Sure, you already know that you should be walking or cycling instead of driving. You buy organic food whenever possible, recycle and buy sweatshop-free products. But there are other damaging behaviors that also have a big impact on our environment. If you’re ready to take your eco-friendly lifestyle to the next level, read on to learn about five other damaging behaviors you may not be aware of.
The ocean’s ecosystem is hurting. Make sure you’re not making the problem worse with your shopping habits! Did you know that one pound of trawl-caught prawns may be responsible for killing an additional 15 pounds of “unwanted” seafood? This makes prawns one of the worst seafood choices to make. If you must have your prawns, go to a local fishmonger and talk with the employees to make sure they source it sustainably. Always check the labels on other seafood too and educate yourself to avoid other harmful choices like farm-grown fish.
Not Cleaning the Fridge
You probably already know that eating habits have a huge impact on the environment. It’s important to buy local and cut down on meat and dairy purchases at the store. But there’s another part of the process that you may be forgetting: food waste. Besides costing you money, it’s damaging for the environment. The simplest way to avoid food waste is keeping your refrigerator and freezer clean. An uncrowded fridge draws less electricity and items are less likely to get lost (and spoil) out of sight in the back. Finally, take a minute to learn the difference between expiration and “best before” dates, so that you don’t throw away perfectly-fine yoghurt.
Swimming in Streams, Lakes or the Ocean With Cosmetic Products on
Maybe you’ve already ditched products with plastic microbeads after finding out how harmful they are to our marine life, but there are other steps you should also be taking. Many non-organic lotions, makeup and sun creams contain ingredients that can be damaging to the environment. This is especially true when you enter the water without washing off first. Common preservatives like BHA and BHT can actually alter the behavior of fish. Dioxane is another scary culprit: it can damage fish eggs and contributes to the population decline of important species like plankton. Whenever possible, scrub off before you get in the water. In the long-term, look for products that do not contain these damaging ingredients.
Forgetting to Unplug “Vampire” Electronics
Until the whole country is run on a sustainable power grid, electricity will continue to be a major part of everyone’s carbon footprint. Many electronics may keep drawing power even when they appear to be off. Think: cell phone chargers, cable boxes, and “instant-on” TV or computer screens. It may go without saying, but big screens can suck a shocking amount of power while in “vampire” mode. Always unplug these items when you’re not using them. You’d be surprised how much money you might save on your energy bill, too!
Using Disposable Feminine Hygiene Items
You may already be aware of the environmental disaster that is disposable baby diapers, but what about other hygiene items? Ladies, it’s time to evaluate how much our monthly cycle may be costing the earth. Each disposable sanitary pad contains almost as much un-degradable plastic as 4 shopping bags! Tampon applicators not only end up in the landfill, but they may also be exposing you to dangerous chemicals like phthalates. Reusable pads and menstrual cups will help you get more comfortable with your body while saving the environment, too! Gentlemen, you’re not out of the woods either: consider disposable plastic razors. For the sake of convenience, you’re adding dozens a year to the landfill, where they never degrade.
Keep your eye out for other tips to help reduce your environmental impact and do your thing to educate those around you – and when purchasing foods, always look for local, organic and fair trade produce – stamps that the food you have selected has been subjected to stringent procedures and where environmental integrity is maintained.