Even ordinary citizens can join forces to clean and preserve the environment. The list of small actions that together can make a big difference is endless, but here are a few ideas:
∙ Use less stuff. Manufacturing, packaging, and transporting consumer goods uses energy and raw materials and produces waste. The less you buy, the fewer resources you consume and the less waste you discard.
∙ Use reusable canvas shopping bags to carry whatever you do buy.
∙ Choose foods, lumber, and other products that reflect sustainable practices. Buying organic food, for example, reduces the use of pesticides in agriculture. Shade-grown coffee plantations provide habitat for a wide variety of tropical plants and animals. Before purchasing seafood, consult a Seafood Watch guide for your area to learn which fish species are threatened. Lumber and paper certified by the nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council has been harvested and produced in an environmentally responsible way.
∙ Conserve energy. Replace conventional lightbulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, recycle, carpool, drive a fuel-efficient car, ride a bicycle, or turn down the thermostat. Pouring filtered tap water into a reusable bottle rather than buying bottled water not only saves energy but also reduces landfill waste.
∙ Check with your electric company to see whether you can select renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar energy.
∙ Eat less meat. Farm animals and their manure emit copious greenhouse gases—especially methane—into the atmosphere.
∙ Pay attention to what you discard and pour down the drain. Pharmaceutical drugs, petroleum products, and harsh chemicals can end up in waterways and harm ecosystems.
∙ Encourage your local governments to set aside land for parks.
∙ Write to state and federal lawmakers to ask them to support legislation that can help protect the environment. The house.gov and senate.gov websites have contact information for your House and Senate representatives.
∙ If you garden, avoid invasive species. Instead, choose native plant species that attract wildlife.
∙ Don’t buy rare or exotic species as pets. Collecting these animals harms native wildlife populations.
∙ Donate time or money to groups that save critical habitat.