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Five Ways To Green Up Your Life

Every year during April whether people are engaged in Earth Month, Earth Week or Earth Day, we hear more and more about the climate crisis and how this is affecting life on our planet. We are seeing the world warming to dangerous levels that we and other living things on earth cannot survive. From all the information made available to us we can see that we are urgently called to do what we can to turn things around. We need daily, committed, creative solutions to these problems. 


Here are five things you can do to begin to green up the way you live your life and be a positive force for the planet. 


Infographic of the 5 ways to green up your life meantioned in the article
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1. Conserve Energy

Power plants must burn fossil fuels like natural gas or coal to produce energy. This process produces large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas which is one of the gasses responsible for our climate crisis. Electricity production is responsible for 31.4% of CO2 emissions [1]. Conserving energy conserves natural resources as it reduces the need for fossil fuels. By burning less fossil fuels for energy we reduce the impact of the industry’s pollution of our air and water. Pollution is a large contributor to human health issues and is one of the major reasons for the loss of biodiversity (the number and types of plants and animals) planet-wide. Do your part by: 


  • Using energy efficient appliances and turning off appliances and lights when not in use

  • Using outlet strips or surge protectors so that you can easily turn off multiple devices

  • Using an eco-conscious energy provider who invests in renewable energy resources [2]

  • Getting an energy efficiency estimate from your local provider - many will come to your home and offer incentives or discounts for energy-saving products


2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reducing the amount of things you buy not only saves you money, but it is another way to conserve resources. Truly, an equivalent for most of the products we buy brand new can be found in a rummage sale, thrift, consignment, or other reuse store. That’s everything from the nails we use for products to school supplies, to furniture or clothing. 


We can also reuse many items like glass jars from the food we buy to store other items we may buy in bulk like rice, beans or flour. 


When was the last time you went to the beach and didn’t see some form of trash, plastic or otherwise, floating around?  A 2016 study showed that the US alone generates over 624,000 metric tons of trash every single day [3]. Billions and billions of pieces of plastic waste, an estimated 460 million metric tons, is making survival difficult for all inhabitants on both land and in aquatic environments. This contributes to various forms of pollution, habitat loss, and an over-use of fossil fuels. 


For the products we must buy regularly, recycling (or composting in terms of organic matter) should be the first option we think about for disposal. Foil is infinitely recyclable, so is glass. Plastic recycling generates a host of new products with less impact than virgin materials. Recycling paper reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves forests and reduces energy and water consumption. Recycling one ton of paper saves so much energy it can power a U.S. home for six months! [4] Further, composting food and yard scraps creates amazing nutrient-rich soil for your plant friends. Consider:


  • Checking your local recycling rules to make sure you’re recycling properly

  • Purchasing products with biodegradable, compostable or just less packaging

  • Using reusable/used products over newly purchased or single use products (including clothing & home goods)

  • Minimizing the use of plastic 

  • Creating a compost site at home - this is possible no matter where you live


3. Flow With Nature

We are a part of the natural world. No matter how we may try to trick ourselves into believing that we can separate ourselves from the ecosystems we call home, the fact remains that as long as we live on this planet we are in community with the other living beings in our environments. Learning to live with the way water, nutrients, and air flow through our environments is our best bet for continuity. 


So, when we think about the human health issues we may have around toxic chemicals in our household cleaning and beauty products, we may as well consider the ramifications the use of these products has on our environments. [5] If it’s bad for us, it’s bad for the planet. Using non-toxic cleaning and beauty products is not just a good way to avoid hazards like poor indoor (and outdoor) air quality, toxic irritation, developing several types of cancer, and disruption of our endocrine system (which regulates our hormones and metabolic function). Non-toxic products are biodegradable, and therefore reduce pollution of our waterways, are less likely to be detrimental to aquatic life and life on land. 


Living with our natural world means thinking about everyday things we can do to reduce our ecological impact. Like, turning off the tap when we’re brushing our teeth to conserve water. Here are some other easy things to do: 


  • Learn about economical, simple ways to make your own products

  • Use non-toxic and biodegradable products in and around your home

  • Beautify your yard with plants that are native to your area. These will come back every year. Flowering species are good for pollinators who are crucial to ecosystem survival.


