The way I thought about the environment changed when I moved to Hawaii and all of a sudden it was in my face every day and for good reason. Most people strive very hard to keep the beaches and hikes clean for everyone to enjoy and when the plastic bag ban was passed and enforced it was a wake-up call to re-examine how I live my own life. How is what I do on a day to day basis effecting the land, wildlife, and environment that is crucial to our own well-being and how can I live more a more sustainable life?
We can’t deny that humans are doing damage to the planet we call home, and most have witnessed it first hand in unprecedented high temperatures this winter. Yes, there are theories and even studies out there that show that climate change can be a natural occurrence or that it is cyclical. However, I would rather be on the safe side and just clean up my act.
While I have already taken several actions to live more sustainably such as utilizing solar panels to power our home, buying produce at local farmers markets and employing reusable bags and water bottles, there are still so many things I am doing that are harmful. I admit, I have lived most of my life choosing convenience over sustainability, mostly due to ignorance (and sometimes laziness), but I vow to make changes now because I know it’s not too late.
To Limit Use of Plastic and Utilize Reusable Products
This is a big one and something I spend A LOT of time thinking and worrying about. Just walk into any grocery or big name store after watching a video of a turtle with plastic stuck up its nose and you will be sure to get a sick feeling from the ubiquity of plastic products and products packaged in plastic. This is why reusable grocery bags, straws, utensils, and water bottles are vital to reducing this waste.
While, I count myself lucky that I live in a place that has a plastic bag ban, I am appalled at the loopholes stores were able to find in the law. In one instance, they have replaced their plastic bags with a biodegradable plastic. This is fine if those bags were ending up in landfills, but they aren’t. They still end up in the ocean where they suffocate the sea life before the bag has an opportunity to break down. The second way around the ban has been to implement paper bags only. Again, these can be recycled but they aren’t always and think of all the trees destroyed to make our lives more convenient. I vow to sign any petition that I come across to close the loopholes.
To Eat Less Take-out
Anyone who knows me knows I love take out. I hate sitting on hard restaurants chairs as much as I hate cooking so this is a more difficult vow to take. However, with every take-out meal you indulge in there is usually a plastic bag, 1-3 plastic/Styrofoam/cardboard containers, a plastic cup, plastic lid, plastic straw, plastic fork, 4-5 plastic packages of condiments and napkins. That is a lot of garbage for a meal that feeds one person! And if I MUST give-in to the need for take-out, I vow to request that they do not include a straw, fork and anything else I already have at home. I have metals straws and utensils at home I can use. Bonus: The health (and sexiness) benefits I am sure to reap from this change 😉
To Bike To Work
I live approximately 3 minutes from my job in a place that hovers between 75-85 degrees and only sees rain a handful of times a year. There is NO excuse for me to use gas to get there. Bonus: See health and sexiness benefits above.
To Eat Less Red Meat
I am going to be realistic in that I may not be able to go full vegetarian (yet) however, I do vow to eat less red meat. I won’t go into detail, you can get that here. To highlight the article, farming cows costs us A LOT of water and grain (enough to feed a lot more hungry people than the beef produced will feed), the farming of cows produces an inordinate amount of methane, and widespread adoption of a veggie lifestyle is projected to reduce carbon emissions by 63-70%! Bonus: Health and sexiness benefits AGAIN!?
To Buy Local
In Hawaii, EVERYTHING has to be shipped a very long way, so the more I can visit farmers markets and buy local produce, alcohol and other products, the less fuel will be used and emissions will be…emitted in order to feed me. Also, it is often cheaper and fresher! I might be benefitting more than the environment with these vows!
To Clean Up After Others
While I pride myself on “packing out what I pack in” while on hikes or camping at the beach. I can do more. I vow to bring extra (reusable) bags for trash that others have left. This helps the environment and leaves the island pretty for everyone to enjoy!
To Reduce My Use of Sunscreen
While sunscreen is great and absolutely necessary for protecting ourselves from burns and cancer, it wreaks havoc on reefs and they are dying out due to chemical exposure along with getting bleached from the sun. I vow to wear UV protective rash guards in replace of sunscreen and on areas I cannot cover, I vow to use biodegradable sunscreen.
Is it a coincidence that I seem to be benefitting from these changes as much as the environment? I like to think not. I think it was by design that what we put out there comes back to us in full. If we take care of Mother Earth, she will take care of us. We must continue to work together to make positive change in the world and THAT is the real vow that I will be taking.
Head over to Erica’s post to see her eco-friendly vows. We would love to hear what steps you are taking to be a better resident here on Earth!