Ten Easy Things You Can Do for the Environment

Sunday, September 20, 2009

DSC06646I just blogged about participating in the International Coastal Cleanup, and while I hope more people join the succeeding ICC’s, I realize not everyone can. If you’re a concerned citizen of Mother Earth but lack the time or resources to join some of the more visible efforts, you can still do your share right at home.  Here are ten easy, common-sense things you can do to help protect the environment:

  1. Segregate your waste.  At the very least, segregate your biodegradable garbage – trimmings from meat, fruits and vegetables, spoiled food, paper or carton that’s been used to wrap food – from the dry/non-biodegradable stuff like plastic. Better yet, practice composting your organic waste if you like gardening.

  2. Don’t litter!  What does it cost you to find a trash can when you need one? A few calories’ worth of effort?  Compare that to the calories that would’ve nourished a child, if the plastic you threw away hadn’t killed that fish … Yes, that’s how much life can be connected.  Keep a plastic bag or small trash bin in your car, put your trash in there while you’re driving or traveling, and empty it when you get home. How easy is that?

  3. Be a responsible vacationist. When you travel, leave no litter behind you, and take home nothing that should remain in its natural environment. If you go to a beach, take care not to step on corals because this will damage them.  And no matter how tempting, don’t try to take any wildlife home. It’s unlikely you can keep it alive, whatever it is, and taking it from its environment means you’re not letting it breed.  
  4. Get your cat neutered, and better yet, keep it indoors. Stray cats are hell on our bird population.  The Philippines is one of the countries that has the most diverse bird populations, many of them unique to our islands.  As cats are very prolific and likely to become feral, they are in position to really threaten our wild birds.  So keep your cat where it can’t do harm to our wildlife, and keep it from filling the neighborhood with stray kittens!

  5. Buy groceries in bigger packages.  Even as we push for more eco-friendly packaging, we cannot help but get some of our necessities in plastic or styrofoam, etc.  But you create less waste if you buy less packaging – so buy in bigger quantities when you can.  The tingi system may seem cheaper, but only until you realize that a) the packaging costs more than the product in those tiny sachets; and b) it’s Mother Earth that pays the price in the end for all that plastic.

  6. Don’t be a consumer of endangered animals and plants.  You might say I’m not one of those, I never buy tiger skin or ivory anyway – but what about other products within your range?  From your dinner plate to your living room to your aquarium, ask yourself if there’s anything there that shouldn’t be. 

    • Don’t eat sharksfin, or other endangered species like the mameng (giant wrasse), or pawikan (sea turtle).  You’ll be doing yourself good too, as sharksfin tends to have high concentrations of mercury, and sea turtle meat is sometimes toxic.

    • Don’t use Chinese medicines that contain products like bear gall, rhino horn, tiger’s, er, privates, seahorses, and the like.

    • Don’t keep endangered species as pets.  If you want something other than a cat or dog, choose something that’s bred for the pet industry, not a wild-caught animal.  If it’s very unusual, chances are it comes from the wild.

    • If you’re an aquarist, ask reliable sources if the fish you want is farm-raised. Especially if you want to start a salt water aquarium. Some saltwater species can be bred in captivity now.  Most, though, cannot; buying them encourages, among other things, cyanide fishing.

    • Don’t purchase shells and corals when you go to a beach resort, or collect live ones. 

  7. Be a locavore.  Prefer to eat stuff that’s been grown or caught near where you are, and in season.  Save the imported stuff and out-of-season fruits for special occasions. Doing so not only gets you cheaper food, it means you’re not contributing to the carbon emissions caused by shipping that food from where it was produced to where you are.

  8. Replace your laundry soap with an eco-friendly organic soap, e.g. the Victoria brand laundry soap. 

  9. Reduce the time you keep your car’s engine idling. If you’re not going anywhere, turn the engine off. Keep your vehicle well-maintained, and prefer ‘cleaner’ fuels such as E-10.

  10. Spread the word. The more of us who take care of Mother Earth, the better off we’ll all be.

If you own a business:

If you own a commercial establishment like a restaurant, cafe, bar, resort, hotel, etc., make it easy for your guests to dispose of their trash. Provide marked trash cans at convenient locations.  You might see it as extra cost at first, but it actually makes a better impression on your customers.

If you own a farm, do make sure you have proper drainage and waste management. That river in back is not the place to channel your pigpen’s runoff! Yes, it’s extra cost – but it might be your kid that gets sick swimming at a contaminated  beach miles away, a beach contaminated by your farm’s runoff.  Even if your kids will never swim there, consider that you’ll still be affecting someone’s kids.