We’ve all pushed calls to voicemail from someone we didn’t want to talk to. Typically, those calls have no urgency to them; we can talk later, we say. We’ll call them back tomorrow. And in most cases, those things can wait. So, why is it that when Mother Nature rings with desperation, humanity tends to push her to voicemail?
My mind always refers to our planet’s present day epoch: the Anthropocene. It’s simply defined by today’s human activity being the dominant force on Earth’s climate and environment, which means we, as humans, are thoroughly responsible for the theory that lasting––possibly irreversible––damage has affected our environment.
As nature lovers, we have work to do, and it starts with hard conversations about how much damage has already been done to Earth’s conditions. If we start from within, the United States itself experiences severe conditions from climate change. California alone has had more than four million acres of land and habitats burnt from the fires that started in August and, as of October 10th, are still burning. These fires are reported as the worst in history, and are a direct result of extreme weather and poor natural conditions… and sadly, human involvement.
Across the Earth, humans, animals, and the planet are affected by natural disasters, air pollution, lack of clean water, deforestation, and well, the list goes on…
So, what can we do about it?
#1: Go eco-friendly with your everyday items.
As any other human during these strange pandemic and digital times, I spend most of my money online. So, the options are endless, and I’ve replaced most of my disposable everyday items with reusable ones. A big contributor to waste is the plastic bags we see in almost every store. Baggu has a solution with these lightweight, easily storable bags that double as your new grocery carriers. Unpaper makes paper towels that aren’t actually made of paper. They’re completely machine-washable, can be pulled off the same way as regular paper towels, and remove all of your wasteful worries. Plus, they come in a handful of different patterns and colors. Personal hygiene items are my favorite to buy sustainably; my everyday deodorant has been replaced by Myro, a reusable container that ships you new, recyclable deodorant pods when you run out. Humankind has mouthwash in the form of pill-sized tablets that reduce the amount of packaging you go through, and Bite has the same for toothpaste. Best of all, when it’s your time of the month, Rael and Flex supply silicone menstrual cups and machine-washable pads to save you money on those unfortunate pink-taxed products that contribute to so much of our everyday waste. Change in these areas is difficult, especially when we’ve used these disposable products our entire lives, but transitioning to these sustainable ways will make a noticeable difference.
#2: Reduce, reuse, recycle, and… well, there’s more.
Our consumption and waste have shown to be much more complex than the three R’s. If we compare Pennsylvania to Vermont, for example, there is a stark difference in the approach to reducing waste: composting is not enforced in Pennsylvania. Almost every entity in the state of Vermont separates their waste into three categories: trash, recycling, and compost. Everything at one point in Earth’s history was compostable, which allowed for renewal of natural resources and continuation of living beings’ natural cycles. Only until modern-day innovation in humans was introduced did this ability of regeneration collapse. Knowing your state’s laws around composting is the first step toward achieving it, and even if you don’t have the land on your property to hide the unfortunate smell of compost, there are devices that will do it for you in a much more condensed way.
#3: Support local when you can.
Local farms, artists, businesses, anything, is better for the environment than sourcing from further away. A huge contributor to waste in 2020 is the packaging of goods, especially now since so much of business is online. Of course it’s more difficult during a pandemic, but when you can, focus on supporting and growing the area in which you live. Those are the people and places that put their time into bettering your community; plus, there’s a smaller carbon footprint when you stay local. Get your produce from a local farm instead of a big grocery store, try clothes from a thrift shop instead of a large retailer, eat at a locally-owned restaurant rather than a chain. These will all contribute to improving your area and reducing your own carbon footprint.