7 Quick and Easy Things to Make Shift Happen
by Wesley Wright, MASc
We often hear of the things we can do to help the planet, but a lot of the suggestions may seem to just be too much of a change in lifestyle (like going vegan) or too expensive (like installing solar panels or buying an electric car). To this end, we have provided below a list of inexpensive and simple things that you can do right now to help out the planet . . .
1. Say “No” to plastic!
Refuse styrofoam plates and containers, plastic disposable cutlery and straws and instead, try going litterless (no garbage) for lunch one day. This will require some preparation, like bringing in leftovers to work in a reusable lunch container, bringing a water bottle/travel mug/Thermos, and some reusable cutlery (from home, that you keep at work, or carry with you in a travel kit). And if you don’t succeed in going fully litterless, that’s ok – just making the effort means you’re Making Shift Happen! If you have any food scraps, seek to compost them, and if you use paper napkins, seek to reduce the number that you use, use a reusable cloth napkin or challenge yourself to not even need one at all. Click here to see our reusable line of plastic-free solutions! (go to Solutions page)
2. BYOB (bring your own bag)
The next time you head out to do some shopping, bring a couple of bags with you. These can be whatever you have lying around your home – plastic bags, cloth bags, a backpack, or whatever else you wish. Anything that you bring will mean one less plastic bag that you likely don’t need. You could keep a few bags in the trunk of your car (or at work).
3. Where’s the beef?
Try saying no to beef for a single meal. Beef cattle appear to have the greatest environmental impact of all livestock, followed by chickens and then pigs. Turkeys, sheep and goats seem to have the least impacts of all livestock. Or if you’re really daring, try that gourmet vegetarian pizza slice instead of the meat lover’s for a change.
4. Garbage as garbage bags
Why use a perfectly good, clean plastic bag to line your kitchen or bathroom garbage bin when you can use an empty potato chip bag instead? A bag that is not recyclable in your area (possibly snack food bags, plastic stand-up pouches) is best for this, since it’s destined for the garbage anyway. You could even keep one with a Ziploc/sealable top in your car or truck for this purpose too.
5. Give a different gift – dinner or donation
For that person who’s difficult to shop for, don’t shop! Instead, consider making a donation in his/her name to a charity that you or they support, or inviting him/her over for dinner at your place. Charitable donations help people to consider the planet or the less fortunate, and a meal together can be a great way to spend quality time together. Either way you choose, there’s no gift-wrapping involved!
6. Offer a ride to a friend
If you’re heading somewhere and need to drive, consider carpooling by offering a ride to a friend or family member. It may prevent them from having to take their own car (thereby reducing emissions) and it could be a great way to catch up and make the rush hour traffic less stressful.
7. Treasure your trash
Instead of throwing out any unneeded items, instead consider donating or freecycling them. You can: leave them out on your curb; donate clothing to a homeless shelter; drop off kitchenware and other items at a thrift store; and give tools, camping gear and other items to a lending library. Lending libraries are a great way to keep items out of the landfill and into the hands of many people who need them but don’t have the space for them and/or the money to buy them.
Wesley Wright, MASc, Managing Director of Ahimsa Eco Solutions, is a passionate advocate for environmental stewardship. Wesley’s role includes spearheading the launch of an environmental movement to “Make Shift Happen” in an effort to move towards a sustainable and waste free society. He integrates his knowledge of different fields such as molecular biology/genetics, ecology, environmental engineering, critical thinking, ethics, permaculture, design, urban planning, organic gardening, and biomimicry to help empower people to realize their environmental goals.