5 ways you can help the environment

Today is Blog Action Day, a day encouraging bloggers to unite about the environment. Thousands of bloggers are taking up the challenge, including Lifehacker and Treehugger, writing about the environment in a way that suits their blogs. I’ve been torn between a couple of topics, so I thought I’d cheat a bit and do a couple of posts, one today and another tomorrow to follow up. This first one is about some simple ways we all can help the environment. I’m not going to claim I do all of these all of the time, but I try to be mindful of them, and they might give you some ideas on how you can help too. 😉

5) In your home
You’d be surprised by the amount of power appliances consume even in standby mode; just having half a dozen appliances on standby is the equivalent of a 60 watt bulb. If you turn appliances off at the power point and unplug them, it can save a lot of power. Turning off lights when you’re not in the room can also save a lot of power, as can washing clothes in warm or cold water instead of hot. Using the half-flush cycle on toilets, installing a low-flow showerhead and washing dishes when there’s a full load can save a lot of water as well.

4) While shopping
Making sure your tyres are well-inflated can make a big difference in preserving the life of your tyres and saving petrol, and bringing your own shopping bags for groceries is a simple way to cut down on plastics. Buying items in bulk also reduces the need for packaging and costs less. If you drink a lot of water, using a bottle and refilling it will help to stop wasting water and buying more bottles; likewise, buying rechargeable batteries saves you money and stops metals in batteries from leaking into the soil.

3) Changing your habits
It’s probably one of the hardest things to do but changing your habits can have a big impact on the amount of waste you produce. Showering for a minute less each day can save a lot of water, as can making sure the water doesn’t run while you’re cleaning your teeth. Walking, bicycling or carpooling to work also cuts down on the amount of cars on the roads and pollution. Many people still prefer CDs over MP3s, but downloading music from somewhere like iTunes is a very simple way to help the environment; manufacturing CDs uses oil and CDs are not biodegradable, whereas MP3s only use hard-drive space.

2) Being more responsible
Being aware of the impact we have on the environment makes a big difference. Understanding that our actions and habits have a consequence means we’re more aware of the ways we can avoid them as well. Doing something as simple as recycling is a great place to start and get children involved in the process. You can actively seek out materials which are recyclable or have a lesser impact on the environment; refill printer ink cartridges or take used ones to businesses to dispose of; use recycled wood chips in your garden; put leaves in a compost heap. You can be proactive and try to make sure your taps don’t leak and make sure you keep the oven door closed so the heat doesn’t escape. Using fluorescent lighting rather than incandescent bulbs will save you money and use 1/4 the amount of energy. They’re all simple things but being aware of them, being more responsible and taking notice, makes a huge difference.

1) Sending a message
The final and perhaps most important thing you can do is to let people know how you feel. The Australian electoral campaign has just started and there’ll be elections soon overseas; don’t underestimate the power of writing to your politicians and newspapers – every letter they receive speaks for more than just your voice and while they know it’s an issue, they’ll continue to support it. Ask what your school and workplace are doing to be more environmentally friendly, or make small changes yourself to set an example. If you feel especially passionate, join a local community organisation; volunteer some of your time to help clean up beaches and parks or to talk to other people about the environment. Join WWF Passport and join with people to speak about issues and conservation. There are so many things people can do; what matters is raising environmental consciousness. And that’s what Blog Action Day is all about.

4 thoughts on “5 ways you can help the environment

  1. hi cj!

    i can personally connect to a few of the points.

    water running while i brush my teeth – it was like a must-have every morning. but then i saw this nice awareness ad in a mag about african kids having less water and how changing even this habit helps to solve the water crisis.

    not having a long shower is something that i wasn’t used to all my life. but i am a better person now 😀

    taking your own grocery bag is something i love too! there ought to be a rule for that really! i don’t know why there isn’t any.

    i know you do visit my blog once in a while, even though my posts are not worthy of your comments ……… i am requesting you to please come over and read my blogactionday post AND make a comment. it’s not everyday that bloggers are united, and maybe this is a good enough occassion to connect AND comment too! 😉

    CJ: Hey Sanjida, glad you liked my post! I connect with all these points in some way, but definitely the recycling and the running water I know very well; I used to think I’d choke unless I had running water while cleaning my teeth, but now I know better! 😉

    The main problem I have is I’m renting, so there’s only so much I can do; I’d love to be able to fix leaky taps and get a new showerhead, but you need permission for all that. So the best I can do right now is to write letters and do everything else I can to help. There should be a rule like that for bags, though. I know in the next year or so incandescent bulbs are going to be phased out over here; maybe they could do the same for plastic bags?

    I read your blog a lot more than it seems, btw! I have quite a few I frequent every day or two and your blogs are two of them. The commenting thing is my bad and it’s not just with you; it’s with Sulz, WC, Muse and everyone. It’s the time difference here in Aus, it’s literally 1am here now and I’m going to bed soon. Often by the time I get to see posts the next day, I’m not contributing anything new. But I should comment more and I’m working on it! I promise I’ll pop across to have a look at your post before I pop off for the night. 😛

  2. There’s one way of overcoming the time difference – emigrate! 😀 I’m ex-Lithgow and Sydney by way of many other places.

    My favourite way of doing something is the one you’ve put at number three – take personal responsibility and act. Far too many people want other people to do something while they do nothing themselves.

    And I really must visit your blog more often – not every other month or so. 🙂

    CJ: Hi Stonehead, you know emigration could work! I’d be able to read blogs to my heart’s content then, and the rents couldn’t be much worse than in Sydney at the moment. Maybe I should look at New Zealand; they’re an extra 2 hours ahead and I’d be in Hobbit country as well. 😀

    I think responsibility is a very important step; it’s not necessarily about being carbon neutral, but just understanding that we all have an impact on the world we live in. So often we do things because we don’t think about them; we wash dishes after every meal because it’s a habit, but we can learn a new behaviour. That’s what this whole initiative is about, raising awareness of the issues, and in the end it comes back to personal responsibility, how each of us can help in our own ways.

    Thanks for your contribution; looking forward to having a good read of your post too! 😉

  3. I really like this bloggers/unite/action concept. I’m enjoying how you speak eloquently about your commitment and with respect. I have just been reading how inefficient those old ‘Thomas Edison’ lightbulbs are. Yes, the compacts are more expensive, but if we replace one a month, by the end of the year we could have cooler and more efficient lighting thorought. Yay!
    I do the water-bottle thing already, and have just replaced an old leaky, energy-hog dishwasher with a new energy-star rated model.
    Never thought of CDs as an environmental issue. Interesting how we can look past things like that if not brought to our attention.
    Hooray for bloggers!

    CJ: Thanks Muse! I try to keep a balanced view and I think it’s important to feel passionate about an issue, but also to be able to speak with respect; otherwise the message can be lost or overpowered.

    I like your point about the lightbulbs as well. I think changing them is something everyone should do; they’re more expensive, but they actually save you money because they last longer, and you can get them in different colours if you find them too bright. It’s such an easy thing to do, there’s really no reason not to.

    Anyway, I’ll be doing my second post later… I’m not sure that will be quite as eloquent. I want to talk about the politics surrounding the environment; so if I get audited next year by whichever party wins our election, I think I’ll have done my job! 😉

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