Updated: Dec 17, 2020
In the 1970’s scientists realized that the earth's temperature was beginning to rise. After the industrial period began pollution skyrocketed, and it didn’t stop. Today we are more aware of the negative effects our actions have on the planet. We’re letting oil spill into the seas, emitting exponential amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, and allowing trash collect all over the place. Anywhere you go there is trash on the ground, most of which is not biodegradable.
You don’t need to feel guilty about this, you just need try to do something about it. If we all do our part to make small changes and try to be more environmentally friendly then we can make the earth a better place. This is difficult in today’s world because of modern consumerism. The problem with it is that it is all about convenience, and everything’s made of plastic. We buy groceries that come in plastic bags, drink beverages in plastic cups with plastic straws that end up being thrown in the trash. We buy water bottles and they don’t always get recycled.
I know it can seem hard to always be conscious of the planet when we live in a fast-paced world that favors convenience over health. But the problem is that we are starting to see effects of climate change today. I’m not trying to catastrophize here, but our ice caps are literally melting as we speak. Polar bears are dying. Coral reefs are dying. Animals die and are harmed from plastic bags, straws, and soda can rings that end up in the ocean. We are seeing more hurricanes and wildfires erupt all over the country, and in the Amazon rainforest and Australia.
Things are getting serious. Changes must be made. Even if much of the problem is large corporations spilling oil, cutting down forests, and emitting smoke, we each can still try to make a difference. There are many ways we can be more eco-friendly. Here are 12 things we can do to help the planet.
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Each time we go shopping we are left with multiple plastic bags. These are harmful to the environment because they are not biodegradable and when they end up in the sea, turtles often mistake them for jellyfish and eat them, but they do not properly digest them. So one important change to make in order to be more environmentally friendly is to buy a reusable tote bag and bring it with you when you go shopping. Or at least save the plastic bags you receive and use them again.
This should go without saying. They drill the phrase into our heads as kids: “reduce, reuse, and recycle!” Bottles, glass, paper, and cardboard can be recycled, rather than just being thrown out and ending up in landfill. One problem today is that many apartment complexes do not have recycling programs. If this is the case for you, something you can do to help is to write a letter to your apartment and urge them to get a recycling program. You could also save your recyclables and drive them to a recycling plant. There are places where you can take recyclables and get money in return.
3. Reusable straws
Millions of straws end up in the sea. This is a serious problem. It’s so easy to just throw them out without thinking about it, but when each person does that, thinking it’s no big deal, it really adds up to a pretty big deal. This is an easy problem to solve! Switch to reusable straws! There are many options now. I use straws by the company Mermaid Straw. They come in different colors, can be collapsible, can be bought with a little travel container keychain, and you can get silicone tips for a more comfortable drinking experience. You are also really helping the planet by switching to these straws! For more on that subject, check out my other article all about reusable straws. You can also save 15% on Mermaid Straw by using the code THE_REAL_MERMAID_LIV.
Dogs poop. A lot. And we are responsible for cleaning it up. The go-to method is picking it up in a plastic bag and disposing of it. But again, plastic bags are not good for the environment. So try getting specially made doggy bags that are biodegradable!
5. Cut up soda can rings
This is another one they teach us at a very young age. You know the plastic rings that hold together cans of soda? Yeah, those are also bad. Animals get caught in the loops and get stuck. They are very harmful as they are, but they are a bit less harmful if you cut them up before throwing them out. Make sure there are no loops left when you’re cutting them apart.
Sunscreen is so important for us humans, but did you know a lot of it is harmful to coral reefs? We go to the beach covered in sunscreen to protect from the sun’s harmful rays, but then it washes off into the sea and contributes to the bleaching of coral reefs. We need sunscreen to protect us though. Luckily there are sunscreens made to be less harmful. Unfortunately they are a bit more expensive, but consider making this switch.
7. Never litter
Pretty obvious. Don’t litter. ‘Nuff said.
8. Pick up trash when you see it
Sadly, not everyone listens to tip number 7. People treat the earth like it’s a giant trashcan, throwing their trash out the window while they drive, or flicking their cigarette butts into the street. Trash can also end up on the ground by accident. A wonderful thing to do is to pick up trash if you see it on the ground and hold onto it until you see a trashcan.
9. Use reusable masks and cut straps if you dispose
Face masks are now an essential item. We rely on them to slow the spread of COVID19. The newest problem now is that they end up everywhere. Be conscious about your masks and try not to drop any. I’ve had one fall out of my car when I opened the door, but I made sure to pick it up. A good practice is to use cloth masks. That way you can wash and reuse them over and over again. And if you do ever dispose of a mask, be sure to cut the straps because animals can get caught in them and we don’t want that.
10. Reuse bottles
Instead of buying water bottles over and over again, try getting one glass or metal bottle that can be endlessly refilled. This saves so many bottles from being wasted! But it’s also a good idea to reuse any plastic water bottles you end up with. They can be refilled a number of times before they start to smell weird.
11. Avoid glitter in natural bodies of water
This is a huge thing for mermaids. We love to get all glammed up and wear glitter with our mermaid tails for photoshoots or gigs. Being sparkly just adds to the illusion of being a mythical creature. There are also mermaid tails made with sequins. Sequins and glitter are both small bits of plastic that can end up in nature, where they can get swallowed by creatures like fish and harm digestive systems. If you wear glitter, be sure to avoid natural bodies of water. In fact, it’s best not to use glitter at all or to at least get biodegradable glitter. Even if we don’t swim, it will wash off in the shower and end up in the sea anyway.
12. Don’t smoke cigarettes
Smoke isn’t just bad for the planet, it’s bad for our lungs. Ditch the cigarettes and prevent harmful chemicals from entering the atmosphere. Do your body and the planet a favor this way. Or at least try to cut back. Definitely be sure not to flick your cigarette butts onto the ground. Animals can eat them and be filled with poison.
Those are my tips on how to be more eco-friendly! I’m not passing judgement to anyone who doesn’t follow every single one, I just want to encourage people to try to implement some of these changes. This will make for a much healthier planet! We need the planet to be healthy in order for each of us to be healthy. So today, try to take some of these efforts in helping the environment!