We know we should recycle, we know should carpool, and we know we should shut off our electronics. For the most part, we know the habits that can minimize our impact on the environment. But what about the things we don’t even realize are hurting the earth? Here are six daily things that can be harmful to the ecosystem -- and how you can stop doing them.
Using Takeout Utensils & Chopsticks
- When you order your delivery chinese food, you may not be thinking about the impact that your utensils may have on the environment. Plastic forks and knives contribute to the growing amount of plastic in our oceans. If think your wooden chopsticks are in the clear, think again. Almost 4 million trees are chopped down every year to make these chopsticks, and that number is on the rise.
- How to Stop: Use your everyday silverware to eat your takeout. This will reduce the amount of trash you create and decrease the number of trees cut down to create your utensils.
Making Your Daily Tea
- When most people make their morning tea, they put an arbitrary amount of water in their pot or kettle and bring it to a boil. What they don’t realize is that boiling that extra water is incredibly wasteful. It takes over 30% more energy to boil 4 cups of water compared to 2 cups. This energy adds up and can make a serious impact.
- How to Stop: Most importantly, measure out the amount of water that you actually need to boil for your tea. You can also look for an energy efficient kettle which uses almost 40% less energy than boiling in a traditional pot on the stove.
Indulging Your Denim Obsession
- The average American owns 7 pairs of jeans. It takes approximately 3,000 liters of water to make a single pair of jeans. In fact, the Levi plant in El Paso, TX uses 15% of the entire city’s water supply. Beyond just water, jeans produce exceptional amounts of CO2 and uses immense amounts of energy from the start to finish of production.
- How to Stop: Limit yourself to only a few pairs of jeans. Chances are you only rotate your favorite ones anyway! Some brands, like Patagonia, are also producing jeans that limit the impact on the environment, so consider these for your next pair.
Wearing Sunscreen in the Ocean
- Traditional sunscreens are filled with harsh chemicals that come off your skin when you’re in the water. These chemicals can bleach and kill coral, causing irreversible damage to marine ecosystems. Spray sunscreens are especially harmful, because the majority of the spray ends up on the sand, which is washed into the water or sea turtle habitats.
- How to Stop: Look for biodegradable sunscreens with Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide as the active ingredients. These all-natural sunscreens are mineral based, which means they are reef-safe and won’t harm any of the environments they encounter.
Moving Your Lawn
- Not only does using a lawn mower emit huge amounts of CO2 into the environment, but many American’s are inhibiting the grass’ ability to pull CO2 out of atmosphere by cutting the blades too short.
- How to Stop: Obviously, for many of us, it’s unfeasible to suggest we stop mowing our lawns. However, to limit your environmental impact, try mowing in the morning or late afternoon and mow slightly less often.
Washing Your Hair
- The majority of shampoos and conditioners on the market contain sulfates, which are responsible for the sudsy foam created when you scrub your hair clean. While that may make you feel like you’re getting your strands extra clean, these sulfates actually don’t serve a cleaning purpose and can be harmful when they find their way into waterways.
- How to Stop: Opt for a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner like these from Nurture My Body. They’ll still get your hair super clean without harming the environment.