7 Lifestyle Changes That Will Help The Environment

Over the past few years, most people I’ve spoken to have become (or already were) environmentally conscious to some degree. What often begins simply as saving money – such as reducing the amount of electricity you use – turns out to have quite a positive impact. If, however, you want to do even more; there are several things you can do. Here are just 7 lifestyle changes which will help the environment.

1. Use the car less. This is perhaps the simplest change in this list – reduce the time you spend behind the wheel. In addition to the environmental benefits of doing this, you’ll probably find that you become slightly fitter; and have more money in your pocket at the end of the week. In short, there’s no downside. How do you do this? Here are a few suggestions :

  • for short journeys, walk
  • if possible, work from home (at least some of the time)
  • create a car pool with workmates
  • make use of public transport occasionally
  • bike to work

2. Reduce your intake of red meat. Common sources of red meat such as cows and bulls produce an enormous quantity of climate-changing gases such as methane. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that you should become vegetarian – I enjoy a good steak as much as any other omnivore – simply that a slight reduction can have a dramatic effect. As a bonus, there are a number of well-documented health benefits of a diet containing only a small amount of red meat.

3. Become a ‘green consumer. When shopping for any sort of product – anything from groceries to a new television – take a moment to weigh up the options. If there are alternatives, consider which product has the lowest impact on the environment. Things to look out for :

  • does the item come in easily-recyclable packaging?
  • have the goods been recently produced? Locally?
  • is the item energy or water efficient?

By favoring the products which answer ‘yes‘ to these questions, producers and manufacturers will gradually take up ‘green‘ practices in order to remain competitive.

4. Become ‘carbon neutral‘ using offsets as necessary. This is something that nearly everyone can take advantage of. Become as close to ‘carbon neutral‘ as possible; purchasing carbon offsets as necessary. In effect, you’ll be investing in a number of sustainable energy and water schemes. NB : if you’re looking for a slightly more direct investment approach, read on.

5. Invest in companies researching and producing renewable energy. Want to make some serious money, and help the environment at the same time? Invest in companies which are researching, producing and selling energy-efficient and water-efficient goods. Think wind farms, solar panels and electric cars. This is one area in which financial reward and environmental impact can have an enormous overlap.

6. Share your ‘green’ ideas with others. Over the past century or so, global communications has grown in many, many ways. This has made it possible to share ideas and discoveries at an incredible rate. Here are just a few of the ways in which you can share your thoughts with others :

  • create a blog which documents the energy-conserving changes you make in your own home
  • establish a not-for-profit group which teaches others how to live sustainably
  • create a recycling collective with your neighbors, where each person is responsible for the collection and recycling of a particular material or product

NB : naturally there are a great many others. If you’ve developed or are aware of a scheme which is working well, be sure to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about it.

7. Become politically active. If you’ve ever heard someone say ‘the government should do this‘ then this one’s for you. By becoming involved in politics – at any level with which you feel comfortable – you are able to help guide people to an incredible goal. Rather than sitting back and waiting for someone else to take action, make your own voice heard.

Final thoughts

Want more? Well, there’s one change you can make which will incorporate many of the items noted above – support those who are already making a difference. When your neighbor approaches you to discuss their own ideas for a recycling collective, or a workmate suggests a car pool; dive in. It really will make an impact.

Scott Bird

Scott Bird is a writer and fitness enthusiast based in sunny Sydney, Australia. When not wandering around second-hand book stores, he can usually be found over at his strength-training site, Straight to the Bar.

13 Comments

  1. I think there needs to be a strong campaign to teach people what can be recycled, and the exact steps that need to be taken to recycle each particular item. It’s scary to think how many things are being put into landfills that are still going to be there years and years and years from now. It’s also scary that there’s 6.5 billion people on the planet today and it’s estimated that by 2050 there will be 9 billion people. If everyone doesn’t start pitching in to help the environment, and soon, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble, so posts like these are very important.

