Stop being passive about going green

During the Obama administration, it seemed as if government would take charge in regards to environmental issues. The United States agreed to the Paris climate accords and Obama passed the Clean Power Plan. However, these progressive decisions were disregarded with the arrival of a new president.

President Trump himself called climate change a “hoax.” EPA director Scott Pruitt– a man with no science background– does not believe in the connection between carbon dioxide and a rise in temperature. Over the summer, Trump announced his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accords, and now, Pruitt is repealing the Clean Power Plan.  

While the United States government will not take action in regards to environmental sustainability, ordinary citizens still have the ability to enact change. It is imperative, now more than ever, that we take action as individual citizens.

Though one person’s actions seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, every small action adds up. We have the power to make a much larger difference by continually contributing in any way we can, no matter how nonessential it looks. We must start actively working towards the causes we care about.

Here are some ways to start:

1.) Carpool with friends

Carpooling reduces the amount of cars on the road, so there are less emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. These pollutants react in the environment, causing photochemical smog and ground-level ozone, which are damaging to human health. Ground-level ozone and smog irritate the respiratory system and cause lung inflammation. Instead of using separate cars to reach the same place, going together is much more efficient in preserving clean and safe air.

2.) Recycle clothing

Every time something new needs to be created, factories expend energy, which releases harmful emissions like carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. Obtaining the natural resources to create a product also takes a toll on the environment, since materials like coal, water and petroleum are often necessary in the production of textiles, specifically polyester fabrics. These nonrenewable resources require mining, which damages the land, releases particulate matter, emits greenhouse gases and can pollute water sources nearby. By buying recycled or repurposed clothing, less energy is being used, thus the environmental impact will be lower. Thrift stores, which are filled with recycled clothing, also prevent the items from ending up in landfills. According to the EPA, in America alone we produce 15.1 million tons of textile waste. The best way to lower the amount of waste in landfills is to prevent it from ending up there in the first place.

3.) Make sure your dishwasher and laundry detergents have low phosphate contents

Phosphates from detergent often end up in small bodies of water, which wreaks havoc on the ecosystems by causing cultural eutrophication. Cultural eutrophication results in the deoxygenation of water, ultimately killing the organisms living in the affected waters. Cascade All in 1 and Finish Quantum are both very low in phosphates.

4.) Make sure to recycle

This might sound obvious, but tons of recyclable items actually end up in trash dumps: as the EPA reports, only 34.3 percent of Americans recycle plastic. Remembering to put your trash in the right bin reduces the amount of unnecessary waste in landfills. Paper, plastic and aluminum are recyclable.

5.) Buy fish that was captured with sustainable methods

The fishing industry often uses unsustainable methods that deplete resources and damage oceanic ecosystems. “Bycatch”– any unintended species captured while fishing– ends up dead and thrown back into the ocean. However, some industries ensure that their methods are ecologically safe, so before you buy fish, make sure the company is FOS certified or marked Dolphin-safe. Also, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood app can help you make smart, sustainable choices by providing detailed information about the fish you are buying. Also, certain brands like Wild Planet and Ocean Naturals provide eco-safe fish to consumers.

 

Of course, there are thousands of other ways to make sure your lifestyle is more sustainable, but implementing these five suggestions can greatly lower your negative impact on the environment.

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