4.Eat Sustainable Foods

Food production in the U.S. includes importing thousands of types of food products. This increases the use of fossil fuels, energy use, water, land (especially forests), and our use of aquatic environments has caused possibly irreparable damage to biodiversity and ecosystems. Fruits and vegetables grown internationally are often picked green and allowed to ripen with chemicals so they can be “fresher” when purchased. [6] Also, workers in these systems are often underpaid, exposed to high levels of toxins and lack proper healthcare. [7] On top of this, up to 40% of all food produced here goes uneaten. [8] When thrown out, roughly 95% goes to a landfill. [9] 

Eating seasonal, locally or home grown food is good for our health, and our pockets. Eating sustainably looks like: 


  • Learning to grow your own food in or outdoors

  • Eating local, in season produce (farmer’s market trip anyone?)

  • Looking for food products from producers that prioritize social and environmental responsibility


5. Go Vegan

Plant-based eating and a vegan lifestyle have so many health benefits, of course environmental benefits exist as well. Animal agriculture contributes to high rates of greenhouse gas emission and is the number one cause of deforestation worldwide. [10,11] On top of that, the industry uses 70% of all  freshwater available across the planet! [12] Waste generated is also high. A dairy farm with a little over 2,000 cows produces as much waste as a small city. [13] A recent study showed that a plant-based diet is the best for reducing environmental impacts of food production and use. [14] Some simple ways to embrace Afro-Veganism include: 


  • Swapping out animal based products for plant-based options

  • Learning more about the cultural roots of plant-based eating

  • Reading ingredients on packaging to avoid eating animal products

  • Increasing your fiber and nutrient intake with lots of beans and vegetables


There are so many benefits to greening up your life. These are some easy examples of how you can start thinking and living green. As you start down this road you will see hundreds more ways that work for the way you live your life. Afro-Vegan Society is here to support you through your journey. We truly belong to this world, let’s support our plant and animal siblings so we can all thrive. 


Take a look at our resources section for information, recipes and more!


 
  1. Ritchie, Caitlin. “How Does Saving Energy Help the Environment?” SaveOnEnergy.Com, 9 Oct. 2023, www.saveonenergy.com/green-energy/save-energy-go-green/.

  2. Berdikeeva , Saltanat. “Green Energy.” SaveOnEnergy.Com, 6 Mar. 2024, www.saveonenergy.com/green-energy/.

  3. Simmons, Ann M. “The World’s Trash Crisis, and Why Many Americans Are Oblivious.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2016, www.latimes.com/world/global-development/la-fg-global-trash-20160422-20160421-snap-htmlstory.html.

  4. “Basic Information Details | Paper Recycling.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, archive.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/materials/paper/web/html/index-2.html. Accessed 1 Apr. 2024.

  5. “U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis.” Recycling and Energy - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), www.eia.gov/energyexplained/energy-and-the-environment/recycling-and-energy.php. Accessed 1 Apr. 2024.

  6. “Identifying Greener Cleaning Products .” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov/greenerproducts/identifying-greener-cleaning-products. Accessed 1 May 2024.

  7. Agrawal, Renu. “Dangers of Artificial Ripening of Fruits and Vegetables.” Down To Earth, 16 Sept. 2019, www.downtoearth.org.in/news/food/dangers-of-artificial-ripening-of-fruits-and-vegetables-66753.

  8. “Farm Workers & the Environment.” NFWM, 12 Apr. 2024, nfwm.org/farm-workers/farm-worker-issues/farm-workers-the-environment/.

  9. “Food Waste Faqs.” USDA, www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs. Accessed 1 Apr. 2024. Breggin, Linda, et al. “Model Ordinance on Mandatory Reporting for Large Food Waste Generators with Commentaries.” Model Ordinance on Mandatory Reporting for Large Food Waste Generators With Commentaries | Environmental Law Institute, 2022, www.eli.org/research-report/model-ordinance-mandatory-reporting-large-food-waste-generators-commentaries.

  10. Arévalo, C., Splitter, J., & Anderson, J. “Animal Agriculture Is the Missing Piece in Climate Change Media Coverage.” Faunalytics, 15 Mar. 2024, faunalytics.org/animal-ag-in-climate-media/.

  11. “COP26: Agricultural Expansion Drives Almost 90 Percent of Global Deforestation.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 11 June 2021, www.fao.org/newsroom/detail/cop26-agricultural-expansion-drives-almost-90-percent-of-global-deforestation/en.

  12. Sandler, Vivian. “The Environmental Cost of Animal Agriculture.” IAPWA, 5 Aug. 2022, iapwa.org/the-environmental-cost-of-animal-agriculture/.

  13. Dopelt, Keren, et al. “Environmental Effects of the Livestock Industry: The Relationship between Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior among Students in Israel.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 16 Apr. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6518108/.






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