Key Takeaways:

Learn simple steps to care for the earth while doing what you love.

In the past 200 years, oceans, the atmosphere, and local ecosystems have suffered due to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions become trapped in our atmosphere and cause glaciers to melt, extreme weather events, and coral bleaching. Luckily, there are simple solutions to prevent pollution and greenhouse emissions through sustainable living. Here are our favorite five ways to care for the earth. 

1. Eat less meat. Red meat and processed meat are known carcinogens and are one of the main contributors to CO2 and methane. While mild consumption of healthy meats can be good for humans, meat consumption has skyrocketed over the past 60 years at estimates from 200-500%. Livestock uses more and more land, crops, fertilizers, and machinery. Much of the forest land currently used for farming cattle used to act as carbon sinks, places where carbon was stored, and the atmosphere cooled. Without these areas, greenhouse gases remain trapped in the atmosphere. Studies show that the effects of livestock farming, along with methane gas created through animal digestion, contribute 12% and 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions. 

An easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is to eat less meat and animal products. Try going a few days a week without meat. Join Healthy Aging with a Holistic Plant-Based Lifestyle or Simply Delicious Meatless Recipes to learn about eating less meat. A great start to this practice is by participating in #MeatlessMondays.

2. Avoid plastics and recycle. Consider purchasing biodegradable plastics, cardboard, glass, and metals instead of regular plastics. The typical plastic water bottle takes 400 years to decompose naturally. Even recycling these materials does not guarantee they won't end up in a landfill, so trying to avoid these plastics altogether is an excellent method of living sustainably.  

3. Enjoy and support parks. Do you enjoy nature or outdoor activities? Consider visiting local parks. National Parks are areas of conservation that support biodiversity, clean water, clean air, and clean energy. These natural landscapes are critical for the earth and mental health. Research suggests that exposure to nature reduces loneliness and anxiety. National parks are also a perfect place to engage in fun physical activities, including hiking, mountain biking, swimming, camping, fishing, and hunting. Support your local park by visiting, donating, and backing legislation favoring national parks. 

Before you pack your camping bags, check the Photo Challenge of the Week. Each week focuses on a new (often nature-focused) theme, so grab your camera or phone and get snapping.

4. Avoid fast fashion. Look into your wardrobe. Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world. It affects our food, oceans, climate, and daily life. According to the United Nations, it takes around 7,500 liters of water to make a single pair of jeans- the same amount the average person would drink in seven years. Most materials used in clothes are culprits in the mistreatment of the environment. Polyester uses tons of oil, which contributes to increased greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, cotton usually requires pesticides and water, and dyes often find their way into local water sources. The fashion industry is also notorious for mistreating workers and local environments.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to combat the injustice caused by the fashion industry. Buy less and buy smart. Consider purchasing clothes from second-hand boutiques or thrift stores. Or research fashion companies you love. Do they use recycled materials, conserve water, and treat their workers well? If not, consider buying fewer products from them or only their more sustainable product lines. Fashion is a challenge, especially when it comes to sustainability. Try Jame Smith's How to Live With Less class to take the first steps towards a more stunning sustainable wardrobe. 

5. Make it fun! Sustainable living is all about small steps and habits that can be incorporated into your hobbies. If you like to cook, buy local ingredients to reduce pesticide and fuel usage (take Deb's Sustainable Kitchen class to learn more tips). If hiking with friends is your go-to activity, consider carpooling to save gas money and carbon emissions. Carpools are the perfect place to catch up and rock out. If painting is your passion, keep natural brushes and a reusable water bottle nearby. Post your sustainable activities and tag us; we'd love to see your ideas!

We can change the world through subtle adjustments in our lifestyles. With less greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, the earth's future is full of vibrant hope and life. With Earth Day approaching, we are celebrating sustainable and mindful living. Join an Earth Day Series class to celebrate with us. 

May 20, 2022
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