Protecting the environment (or failing to do so) is an important national topic in the United States right now. While we wait for leaders to adopt earth-saving policies, there are some small things we can do at home to reduce our environmental footprints. The first step for environmental change is education; there are so many things we do that we do not realize are harmful. The second step is action, so the more we know, the more we can help save and preserve the natural resources so essential to life on Earth.
Here is a list of 6 things we use that harm the environment and what you can do to help.
The tiny plastic exfoliating balls that come in some face washes
Although these seem harmless with their bright colors and the promise of exfoliation, they are actually very harmful. Those little beads are plastic and are too small to be filtered in most sewage treatments. They can end up in the stomachs of fish and other marine animals. To help with this issue, simply avoid buying these soaps, no matter how cool they look. For more information on this topic, check out this article.
You know that oily residue that comes off your skin if you jump in the ocean right after applying sunscreen? That sunscreen residue bleaches corals (and just isn’t good for the ocean). Coral bleaching is a huge problem as global temperatures rise. To help reduce this problem, only buy sunscreen brands that are tested and guaranteed coral safe. (P.S. for more information about coral reefs, watch the documentary Chasing Coral on Netflix).
Plastic bags at the grocery store
The list of problems with plastic bags seems endless. They sit in landfills, they enter the waterways and end up in the stomachs of animals. To a turtle, a plastic bag in the water looks exactly like a jellyfish, which is a food source. To help this problem, invest in some cloth bags. Not only are they usually cheap (99 cents at most grocery stores), but they are more stable and easier to carry than plastic bags.
Similar to plastic bags, straws are dangerous for marine animals and do not degrade easily in landfills. As an alternative, you can simply not use them, or use biodegradable straws.
Single serve coffee pods
Single serve coffee makers are great, and a staple in most college dorm rooms or apartments. Although these are convenient, the plastics pods are not great for the environment. However, you can purchase pods that reduce the amount of waste with plastic bottoms that peel off for recycling or pods that simply do not have the plastic bottom (they look like a plain coffee filter).
Plastic forks, knives, spoons
This one goes without saying, but whenever you can, avoid using disposable plastics. Instead, use and wash silverware. If you’re having a party or a get-together where silverware use is not practical, biodegradable forks, knives, and spoons are available.
Keep these 6 things in mind on your next trip to the grocery store and keep looking for ways to reduce your environmental footprint. Every little bit helps.