Greener Choices

Ten Things You Can Do to Help the Environment

Samuel Rivera, Reporter

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1. Don’t use straws

After buying a drink at Starbucks or McDonald’s, the next thing you probably do is grab a plastic straw from the restaurant’s dispenser. Unfortunately, disposable straws are not recyclable and get thrown away to sit in a landfill. However, many times these straws end up in the ocean and harm marine life. For example, a video showing a sea turtle in pain with a straw stuck in its nostril has grabbed the attention of millions. Plastic takes centuries to decompose. If you think about it, the first plastic that was invented in 1907 still has not completely decomposed today. Anybody can reduce his/her demand for straws by simply not using a straw or purchasing a reusable one.


2. Recycle electronic waste

       Most people may simply throw away their their dead batteries and old phones or tablets after they stopped working or upgrading to a newer one; where else would they put them? Unfortunately, toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury are inside many of the devices that people use and when that gets thrown away, and those harmful chemicals contaminate not only the soil, but have polluted rivers as well. To avoid this, you could find your nearest location that recycles electronics or properly disposes of them. That can be Waste Management in King City or even the ecoATM’s that are located at the Northridge Mall in Salinas that even pay you a few dollars for disposing your unwanted electronics there.


3. Throw away less food

It’s a shame how much food gets wasted every day since there are millions of people who could use it. However, food that is thrown out and ends up buried in landfills also is a contributing factor to climate change. When organic material decomposes without oxygen (i.e. underground landfills), methane gas is produced and makes its way into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas which trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere and currently there is too much being produced by humans. You can reduce your contribution to rapid climate change by throwing out less food and possibly create a compost pile so that your food scraps can decompose with oxygen.


4. Buy used clothing and donate

Did you know that it could take about 1,800 gallons of water to make a typical pair of cotton jeans? Much of the environment depends on people’s buying habits and the more that people spend on new clothes, the more that will be produced, and the more resources will be used. You could help make this issue less serious by donating your clothing instead of throwing it away and buying donated clothing at your nearest Goodwill or thrift store. The less new clothing people buy, the less resources will be used to make new clothes.


5. Consume less meat

Americans eat massive amounts of meat compared to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, meat production uses a lot of resources and produces large amounts of greenhouse gases such as methane. One pound of beef is estimated to cost 2,400 gallons of water from what livestock drinks and the water used to grow cow feed. Buying less meat would reduce the demand for livestock and therefore reduce the amount of water used in the meat industry. Not only is eating less meat better for the environment, but healthier as well if substituted with more fruits and vegetables.


6. Don’t flush “flushable” wipes

Do not be fooled by the label on the package! The name “flushable” wipes merely means that they these alternatives to toilet paper can go down the toilet. However, unlike toilet paper, wipes do not breakdown and many times create clogs in the the sewer systems of cities all over the world. In order to remove these clogs in sewers, cities must pay massive amounts of money just because people mistakenly think that “flushable” wipes are okay to flush.


7. Avoid bottled soap

You have likely heard to stop using plastic, single-use water bottles and to start using a reusable one. Well the same could apply for plastic soap bottles. To reduce the amount of plastic you or your family uses, you could start using bars of soap which leave nothing behind except the recyclable cardboard box it came in.


8. Carpool and use public transportation

A contributor to climate change, and therefore many of the environmental damages it causes, is transportation. One way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions is by carpooling or taking the bus. For example, four coworkers would burn less gasoline and reduce their damage to the atmosphere if they were to all drive together in one car instead of taking four separate vehicles to work. Not only does this reduce carbon emissions, a greenhouse gas, but it would also save you gas money if you were to divide the costs among your carpool.


9. Shop online

Online shopping can be a great way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted into the atmosphere. For example, instead of 20 people from a neighborhood driving to a store to buy whatever they need, one vehicle can deliver the orders of these 20 people and burn much less gas than 20 separate vehicles. However, you should refrain from the fast shipping option when you shop online when it’s not necessary since delivery vehicles do not fill up their entire space with packages since they are being rushed. By buying online and allowing delivery trucks to take their time and fill their vehicles, people can reduce their carbon footprint.


10. Double-check expiration dates

This relates back to trying to waste less food. Many people throw out food after noticing that it is passed the expiration date. However, it is important to note that the expiration date is not 100% accurate. Sellers merely estimate when their products will no longer taste as good and make a guess to when their food will expire. So next time your milk is spoiled according to the date on the gallon, double check to make sure.