Helping the environment is not an easy task. Most environmental problems are not caused by one or two individuals, but by collective actions that harm the environment. However, by being one of the people who does care about the environment and wants to help, you’ll be joining a collective group of people who are taking the same actions as yourself. Together, these actions can make a difference.
The first three items on this list of 4 everyday ways to help the environment are the 3 R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Reduce means to use less of something. One reason there’s so much garbage on the earth is because humans use so many things. In many ways, we live in a throwaway culture, where it’s no big deal to use an item once and then pitch it. Examples are disposable plastic plates, styrofoam cups, paper napkins, and fast food bags. When you use less of something, you’re taking that something out of the stream of waste instead of putting the burden on the earth to store another piece of trash.
Reuse means to take something that’s already been used and do something else with it. There’s a great benefit in reusing items, especially if something can be reused multiple times. Many items have been made for the purpose of replacing one-time use items. For example, metal water bottles, metal straws, and cloth napkins can be used over and over, and each use of a reusable item keeps a one-time use item out of a landfill.
Recycle means to change the composition of an item by breaking it down and building it back up into something new. Most areas in the U.S. have recycling programs, where you can turn in objects like glass and plastic food containers, paper, cardboard, and aluminum cans. Although recycling keeps items out of landfills, it requires energy to process the materials. For this reason, reducing and reusing are better options than recycling.
Composting is the act of breaking down food scraps and yard waste into a rich soil. While it can seem intimidating if you’ve never tried composting before, it’s actually very simple. You can search online for tutorials and find detailed instructions, or you can do this. Get a large, sturdy, plastic tub. Drill some air and drainage holes in the lid and in the bottom. Put the tub outside, elevated on blocks or planks to allow drainage. Toss in your raw fruit and vegetable scraps (or those Brussels sprouts you forgot to cook), shells from hardboiled eggs, coffee grounds, and tea bags. Shred newspaper or any other paper without heavy colored inks and add to the bin. Stir it once a week to add oxygen to the mixture. If it smells bad, you need more paper. You can use dried yard waste in place of paper and green yard waste in place of kitchen scraps. Easy!
These ways to help the environment are only the beginning of what you and your kids can do. If you want to make a greater impact, you need “Going Beyond the 3 R’s.” You’ll learn what it really takes for lasting change.
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