Environmental sustainability is arguably more important that it has ever been. As the body of research on climate change continues to grow, so does the potentially grim outlook on earth’s stability for future generations.
With this notion in mind, it is important that we practice good environmental stewardship–sometimes in ways that may seem minuscule or ineffective on the surface. These practices can include giving up or changing lifestyle habits that are proven to be detrimental to the environment, but consistently become afterthoughts during day-to-day obligations.
Here are some of ways you might be harming the environment without thinking, and how you can correct them.
Driving, and only driving
A quick and easy way to harm the environment is to use your car or other motorized vehicle in all traveling scenarios. This tip may seem like a no-brainer as far as Earth’s jeopardized air quality, but the sad reality is that it still becomes an afterthought during short trips or errands: the three minute drive to the gas station around the block, the afternoon cruise around the neighborhood that could have been a leisurely walk or run.
If your trip is projected to only take a few minutes, it will likely not require car usage to remain timely or convenient. Extenuating circumstances and physical limitations aside, make an effort to cut back your driving time if at all possible. Perhaps use a bike, if walking is entirely out of the question.
Never shopping online
Online shopping has revolutionized the ways we purchase products, track bids, and locate items typically absent from major department stores. This modern method of consumerism is quite convenient, but it is also an efficient way to save the planet. A study by Carnegie Mellon University linked online shopping to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and ultimately a lesser dependence on energy consumption.
Everybody needs to get out of the house now and then, and there is a certain appeal to physically entering a store, but try your best to keep major shopping excursions in moderation when they are unnecessary–maybe once a month.
Ignoring expiration dates
Expiration dates may seem like a helpful resource to avoid food poisoning, but their purpose can at times be exaggerated, resulting in the premature disposal of safe food.
According to Greatist.com, most expiration dates tend to refer to a product’s “quality,” rather than its safety. The site continues, “There’s a difference between the “sell-by” label (the deadline for retailers to sell the product) and “use-by” (the date when the product starts to lose its quality and flavor.)”
Understanding this distinction can help you cut down on unnecessary food disposal and subsequent re-buying (not to mention car emissions spent on trips to the grocery store).
Keeping fruits and vegetables in the fridge, not the freezer
Arguably one of the most surprising ways to increase food-related sustainability is to freeze fruits and vegetables. These foods have been found to survive for up to a year and a half when preserved in this manner, giving you an easy method to cut down excessive produce shopping.
For best results, you will want to freeze the fruits and vegetables when they are at peak freshness.