Okay I know what you’re thinking – isn’t this a fitness and expat blog?? True, BUT being green is something that we should all be putting top of mind. After all, we’ve all heard that climate change is happening (and that it’s scary, dementor-esque stuff). In fact, the latest UN Report contains a startling new timeline – one in which really concerning events (such as mass droughts), begin as early as 2040. The good news is that if we all start taking steps now – even small ones! – to get greener and slow the process, we CAN make a positive difference. I’ve compiled some of the EASIEST, most do-able ways to reduce your negative global impact below. They take little to no effort and each make big, positive ripples. Which one(s) will you try?!
EAT LESS MEAT
At the heart of global warming lies the meat industry, which accounts globally for 14.5-18% of “human-induced greenhouse gas emissions” (NYTimes). (In the US that number is over 40%!) By eating less meat (or going veggie/vegan!), you automatically help to reduce the overall demand for a product that is contributing to global deforestation (we need land to raise all that livestock on), as well as the – mainly but not entirely US-based – obesity crisis (ScienceDaily). Not sure where to start? Try participating in “Meatless Monday” and use the hashtag #meatlessmonday along with pics of your meals to keep yourself accountable and support others via social media.
Want to do more? Consider:
- Eating one less meat meal per day. Take a moment and think about how much meat you eat. Is it typically twice a day? Three times a day? Count it out and then commit to eating one less meat meal per day.
- Eliminating red meat (pork, cow, etc.) from your diet. These animals are some of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gases because of the amount of energy and space it takes to feed, raise and transport them.
- Eliminating fast food meat from your diet. Fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell and KFC are international mass producers of meat products – their production spans the globe and requires high levels of energy use to sustain itself.
- Going veggie or vegan! Okay so this doesn’t keep meat in your diet, however it is an AMAZING way to support the planet and all creatures who exist here! (Note: Talk to your doctor before making any dietary changes, particularly if you’ve ever struggled with an eating disorder or have any pre-existing health conditions.)
STOP USING STRAWS
Did you know that it takes one single plastic straw 200 years to decompose? What about the fact that in the US alone an approximate 500 million straws are used – DAILY!?! Shocking stuff, right?! Now picture our oceans, covered in floating plastic goods that have been improperly disposed of (as many are, sadly), and imagine being a sea turtle swimming in murky waters that were once pristine. Not to mention the constant temptation to eat the straws, which look a lot like natural turtle food. Unfortunately, the straws are deadly to turtles and cause choking frequently. The solution? Skip the straw or buy a reusable one. A few good options include bamboo reusable straws, (I’ve had my eyes on this set from Wholesome Culture), or any of these stainless steel straws.
LINE DRY YOUR CLOTHES
Most people in the world do not use electric dryers to dry their clothing. Instead, people line dry their clothes either inside or outside their homes. While it can take some foresight and doesn’t have the immediacy of using a dryer, it also eliminates unnecessary energy use and can reduce a household’s carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds per year.
BE COOL AND CARPOOL
Did you know that on any day 85% of cars in America only have one person in them? 85%!!! Which means that we can do much, much, better. While driving solo may be tempting, driving with friends or coworkers can be a good way to energize before the work day (or unwind, as you drive home). It would also take a good chunk of cars off the road, which would significantly impact carbon emission levels. (Not to mention reduce the amount you pay on gas per month!) Not into sharing? Trying biking to work (it’s an awesome way to get in some cardio), or take public transportation instead.
Much like when we drive alone, when we each sit at home and binge watch Netflix with all our lights on and our heater on (and maybe some music in another room that we forgot about/are too lazy to turn off), we unnecessarily use a lot of energy that’s damaging to the environment. But when we seek out company and get social, we minimize the need for our homes to work on overtime for us. A few great examples of this include:
- Working in coworking spaces, cafés or libraries
- Hanging out with friends at the movies, in parks or in other free social spaces (or even just at one of your homes, so that one home supports you both, instead of two homes running simultaneously)
- Hosting or attending potlucks within your community, religious community or friend group on a weekly or monthly basis
EAT LOCALLY / EAT IN-SEASON
Blueberries in December? Tempting! But when we pass on out-of-season goodies and eat what’s local and fresh instead we reduce the demand for globally transported goods. That leads to a reduction in carbon emissions, which in turn helps slow the rate of climate change. Not sure what’s local in your area? If you’re in the US download The Seasonal Food Guide app to your phone and select your state to know what’s growing when. If you’re international you can download the In Season app – it detects your hemisphere and tells you what to eat when!
Note: this idea of local consumption can also be applied to other goods! Try purchasing items made in your country to reduce the need for international shipping, both from the manufacturer to the store and from the store/retailer to you.
Scary as it is to think of global warming advancing on the double, we CAN slow it down and, in doing so, help save more of our planet and our people! Do you have any other favorite ways to be green? I’d love to hear them!