Happy Earth Day/Care of Creation Day!
Do you want to be a better environmentalist and steward, but you're not really sure how to start? Today is the perfect day for you to make some changes, and here's a list of some things you can do that are easy.
Getting coffee or tea on the way to work? Take your own coffee mug to your local cafe. Better still: make coffee at home. You'll save about $5 and won't use a disposable coffee cup.
When you stop to get gasoline, check your tire pressure. If it's low, fill up your tires. Tires that aren't completely filled make your car less fuel-efficient.
Take public transportation for the day, if possible. If not, carpool. Better still: skip the car or bus to bike or walk to work. It's Spring! Get out there for some fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and reduce fuel emissions.
Need water when you're at the gym? Get that reusable water bottle out and actually use it instead of buying a bottle of water. Plastic bottles are one of the largest sources of disposables in landfills and the bottled water industry is contributing to the loss of fresh water.
If you haven't started using reusable grocery bags yet, go get some. You can buy cloth bags at most stores now, and they usually cost about $2, depending on their quality. They're far better for the environment than plastic bags, which are finding their way into landfills and oceans. Think paper bags are a good choice? They're better than plastic, but not as good as cloth because they still use trees. Cloth bags are reusable, washable, and strong, so you can pack a lot of groceries in one bag and not worry about busting a bag or breaking a handle. Pro tip: Keep your bags by the front door or in the car so that you never forget them when you need them.
Adjust your thermostat. If you still have the heat on, first of all, I'm sorry. I hope Spring shows up for you soon. Now turn the thermostat down to at least 68F. Go lower if you can stand it. If you're cold, put on a sweater or snuggle in some blankets and grab a hot beverage. Already have the air conditioning on? I'm sorry to you too. Unless you live near a beach, then I take my sorry back. Turn the air up to at least 72F, and 74F is better. If you're still hot, turn on some fans and drink a couple of glasses of ice water. Keeping your heat lower and your air higher will save you money because you're using less electricity.
Need some new clothes? Shop at a consignment or resale shop. Not only will you spend less on new-to-you clothing, you'll be reusing items. Reusing clothing helps the environment and reduces the use of modern-day slavery in sweatshops. Better still: repair damaged items you already own so you can continue to wear them.
Turn off the lights. When you leave the a room, turn off the lights. Before you leave the house for the day turn off the lights. It's silly, and a waste of electricity, to light a room no one will be in.
Take a shorter shower and don't use the hottest water. You don't need to soak in the shower. Long showers waste water. Using steaming hot water wastes the electricity needed to heat the water. Save some of the warm water for the next person who has to take a shower. (If you hear the sound of laughter right now, it's my parents and husband laughing at me as they read this suggestion. Try as I might, I can't take a short shower.)
Shop at your local farmer's market. Chances are, you're not going to save money shopping at the farmer's market, because prices are usually comparable to the grocery store (this varies by area and which grocery store you normally shop). On the other hand, you'll be buying food that was grown or raised locally, usually within a 200 mile radius, which uses less fuel than grocery store food that is shipped from other states and hundreds of miles away. Farmer's market products might not be certified organic, but in many cases they will have been grown or raised without herbicides, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, etc., and farmers take pride in letting you know this. You'll also be getting food that is in season and tastes better than its grocery store counterpart.
Repeat. Don't just do these things today. Use your reusable water bottles every time you're traveling and your cloth grocery bags every time you go shopping. Shop your local farmer's market as often as possible. Make your own coffee every day. Make a habit of keeping the thermostat at a more energy-efficient temperature and turn off the lights when you leave the room. Take public transportation as often as possible. Keep your car tires filled up. Take a shorter shower every day. These are all little things, but little things add up.
You don't have to aim for perfection. Make one change today if that's all you can manage. Master that change, and when it becomes a habit, make another change. It might take you a while, but once you've made all of these little changes habits, you'll have reduced the amount of the earth's resources you use. Some of these things, like making your own coffee or using a reusable water bottle, take a little more planning ahead, but the few extra minutes will save you money and make you a better steward.
If you are a Christian, you are called to be a good steward of the King's property. This earth is His creation and His property. Not ours. If we love Him, he asks us to obey Him, and to obey Him is take care of His property and the people He loves. By taking care of the King's earth, we also take care of His people.
What are some easy ways for people to be better stewards and environmentalists if they're just starting out? Leave your suggestions in the comments!