5 Ways to Support a Healthier Planet

From fresh air, a boundless choice of delicious foods, and companionship to the raw materials to create clothing, shelter, and even timeless works of art, we depend on this planet for our very lives.

But in order for Mother Earth to continue supporting us, we need to show her some love in return. Here are five simple ways to be kind to her so she can continue to provide for us during our lifetime and for many generations to come.

1. Use Less Water

Although about 70% of the earth is covered with water, less than 1% of that water is actually drinkable.1 That’s why it’s so important not to waste our precious, limited supply. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to be thirsty—staying hydrated is essential to good health!

Reducing water waste is more about keeping an eye on what’s literally going down the drain right under your nose. You’ll save lots of water by just waiting until the dishwasher is full before running it, using low-flow shower heads, taking shorter showers, and turning off the tap while washing your hands or brushing your teeth. It’s also helpful to fix any plumbing leaks—all those annoying little drips really add up!

Toilets can account for almost a quarter of home water use, but thankfully no one would recommend giving up flushing altogether. You’ve got some much more aesthetically pleasing options for reducing water consumption:

• Consider replacing older toilets, which can use as much as seven gallons per flush, with low-flow models using as little as 1.6 gallons. If a new toilet isn’t in your budget, simply place a large plastic bottle filled with water in your tank.

• Reserve toilets for their original purpose rather than wasting extra flushes on used tissues (or other garbage that might also clog plumbing.)

• Instead of letting shower water go down the drain, catch it in a bucket and pour it into your toilet tank after flushing to power future flushes.

• Although it does sound kind of yucky, the old “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” advice saves a significant volume of water.

2. Go Veg (Or At Least Take Steps in That Direction…)

Meat, eggs, dairy, and fish have become an integral part of our culture, but the hard truth is that putting animal foods on your plate is really tough on our planet. The process of getting meat to the table increases greenhouse gases, and consumes more fossil fuels, water, and land than growing plant foods. Animal wastes from the meat industry can also contaminate our precious waterways. And to add to the problem, meat production leads to dangerous soil erosion, and massive amounts of grain and corn that could help ease world hunger are instead earmarked for animal feed.2

Adopting a delicious vegan diet is the kindest thing you can do for the planet (and the animals!), but if that seems overwhelming, know that it doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” diet overhaul to make a difference. One study done at Loma Linda University found that vegetarian diets contributed one-third less greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than meat-based eating, and even semi-vegetarian diets reduced greenhouse gas impact by one-fifth.3

Whatever your food choices, you can further reduce your carbon footprint by eating as locally as possible. Purchasing foods grown close to home means less gas needed for transportation and less electricity for refrigeration, with the added benefit of fresher, better tasting meals.

3. Generate Less Garbage

It’s easy to forget about what’s casually tossed in the trash, but let’s face it; that garbage has to go somewhere, and the amount of waste humans produce puts a major strain on our planet. It’s bad enough that the earth has limited space for landfills—some of our trash doesn’t even make it to these destinations, and instead ends up accumulating in giant “garbage patches” spanning vast sections of our oceans!4

But what’s a person supposed to do with all the stuff they no longer want? The good news is reducing your “garbage footprint” isn’t as tough as it sounds:

• Donate unwanted clothing and household items to charity for good karma and a tax writeoff. Or, sell these items privately to someone who could use them.

Recycle glass, plastic, cans, cardboard, and paper.

• Replace one-time use items (like plastic water bottles, napkins, and straws) with long-term options made from sustainable materials.

• Find creative ways to repurpose items that might otherwise end up in the trash.

• Compost biodegradable waste like plant-based food scraps, coffee filters, tea bags, and even some paper to improve soil quality while slashing garbage volume.

• Hang onto possessions as long as they’re useful, rather than replacing them as soon as their novelty wears off.

• Go paperless with eStatements, online banking, and online bill pay.

4. Shop Mindfully

A reuse, repurpose, and recycle philosophy only goes so far—sometimes shopping is still an absolute necessity. So it’s a good thing that shopping and being kind to the earth aren’t inherently diametrically opposed. Keep an eye out for items made from safe, natural substances that come with biodegradable packaging. And when possible, avoid products with an excessive amount of packaging.

It’s also helpful to bring your own reusable bags when you shop, to ease the burden on already bulging landfills. Finally, to really minimize your shopping footprint, check out consignment shops, yard sales, and online sites featuring all kinds of vintage and gently used treasures.

5. Live Small for the Larger Good

Downsizing often has a negative association, but it isn’t always a bad thing. Somehow, letting go of what’s no longer needed and consuming fewer resources transforms life into a more authentic and satisfying experience, while making the planet’s job of supporting us so much easier.

The mileage you rack up is a great place to start scaling down. Consider carpooling or using public transportation if that’s feasible, or perhaps finding a job closer to home where you can bike, walk, or at least use less gas commuting than you do currently. If you can swing a telecommuting arrangement, better yet! You might also want to explore “staycations” rather than flying somewhere distant for every vacation.

At home, little tweaks like turning the heat down (or the A/C up) a few degrees and insulating properly make a big impact. And investing in a two or multi-zone thermostat means you’re not wasting energy heating or cooling unoccupied rooms. If you’ve got a lot of extra unused space, you may even want to think about a smaller, more energy efficient house, condo, or apartment.

The tiny house, minimalist movement is taking off for good reason. Along with being gentler on the planet, these uncluttered lifestyle choices give you permission to no longer keep up with the Jones’s so you can simplify and spend your time and energy enjoying what really matters in life (as opposed to maintaining your collection of “stuff”).

Regardless of the best way forward for you, keep in mind that treating Mother Earth with loving kindness ultimately comes back around by creating the best possible space for you, your loved ones, and all the planet’s diverse life forms to thrive.

References:

1. WaterSense Statistics & Facts | WaterSense | US EPA -. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/about_us/facts.html

2. Living without Meat – Our Planet, Our Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://blog.epa.gov/blog/2010/04/living-without-meat/

3. Soret, S., Mejia, A., Batech, M., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Harwatt, H., & Sabate, J. (2014). Climate change mitigation and health effects of varied dietary patterns in real-life settings throughout North America. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100(Supplement_1), 490S-495S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.071589

4. | OR&R's Marine Debris Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/patch.html

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Roberta Pescow is a writer at Hyperbiotics and proud mom of two amazing and unique young men. Natural wellness is a subject she’s passionate about, so she loves sharing information that helps others discover all the ways probiotics support glowing health and well-being. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.

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