The world isn't in the best place. You don't need to be an environmental scientist to know that. You only have to turn on the tv or pick up a newspaper to see a story covering the melting ice caps, the spike in co2 emissions and the alarming regularity of extinct animals. It's all quite scary, and if we chose to ignore these pressing issues, our planet will be irrecoverably damaged, a catastrophic shame that almost isn't worth contemplating.
However, there is a lot you can do every day that adds up over time to help reduce greenhouse gases and make the environment a cleaner and more sustainable place for future generations. In many ways, doing our part to protect Earth is not just our duty, but a privilege we should relish.
With that said, here are 10 things you can do to make sure Earth doesn't succumb to ruin.
1. Remain informed
Being a well-informed citizen of the world is essential, and not just because your 8th-grade Geography teacher told you so. By doing a bit of researching and staying up to date with topics concerning climate change, you are engaging yourself in your very own environment.
If you're an avid reader of the culture section, you could make a habit of looking at the environmental pages of news sites for 5 minutes after you've hard your daily fix of the news that most interests you. It's that simple, so make a habit of it.
2. Don't be afraid to speak up
Read as much as you want about the problems we're facing, but don't be scared to speak up either! In the grand scheme of things, the environment doesn't dominate the news the way politics, sport, and show business does. However, if you get into the habit of spreading the word about the all-too-real dangers of climate change, the dialogue concerning environmental issues will improve.
If you find yourself to be of a shy disposition, you could promote climate change causes by creating an online forum, or even simply setting up a Twitter account concerned with environmental issues. By doing this, you have the potential to engage others and encourage fellow users to partake in protests and petitions.
Voting shouldn't even be an issue. You should always exercise your right to engage in a democratic process because in many nations people quite literally died so everyone could have their say in the parliamentary process.
So if you're lucky enough to live in a country which respects the democratic process, use your vote to further the cause of climate change. Even if none of your local or national politicians has spoken publicly about climate change, you can still write to them and attend meetings they are often required to attend.
4. Travel with the environment in mind
Traveling with sustainably in mind isn't always practical, especially if you live in a more rural part of the world. However, many workers live in big cities, where public transport and bicycle lanes are readily available. In smaller cities, you could probably walk to work if you're willing to leave the house 20 minutes earlier.
Of course, being able to drive to certain places is crucial for some of us, but that doesn't mean we still can't help the environment. With diesel and petrol being phased out in many parts of the world, why not act now and travel in an electric vehicle (EV) instead? Even smaller things, such as tire pressure, or limiting your driving to long-haul destinations can go a long way in helping decrease co2 emissions.
5. Be careful with your water usage
As the old saying goes, a little goes a long way. Michael Phelps, the American swimmer and most decorated Olympian of all time even started a campaign to get people to stop leaving the water running when we brush our teeth. Even the little things, such as drinking tap water instead of buying into the plastic trade can go along way.
If you want to be an ardent water conservationist, you could even limit your toilet flushing to number 2's only!
6. Watch your eating habits
Food wastage, and production are all issues that impact the environment. It's one of the most pressing environmental problems, responsible for almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of which are caused by meat and dairy products. And with a growing middle class in developing nations such as India and China demanding meat more than ever, meat consumption is only on the rise, despite efforts in many parts of the Western world to adopt a more ethical and environmentally friendly diet.
So why not do the same? It sounds daunting for meat-lovers, but you can rest easy knowing you are not only helping the environment but also opening yourself up to a healthier, more ethical lifestyle free from animal abuse. Some of the best vegan diets have even been known to help clear skin. By eradicating meats and fish from your diet, you are also reducing your weekly food bills as grains and vegetables are signifcantly cheaper than meat.
Whatever you buy in the world, it's going to leave an environmental footprint, from the materials made to produce it to the pollution spawned from its manufacturing and transportation to the final packaging process which nearly always ends up in a landfill dump.
One only has to set foot on a beach to see the alarming amount of discarded plastics littered on our shores. So next time you purchase plastic, consider if you can reuse it, or if you even need to buy it in the first place. Most importantly of all, if something can be recycled, then make sure its washed and goes into the recycle bin.
You may be thinking that composting is the preserve of hippies and environmental freaks who go as far composting their poo, but it's not as crazy as it sounds. Reducing your solid waste means that landfills will be less populated.
Another plus is that compost makes a great natural fertilizer.
9. Make your home more efficient
Believe it or not, a large chunk of our emissions are caused by activity in our very own homes, which means that we have to look at ourselves more than ever when it comes to protecting the environment. One of the easiest ways to cut down on your emissions is to insulate your home through loft insulation. This can be achieved by installing appliances that prevent cold air seeping through the windows, such as cavity walls, double glazed windows, and mats that stop drafts creeping under doors.
Not only will you be doing your bit for the environment, but you'll also save a lot of money on future gas bills. For electricity usage, smart meters are a great way of keeping track of your usage.
10. Ride your bike
When was the last time you rode your bike? You'll probably get to work just as quickly as you would by stuffing yourself into an overcrowded metro. Best of all, you won't be contributing to a number of greenhouse gases.
Instead, you'll be burning some much-needed calories and going to bed every night knowing you're making a difference. So get your brain tuned into humanity's biggest threat and spread the word that climate change is far from a hoax cooked up by a coterie of liberal professors. It's destroying our planet and will continue to unless we act now.