“The global environment crisis is, as we say in Tennessee, real as rain,” former Vice President Al Gore said during a recent speech. Although many people agree that action needs to be taken to reduce global warming, they wonder: Can one person really make a difference?
The answer is: Yes! There are many simple things you can do to help the environment in a big way.
We all know about recycling and that it is extremely important. I cannot stress this enough because in United States, 2.5 million plastic water bottles are thrown away every hour. So the next time you reach for a plastic water bottle, think about that fact and choose a refillable glass bottle instead. The glass bottle will reduce the amount of petroleum needed to make plastic bottles, reduce the carbon dioxide emissions created during the manufacturing process, and eliminate the air pollution created while cleaning up the discarded bottles.
Using recycled paper every day also helps our environment. If you use one box of 100% post consumer recycled paper, you reduce carbon emissions by 5 pounds. And don’t forget that paper recycling also applies to other products such as facial tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels.
Using recycled paper also saves a lot of trees, which add a lot of beauty to our environment. Perhaps even more important, trees give off oxygen and purify the air we breathe by absorbing harmful chemicals and carbon dioxide. An average-sized tree produces enough oxygen in one year to keep a family of four breathing for one year, and an acre of trees removes up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide each year. So why not plant a tree in your yard or suggest that your school have a tree-planting day? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, planting trees is a must if we want to save the planet. Trees also provide food and shelter for forest animals. Even after they die, trees help our planet: They are biodegradable, recyclable, and renewable.
When we think about helping our planet, we also need to think about the food we eat. Did you know that most fruit and vegetables in our supermarkets were picked 4 to 7 days before they reached the store, and that they traveled by plane or truck an average of 1,500 miles? If you buy locally-grown food, you reduce the air pollution and carbon emissions produced during the food’s transportation. Buying from local farmers also helps make it profitable for them to farm. In this way, we can help preserve areas of land used for planting, and reduce the amount of land sold to developers who often cut down trees to build houses and roads. Buying local food is also better for our health. Once picked, food begins to lose its nutritional value, and the further it travels, the greater the nutritional loss. So stay healthy and help our environment by eating local food.
Another way you can help our planet is to take shorter showers every day. The average shower uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute. If you reduced your shower time by 4 minutes each day, you would save 3,650 gallons of water per year. Environmentalists have serious concerns about present and future water shortages on our planet. So why not shorten your shower by 4 minutes a day and use that 28 minutes a week to do something that’s more fun than taking a shower? Maybe you could talk to a friend or get going with your day faster.
It’s up to each of us to do what we can to save our planet, and as you can see, simple actions can have significant results. “Global warming, along with the cutting and burning of forests and other critical habitats, is causing the loss of living species at a level comparable to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That event was believed to have been caused by a giant asteroid. This time it is not an asteroid colliding with the Earth and wreaking havoc: it is us.” (Former Vice President Al Gore) Yes, it is us, and it’s up to each of us to make changes. Let’s get started!