What You Can Do for Global Environmental Health
Almost every choice you make—what to eat, where to shop, what to buy, how to travel—affects the environment on some level. Some choices you make have a direct, specific impact—for example, turning off the light to save electricity. Others have an indirect or distant effect, such as purchasing clothing produced in a factory that prioritizes safe working conditions for its employees.
Terry Gips, an ecologist and sustainability business consultant, offers specific tips designed around the four principles of sustainability.
To limit what is taken from the earth…
- Walk, bike, carpool, or use public transit instead of driving. If you need to drive, practice “eco-driving,” which involves staying at a steady speed, acting instead of reacting, and keeping tires fully inflated.
- Turn off lights and computers when they’re not being used. Replace regular bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescents.
- Reduce your heating and cooling. Use Energy Star appliances and make sure your home is properly insulated.
- Decrease mined metals by recycling (cans, fluorescents, electronics) and using rechargeable batteries, mercury-free thermometers, lead-free fishing weights, and sustainable building materials.
To limit the use of toxic substances…
- Support sustainable agriculture by purchasing certified organic food and clothing.
- Buy used clothing and donate your clothing when you can’t use it anymore.
- Either make or purchase natural, non-toxic cleaning cleaners, dish soap, and laundry detergent.
- Use safe, natural pest control in your garden or yard.
- Only use “green” dry-cleaners.
- Drink from a reusable coffee cup or water bottle.
- Choose non-toxic, environmentally sound (formaldehyde-free and low VOC) toys, furniture, paints, carpets and renovation materials. (You can check out goodguide.com for a list of eco-friendly products.)
To respect and protect the earth…
- Reduce paper use by using cloth napkins, making two-sided copies, opting out of junk-mail lists, and bringing reusable shopping bags to the store.
- Purchase certified, sustainably-harvested forest products and use 100% post-consumer recycled content paper, tissues, towels, and toilet paper.
- Eat lower on the food chain with an organic, plant-based diet and reduce or eliminate consumption of endangered and factory-farmed fish and seafood.
- Protect and conserve precious water with low flow faucets, toilets and showers, native landscaping, green roofs and rain barrels and gardens.
- Compost yard material and food scraps.
To meet fundamental human needs…
- Switch at least one of your investment, retirement, or bank accounts into a socially responsible investment, fund, community bank, or co-op bank.
- Buy organic, certified fair trade products (such as coffee), which helps to provide a decent wage, safe working conditions, and a healthy environment for workers.
- Donate your time to helping those in need in your community or protecting the environment (for example, visiting someone in a nursing home or volunteering for an environmental group).
- Make the commitment to smile and be respectful to every person you see, no matter where you are or how you feel.