Servas allows us to travel and appreciate parts of the world that we've never seen before. The Earth gives us so many things, and it is important for us to be stewards of the land and give back to our planet in return. In recognition of this Earth Day, Monday April 22, we can all take steps to live more sustainably and show our love for the planet we all share. Here’s a list of 10 simple changes you can make today to have a positive impact!
#1. Always carry a Reusable Water Bottle
One of the easiest ways to reduce your waste and save money is by always taking your own reusable water bottle wherever you go! Americans purchase approximately 42.6 billion individual 1-liter bottles of water each year. Globally, people go through roughly 200 billion plastic water bottles annually. A vast quantity of used plastic bottles end up in our oceans, endangering the lives of sea creatures. Bottled water can cost up to 500 times what tap water costs, even though bottled water is not any higher quality (in fact, plastic bottles are often lined with BPA which is a carcinogen). Use your own bottle, save money, and help protect our planet.
#2 Eat less meat … and more plants and legumes.
Swapping out some meat for veggies, grains and beans is better for the planet and for your health. You don’t have to stop eating meat, but skipping meat even one day a week helps. Do you know that (according to National Geographic) it takes almost 2,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, that’s equivalent to about 3 average length showers!
#3 Reduce Food Waste
According to the USDA, between 30-40% of the food we produced in America ends up going to waste. Good planning and only buying the food you need can prevent a lot of waste and save money! If you do have food waste, compost what you can before throwing it away!
#4 Unplug Appliances and Electronics
When appliances and electronics are plugged in, they continue to use power even when they are not in use. By unplugging, you save power and money. According to Cornell University, over the course of a year, the average home can save an average of $200 by unplugging!
#5 Travel and Commute Differently
One big way you can make a difference is by changing how you travel or commute. The most environmentally friendly ways to travel are by foot or by bike, and they’re also the most healthy! If you’re unable to bike or walk, try taking public transportation or carpooling! It builds community and saves on money and energy and emissions.
#6 Ditch Single Use Plastics
Plastic never breaks down, so use as little as possible. These three ideas can make a big impact on your trash waste … swapping plastic bags for reusable tote bags, ditching disposable utensils for reusable ones, and treat yourself to a reusable straw - plastic ones stick around forever and pollute the planet.
#7 Borrow and Fix Things!
When we need something, we generally buy something brand new, but if you can borrow what you need from a friend or buy second hand, that reduces the amount of waste you produce! Also, when something breaks, try to fix it before replacing it. These tips help us appreciate the things we have more, as well as save you money in the long run!
#8 Buy Local
If possible, buy local when you can. Especially with food, buying local and seasonal food can be more cost effective and helps support local business! Buying local goods and foods also requires less energy for transportation, and local goods are often less packaged and fresher.
#9 Clean Thoughtfully
There are lots of ways to be more eco friendly while cleaning by using natural cleaners, which are not only better for the planet, but also much safer for human health. One way you can easily have an impact is by only washing your clothes when you have a full load of laundry, and by washing your clothes on a cold water setting. 90% of energy used by washing machines is used to heat water, so by washing on a cold water cycle, you can save about $70 a year on laundry alone! If you live in a warm dry climate, you can also reduce your impact by line drying your clothes once they have been washed.
#10 Go Paperless!
Possibly one of the simplest ways to have an impact is by switching to paperless billing. By switching you save lots of paper over time. It is also easier to stay organized by going paperless since all of your documents are accessible online.