    Marelisas last blog post..Share the Love Friday at Marelisa Online – Abundance Blog

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  2. The easiest fix for Planet Earth is to have H. Sapiens produce ONLY TWO offspring.

    That’s enough…… More is a total waste of the assets of Planet Earth

    STOP BREEDING. practice lots, but ONLY TWO OFFSPRING ALLOWED !!

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  3. Political activity won’t change a thing: we are allowed to vote and be “politically active” because civilization tolerates it. As soon as anything messes with the system it is made illegal.

    Sadly, none of these changes will have much effect. You give it away by saying: “Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that you should become vegetarian – I enjoy a good steak as much as any other omnivore – simply that a slight reduction can have a dramatic effect.” Becoming a vegetarian would reduce the amount of land and resources required for food by half, and becoming vegan reduce it by two-thirds – why didn’t you suggest this?

    Again, with consuming, you do not suggest not buying anything non-consumables new at all, repairing what you have or just saying “I don’t need this”. Why not?

    I’m not being unfriendly, just suggesting that the environmental mainstream is ignoring the level of change that is actually required.

    K.

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  4. Scott,

    You’ve got some great ideas here but I have to agree with Nick’s comment…we need to put the brakes on the growth rate of the human population. The more life-saving technology that we develop, the more we need to reduce the birth rate to compensate. As it is, the planet’s population doubles every 61 years. Talk about unsustainable!

    I’ve written a piece over at BetweenUsGirls that deals with the impact of the human race on the environment in an effort to raise awareness of the need to reign in when it comes to reproducing. It’s called “The Earth Runneth Over – Musings on Birth, Death, Nature and Population Control”…check it out at http://www.betweenusgirls.info.

    Lori | BetweenUsGirls.infos last blog post..The Earth Runneth Over – Musings on Birth, Death, Nature and Population Control

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  5. I think it is vital that we do our utmost to help the environment. Thanks Scott for a great article introducing some important ideas and principles.

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  6. I paused to reflect on a work email last week. It was from a staff member politely querying the request from the office manager for people to leave their computers on each night overnight so that IT in another city could remotely update machines out of hours, if necessary. She stated if we were serious about reducing our carbon footprint (a stated company goal) then surely we should change this process, perhaps nominating a specific night of the week to leave them on and being more organised.

    Great food for thought I say and importantly a step change in at least one person’s thinking.

    Simon

    Simon Hills last blog post..Lessons in life from the everyday

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  7. Nice list for starters. I agree with Maria on buying locally and also on buying local organics especially. There are soo many small things a person can do to help make a difference.

    EcoBlogss last blog post..New Social Bookmarking Features Added

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  8. Scott,

    I have to admit it, I have been a lurking one on the internet for a lo..ng time. Thanks for the wake up call. yes, I promise.

    Your blog is very motivating, have been pondering your tips since I stumbled on your blog just a few hours ago.

    I love the idea of being carbon neutral but the whole thing with purchasing carbon offsets, I think, is debatable- this is after I watched it on Benn and Teller’s last week.

    Thanks a bunch for your tips. Will sure be visiting your blog again.

    .. and this will be my last post as anonymous. Thanks again. I appreciate all the hard work that goes behind it.

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  9. Nice post Scott!

    The earth’s resources are dwindling and posts like yours make a difference by reminding people to be aware of this. I hate to think what life will be like for our grandchildren if we don’t incorporate responsible environment friendly lifestyles. All of us together can make an incredible difference.

    Thanks for the reminder :)!

    Julie Newmans last blog post..5 Easy Steps to Get Up Early and Gain Time

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  10. I agree. And as I think this article shows, it really isn’t that hard to make some lifestyle changes that help the environment. And in fact there can be “double positives” to such changes, eg the exercise benefits relating to biking to work or money saved from energy efficient light bulbs.

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  11. Actually that was a change that has recently come into my workplace. In the past we would restart the computer when leaving for the day. Now we shut the computer down, but even if we forget to the computer will shut down at 8pm. I guess the updates just take place when the computer starts up again, ie it will take a minute or so longer to start which is no big deal.

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