Do small changes really have a positive impact on the environment? Short answer is yes, absolutely.
Too often we succumb to convenience or get overwhelmed when it comes to making a change in our habits that benefit the environment. Because there are so many factors that impact our world, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to even start. In what way can I make a positive impact on the world?
Ways to help the environment can be very small changes that an individual person makes.
If you are planning to make a big impact, chances are that it is not necessarily a sustainable strategy in the long run. However starting small right away, will perpetuate into an avalanche of good changes for our planet.
Let’s look at some of the small changes we suggest and what kind of impact they have.
Ways to help the environment
1. Always take a reusable shopping bag
I know it seems trivial, but the amount of people that still use plastic bags for their shopping is huge. This is why supermarkets now often charge for plastic bags. This still does not seem to drive people enough. They simply absorb the cost. Now this might only be a few cents a shop, but in saying that think about what you are paying for.
You are paying for convenience and indirectly funding a growing plastic problem in our landfills and oceans. Not a good way to spend your money in my opinion.
Why not invest a small amount in a few reusable bags? Now for this to be sustainable you need to have these bags ready to go for every shop. If you slip once or even a few times a month, eventually you will be comforted by the convenience again and paying for plastic again.
Place them in your car, bike, next to the door. If you really know the shopkeeper you can even leave one with them!
On average we use a plastic bag for 12 minutes and for what it’s worth, they last forever. On a global scale we throw out just over a million plastic bags per minute.
Take yourself out of that cycle. More and more shops are going plastic bag free on Koh Tao
2. Use a metal water bottle
Drinking lots of water is important. Buying PET bottles is not a sustainable solution. There are eco bottles that you can fill at stores, shops, restaurants and most work places. There was a big initiative on Koh Tao a little while back. This not only has a huge positive impact on the environment, but also during the transition phase you think about hydration.
Do I have water? When do you actually drink your recommended amount of water? Can I get my bottle refilled at those times?
At home you need to make it a simple solution. Either a filter attached to your tap or a refill container with a tap that you can easily fill your bottle with on the way out.
If you think that you don’t use so many bottles, I challenge you to keep all the PET bottles that you use for a month. It is a huge pile of garbage.
Forbes published this article where they estimate that we consume one million bottles per minute and do not recycle 91% of them.
3. Get a metal take away container
Most of us get take away from our favourite restaurants on a regular basis. Especially for lunch at work.
Many places have switched from plastic containers to cardboard ones now. However there is still the soups and sauces, curries, pastas that have to be provided in plastic containers. On top of that it often comes in a plastic bag with all the plastic cutlery to enjoy it with.
By eliminating the trash that results from take away, you are reducing your rubbish output significantly.
It feels good to know your meal produced minimal garbage.
4. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush
What!? Yes, we should throw out and buy a new toothbrush about every 2-3 months according to most dentists. They have all kinds of features and grip improvements, colours and mainly are a lump of plastic that sits in landfill and floats in our oceans for a very, very long time.
If you switch to bamboo toothbrushes you avoid throwing out countless plastic ones that last forever over a life time.
Sure you will get people telling you that the bristles are still nylon and last forever. But remember that is way better than also throwing out a chunky handle every time. Small changes make a big impact.
Besides there are now brushes that are made with boar bristles (waste product from meat production) or even charcoal bristles.
5. Refuse plastic straws
The old plastic straw. It really does not seem like a big issue, but compounded it really is. National Geographic estimates 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute our worlds beaches alone.
But what if you really like your drink through a plastic straw? Simple, you can get a metal straw. I actually found this a great gift for family & friends. At first they might think it is odd, but after a while you feel better for not throwing plastic out every time you have a cocktail.
Think about it, we don’t even keep the plastic straw between drinks. So every drink is a straw. And what about those awesome looking cocktails? Often they have a minimum of three straws in them.
Do you really need it?
Most importantly you have to remember that starting right now with however small a change will already have a positive impact. If everyone makes a small change today, that compounds into huge global change. By starting small you won’t get overwhelmed and will find creative ways to make even more iterative positive changes in your lifestyle that all benefit the environment. You will also inspire friends & family to make small changes, which can have a very positive ripple effect. Forget about worrying whether your effort is trivial. Anything helps and you can take action today.