In the complex and interconnected global network that we participate in daily, we can sometimes fail to realize how every decision we make has larger implications. So you think you can’t make a difference as an individual?
Collectively, every action and every purchase we make adds up. We must adopt a mindset of “methodological individualism,” which states every individual motivation and action drives a larger social phenomena. In honor of Gonzaga’s Earth Week and Earth Day 2015, we threw together a short (and by no means all-inclusive) list of simple yet powerful actions you can take towards a more sustainable planet:
1. Using the Keurig Cup
Green Mountain Coffee (Keurig) “K-cups” have faced much wrath from activists due to the detrimental effects the plastic pods have on the planet, piling up in landfills around the nation. The pods are made of No. 7 plastic, which can’t be recycled in most places—and in 2013 alone, enough coffee pods were produced to wrap around the equator 10.5 times. The inventor or Keurig himself admitted that he regrets making the non-recyclable, single-serve coffee pods. Luckily, Keurig has pledged to make all K-cups recyclable by 2020—but until then, you may want to stick to your more sustainable classic ground beans. Source: NYdailynews.com, Killthekcup.org
2. Recycling plastic bags or food-contaminated containers at home
…Or can you? You may think you’re doing a good deed by recycling all your Safeway or Fred Meyer’s plastic bags, but these bags are actually “the top nuisance” according to recycling facilities. They waste time by getting stuck in machines, can break or damage the equipment and can prevent other recyclable material from being recycled. Instead, re-use them around the house, take them to a grocery store to recycle, or use a reusable shopping bag. Additionally, any food-contaminated containers such as greasy pizza boxes, take-out containers, chip bags, some frozen food boxes and other containers that prepared food comes in cannot be recycled. Source: household-tips.thefuntimes.guide.com
3. Leaving your gadgets plugged in
Leaving your electronics—TVs, DVD players, printers, monitors, game consoles, etc.—plugged in can not only be wasteful in terms of energy, but can also bump up your electricity bills. Older electronics with no standby mode are especially wasteful, so use a power strip or remember to unplug them after usage. The energy savings may not seem like much in terms of your household’s total consumption, but the aggregate waste of energy from billions of household electronics adds up. Source: inhabitat.com
4. Buying products with unethically sourced palm oil
Palm oil is found in an estimated 10 percent of consumer products ranging from laundry detergent to your favorite cosmetics to your bag of Doritos. The problem with this oil, the majority of which is globally produced and exported from Southeast Asia, is not in the fruit itself but rather the deforestation of rainforests and exploitation of workers that occur from unrestrained sourcing. This destruction of rainforests in turn has pushed some species to extinction and contributes to global warming. Many NGOs such as Greenpeace and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and nonprofit advocacy organizations such as SumOfUs and International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) have recently urged large companies, such as PepsiCo, to commit to a more sustainable and ethical supply chain. As consumers, we have the power to vote against this with the products we buy. Check your labels, research before you shop (using lists like this one from the World Wildlife Fund), or using apps such as this Buycott app to ensure the products you buy don’t contain palm oil are all places to start to making a large and powerful difference! Source: sustainablebrands.com, npr.org
5. Eating meat in every meal
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “if every American substituted one meal of chicken with vegetarian food, the carbon dioxide saving would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads.” If that doesn’t convince you, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization has found that more greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock than from transportation, “the world’s largest source of water pollution is the livestock sector” and that “70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon was cleared to pasture cattle.” There is no doubt that consuming meat in the mass quantities we do is impacting the environment on a global scale. You may not be willing to cut all meat out of your diet, but even just cutting back once a week can have a huge positive effect. Source: mnn.com
Have any more daily actions we can take or prevent to help better our planet? Let us know below!