We all see how the world has changed during the last few months because of the COVID-19 lockdown. Venice channels became much more cleaner. In China, pollution and greenhouse emissions have significantly fallen. Because of extensive travel restrictions, carbon emissions have dropped down all across the world. For example, in New York, the amount of carbon pollution reduced by up to 50% compared to the previous year.
At the same time, environmental activists are worried about the increasing amount of trash, especially plastic ones, which people use during the COVID-19 outbreak while shopping in grocery stores and ordering food delivery. I want to share with you 6 actions that are very easy to implement in your life. These actions can help us to save the world and to make an environment around you more healthy!
Turn off the light
It’s easy! Turn off the light and electricity when you do not need them. Of course when we pay utilities we try to reduce the amount of electricity we use. But even in places where you do not pay for utilities, please turn off the light. Do you know that electric plants using gas, oil, or coal pollute 1-2 pounds (0,5-1 kg) of carbon dioxide to the air to produce 1kWh of electricity? How much is that? Well, if you watch TV for 3 hours every day for a month, you need around 20kW. It means you throw out 20-40 pounds (10-20 kg) of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere monthly.
Let’s calculate how much electricity you can save if you turn off the light in a hall during the night! Let ‘s say you have one light bulb (60Wh) there. This bulb spends around 43kW for a month, which is equivalent to 43-86 pounds (22-43 kg) of carbon dioxide. If you turn off this bulb for 8 hours a day, you can reduce your CO2 emit up to 15-30 pounds (8-12 kg) a month. So, turn off the light when you don’t need it. It’s not only about the amount of utility payment. It’s about the air we breathe every day. Turn off the light at home, in the office, in your parent’s house, turn off TV, desktops, and aircon when you do not use them.
Also, you can participate in Earth Hour, a worldwide movement launched by WWF in 2007. According to its idea, people from all over the world turn off all lights for an hour on one special day. But do not forget that candles also emit CO2—almost the same amount as electric bulbs!
Switch off taps
As you can already understand, I encourage you to switch off taps not only because of the amount of your payment for utilities. Moreover, it’s not only because of the lack of drinking water on the planet and a possible global water crisis. By saving water when you do not need it, you reduce carbon pollution to the air as well!
Every 30 seconds while a tap is on and water is running, you are losing around a gallon (4L) of clean drinking water. If you do not switch off the tap while brushing your teeth and bathe your face, around 200 gallons (757L) of water will run out monthly! But losing the water, it’s not only about the water. Also, water pumps use energy, electric plants burn gas, oil, or coal to produce this energy, and a lot of carbon dioxide emits into the atmosphere. The water system spends around 0,004 kWh to deliver each gallon of water to households. So, just switching off the tap while you are brushing your teeth can help you to reduce your carbon footprint to 10-20 pounds (5-10 kg) each year. Moreover, if you wash your clothes in cold or warm water instead of a hot one, you save around 500 pounds (227 kg) of carbon dioxide every year!
Recycle everything you can
The amount of waste that humanity produces is rising every year. Globally we generated around 2,1 billion tons of waste every year, which is equivalent to 822K swimming pools with a length of 50 m each. And only 16% of that waste is recycled. Moreover, citizens of developed countries generate 3-4 times more waste than people from developing countries. It means we actively litter the planet. It’s a great time to start recycling our waste!
Here are 3 easy steps to start recycling:
- Find a recycle bin. Even if you do not have a garbage bin for recycling waste at your apartment, maybe you have it in your office.
- Carefully read what you can put in that bin. Sometimes there are separate bins for batteries, glass, and metal. And if you put your recyclable waste in a wrong bin, it will be thrown away and won’t be recycled.
- Wash your waste before putting it in a recycle bin. It’s a pity but if you put here a dirty bottle or a plastic bag, they won’t be recycled and just will be thrown away.
Do not take bags from grocery stores
Try to reduce the amount of plastic (and paper as well) you use. For the last 70 years, people have produced around 8,3 billion tons of plastic, which is 3,2 million swimming pools, each length of 50 m! Do not believe in bags made from “recycled” micro-plastic. This type of plastic is even worse than the ordinary one because it’s fallen apart into very small pieces and continues to pollute the environment.
Carry on a plastic or cotton bag in case you need to go to a grocery store. It’s better to take a small plastic bag from home than to buy a new one. Do not hesitate to tell a cashier that you do not need a bag, even if they’ve already started to put your stuff to a bag. And if you need a plastic bag, take one, not two! Here is my small lifehack I want to share with you, when you buy fruits and vegetables, you can put them in one bag. There is no need to put a carrot, an onion, and a zucchini in different bags and throw them away when you come home and start to cook dinner.
Give your old clothes to charity organizations
In some countries, you can find recycling bins for old clothes everywhere. Usually, these clothes are sorted and sent either to second-hands and people in need or processed for rags, linoleum, and other goods. Unfortunately, you can’t find this type of recycling bins in the U.S. But it doesn’t mean that you need just to throw away your old clothes!
If you want to throw away clothes and shoes in good condition, put them in special bins of charity organizations, such as Planet Aids. Their bright yellow recycling bins you can find throughout the East coast (use the map). I’m sure you can easily find similar organizations in your area and can help not only the planet but also people in need.
Use your tumbler for coffee
Everyday we buy a cup of coffee when we go to the office, walk around the city, or meet our friends. Take your tumbler and ask to fill it. That’s how you can save paper cups and plastic covers and keep your drink warm for a longer period of time!