Saturday, January 23, 2016

Enviro-Hack Your Life

I think we can all pretty much agree that we love our Earth.  I mean, without her, none of us would be here.  She's literally what "here" is.  But she's also really sick.  Years of environmental mistreatment (carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation, overfishing, pollution, etc., etc., etc.) have really taken their toll on her, and if we don't do something to change our ways now, we may never get a chance to save her.  Global temperatures are supposed to continue to rise over the next several decades, possibly increasing between 2.5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit within the next hundred years (IPCC and NASA). This increase will have different impacts on different parts of the world, but it'll cause big problems in terms of melting sea ice and crazy weather (like what we're having now, for instance).  Depressing side-effects of global warming aside, though, what are we supposed to do to make things better?  Contrary to how we may feel, we're actually not powerless when it comes to saving the world.  Small changes can make big differences.  Here are some of my favorite #enviro-hacks.

  1. Thrift. I love thrifting because I find things that I can actually afford, and, as it turns out, thrifting is also really good for the environment! It takes over 2,500 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans (Chang), but by buying a used pair, we help eliminate the need for all that water.  I mean, who said vintage jeans aren’t as good as new jeans?
  2. Upcycle your wardrobe.  It’s like recycling, only with a sewing touch.  Take old clothes--things you’ve torn or stained, things that don’t totally fit anymore--and make them like new again by sewing them together.
  3. Recycle paper media. Donate books to a library or nonprofit, and repurpose magazines and newspapers into art projects.  Paper doll collages!  Paper beads!  School posters!
  4. Find reusable containers.  The chemicals in plastic bottles aren’t great for you or for Earth.  Reusable water bottles and food containers may be a bit pricey, but they’re worth it in the long run.  If you can’t afford them or simply want to be more unique, you can try to find your own vintage bottles and containers.  Think mason jars and old Italian sparkling water bottles--they’re chic, different, and bohemian, and they look adorable storing everything from buttons to beads to brown rice.  
  5. Buy local produce and avoid factory farms.  Living in the city can make it difficult to imagine getting food from a farm, but farmers’ markets and specialty grocery stores make it more accessible, and it’s worth it for your health and the planet’s.  Also, be sure to avoid factory farm-raised meats if you’re going to eat meat. Animals given antibiotics in their feed can get infections that are resistant to drug treatments, and factory farm animals are horribly abused, many of them torn from their families and kept in cages so small that they can hardly move around.
  6. Play Tetris.  Okay, I know this idea seems a bit unusual, but I’m not talking about 1980s videogames.  I’m talking about dishwashers!  When you load your dishwasher, put the dishes in it in an efficient, space-conscious way in order to make sure that you fit as much as possible.  It’s a surprisingly tricky task, but it can be totally fun if you make a game out of it. Just make sure none of your dishes disappear the way Tetris blocks do....  
  7. Shorten your showers and get a low-flow shower head. If everyone had a low-flow shower head, 50% less water would be wasted per shower. And if everyone took an 8-minute shower, only 20 gallons of water would be used per shower, which is a lot less than the 55 gallons used for a 15-minute shower with an average-flow head.
  8. Garden.  Even just a few flowers in a pot on your porch can help contribute to the preservation of the natural world, and there are even some plants that help save the bees.  Saving them is really important for the long-term survival of life as we know it.

 <3 Frances

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