By: Maddie Boyer
This time of year, I find myself stepping outside into the beautiful spring air and appreciating being alive on such a gorgeous planet. There’s something about the springtime that just makes you fall in love with the earth all over again. Because our planet is so precious, maintaining environmental wellness is just as important as any other element of wellbeing! Luckily, being environmentally conscious can be a simple addition to your lifestyle! Here are some areas in which you can get started and decrease your carbon footprint.
The food you’re eating (or not eating) may be taking a large toll on the environment. Food waste is responsible for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions (and is just a waste of money for you). Luckily, meal planning can save stress on Mother Earth and on your wallet! By planning out your meals for the week and purchasing your groceries accordingly, you can reduce the amount of excess food you have and account for leftovers. If excess food is unavoidable, try composting your food waste! Winston-Salem does not currently have a food compost program, but check out this article on how to compost in an apartment (or dorm).
Another way to reduce your carbon footprint through food is reassessing what you eat! Transporting food greatly contributes to fossil fuel emissions, so try to eat locally-sourced and organic food when you can. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are also easier to source and wise picks (and taste better)! Although a larger lifestyle shift, eating less dairy and meat can drastically decrease your carbon footprint. Try meatless Mondays or filling your plate up with primarily veggies and wholegrains! If you have to eat meat, reach away from red meat when you can.
Sustainability is in! You’ve heard it before, but avoid fast fashion. Buying for trends results in so many clothes being dumped in landfills, plus many fast fashion pieces are made internationally and have to be shipped long distances. Instead, buy a few classic, well-made pieces and save emissions, your money, and achieve a timeless look. When you’re doing laundry, wash your clothes in cold water! This not only will be more sustainable, but will also preserve the life of your clothes. A final way to be mindful of your carbon footprint while shopping is to bring reusable bags. This small upfront investment will keep the plastic bags from piling up in landfills (and in your cabinet… we all have that drawer).
Time to shed some light on how easy saving energy at home can be: just turn off the lights! Okay, there may be a little more to it than that, but switching lights off and unplugging electronics while not in use can reduce your emissions and your energy bill. We all know how hot North Carolina summers can get, but try opting for fans instead of blasting the air conditioning. In fact, maintaining a moderate temperature in your home, from raising the temperature in the summer and lowering it in the winter, requires less energy and reduces your footprint. If you’re somehow always cold like me, it’s time to get cozy with a blanket and fuzzy socks!
Transportation is a necessary reality, but there are still ways to reduce your carbon footprint and be proactive. Drive less wherever you can; walking and biking are more eco-friendly and great forms of exercise! If you have to drive, try carpooling with friends or ridesharing. Combine your errands to reduce driving trips while possible!
Though these lifestyle changes require a shift, they can have huge benefits on the planet. It’s easy to feel like your individual actions won’t make a difference, but with small steps together, we can make a great change!