soil can be used to feed your plants and garden, but should not exclusively take the place of soil.

As an environmentalist, I firmly believe there are a ton of ways we can massively reduce our carbon footprint, and love the world the way it deserves to be loved. Some other ways to love your earth is to:

  • STOP LITTERING ya filthy animal! Your litter ends up killing our beautiful creatures of the earth. Your litter lines our streets. Your litter enters our oceans through water drains. Your litter will get you fined (as it should). Your litter needs to stop right now.

  • Stop using poisonous weed killers. Bees’ main source of food is some of the weeds you are killing, like dandelions, which are in turn massively deteriorating the bee population. Without bees, there can be no fertilization of crops, and thus farmers are out of business, which means we will all have no food. Yep, good stuff.

  • Stop wasting resources. This includes taking excessively long showers, running half empty dishwashers and/or washing machines, blasting the AC, throwing away edible food, keeping lights on when you go out all night long, etc.

By incorporating even one of some, or ALL (yay) of these things into your daily life, you will be massively saving our earth. The most important responsibility that you have as an individual is to never stop learning about ways to care for our environment. I believe in you. We can change the world together, and we will.

Xo, Susie