I always felt like the idea of going green was extremely intimidating. I wanted to help save the Earth, global warming is very real, but I’m no Greta Thunberg and giving up the use of airplanes seemed a little too extreme for me… On top of that, I never learned about Global Warming in high school or college and I really didn’t understand what it was until I started educating myself and allowing Nenad to teach me.
In fact, I realized that my biggest (and dumbest) misconception was also the most common: that Global Warming means there is no longer cold weather. Of course, this is untrue and when there is cold weather, people mock the idea of Global Warming. Climate change is not a political tactic… it is based on science that could care less about any political affiliations. No one is making up climate change to mess with your mind and scientists around the world have not come to the same conclusion by mistake. If someone wants to come to their own conclusion that they don’t believe in something I am all for it, I just think being educated first is a really great way to feel confident in your decision! All that being said, I want to shed light on what Global Warming actually is and a few easy and affordable ways that you can help make a difference!!
Global Warming doesn’t have to do with the weather but the temperature of the Earth’s surface as a whole and the steady rise that’s been showing for decades. Temperatures today are showing to be have warmed about 1° C (1.8°F) since 1750, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. That might not sound like a lot to you, but that small number has a huge effect on our planet. Here are some examples below, taken from NASA:
1. At 2° C warming, the deadly heatwaves India and Pakistan saw in 2015 may occur annually. These heat waves took a total of over 4,300 lives from those in the region. The cause of death included severe dehydration heat stroke.
2. Water Availability. With a rise in global temperatures, the need for water will rise as does the extreme heat. Those in the Middle and Near east will be particularly vulnerable.
3. Extreme Precipitation leading to flooding and other effects. At 2° C warming, places around the world will see an increase in heavy rainfall events, leading to higher flooding risks in Eastern North America, the Northern Hemisphere high latitude (Alaska/Western Canada, Eastern Canada/Greenland/Iceland, Northern Europe, Northern Asia) and Southeast Asia.
4. Impacts on Biodiversity and Ecosystems. At 1.5 degrees Celsius warming, 6 percent of the report’s studied insects, 8 percent of plants and 4 percent of vertebrates will see their climatically determined geographic range reduced by more than half (map highlights areas where monarch butterfly populations are affected). At 2 degrees Celsius warming, those numbers jump to 18 percent, 16 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
5. Forest Impacts. Warming of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius will lead to a reduction of rainforest biomass and will increase deforestation and wildfires. Trees at the southern boundaries of boreal forests will die.
6. Ocean Impacts. The IPCC Special Report states, with medium confidence, that at an increased level of warming between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius, instabilities in the Antarctic ice sheet and/or the irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheet could lead to multi-meter (greater than 6 feet) sea-level rise over a time scale of hundreds to thousands of years.
7. Marine Life. Ocean oxygen levels will decrease, leading to more “dead zones” — areas where normal ocean waters are replaced by waters with low oxygen levels that won’t support most aquatic life.
8. Coral Reef Impacts. Ocean warming, acidification and more intense storms will cause coral reefs to decline by 70 to 90 percent at 1.5 degrees Celsius warming, becoming all but non-existent at 2 degrees warming.
Food shortages, economic damages, droughts… the list goes on. This is a BIG deal and it’s important to take it seriously. The more I learned the more I felt depressed, doomed, hopeless, saddened and just shocked! The more Nenad and I talked and the more I researched, the more ways I saw that I can help do my part to make a difference. Here are some of the things that I changed in my life to start going GREEN!
I started thinking about items that I went through the most and one that easily came to my mind was my ear swabs. One time in the 10th grade I saw this kid with a bunch of build-up and since then I have been scarred. I clean my ears religiously (although I don’t know that’s good for me). I realized that I’d seen reusable ear swabs showing up on my Instagram feed and decided to try them out. Boy was I in luck because Earth Sider was having SUCH a good sale – I ended up getting two for less than the price of one! Just by this simple change, I’m eliminating hundreds of ear swabs that I’d normally go through in a year. They actually quote the fact that “2 Billion cotton swabs are thrown away each day in the United States alone. It’s estimated that there are more swabs and straws in our oceans than there are fish.” *SHOCK* Totally worth the purchase and they always have FREE shipping …. win/win. I’ve been using them for almost two months now. They take a bit to get used to because they’re a different texture, but they work great and I love knowing that I’m making a small difference. I gifted the second set to my best friend and it’s nice feeling like you’re helping educate someone else a bit!
Con: compared to the cotton ear swabs you definitely don’t feel like you’re getting as much ear wax out, but you get used to it and the truth is you’re not supposed to be in your ear digging for gold. Clean them a bit and leave them be.
Another product I used less of, but still a lot are cotton pads. I’d seen my favorite YouTuber, Patricia Bright, discussing these reusable cotton pads and decided to give them a go. They come with a laundry bag so when you’re done you just throw them in, give them a wash, and boom – you’re good to go. I was wondering if they’d wash fully since they were in a bag and clumped but they really did and I’ve cycled through them three times now with no problems. They come out clean every time. These cotton pads were listed on many lists for the Best Reusable Cotton Pads 2019 and I think they were more than worth it. They take off my makeup and any other dirt so easily and they still feel gentle on my face. I still use cotton pads for my nails to remove polish, but that brings me down to using 3-5 a MONTH. It’s not perfect, but I’ll take it.
Con: They do have some grit to them so if you have sensitive skin you might want to find something else, but the little bit of texture helps remove the makeup better. I know some items might seem expensive but going green is almost like a small investment… you’re saving TONS of money in the long run!
I don’t take food home from restaurants anymore and try to only use glass food containers now. As you probably know, most restaurants use plastic containers for their guests leftover items. This gesture is small but it can make a difference and it also helps me eat smaller portions since I can’t stand the thought of wasting money (or food). Now I tend to order smaller dishes that I know I won’t be bringing home with me.
“A new study estimates there are 2025 million takeaway containers per year being used in the European Union (EU) alone. It also says finding a way to recycle disposable takeaway containers could help reduce equivalent greenhouse gas emissions generated annually by 55,000 cars.” – Science Daily.
I’m not a vegetarian, but also I guess kind of? Initially I just stopped eating so much meat but now I haven’t had it in almost a month. We try to avoid animal products all together so we’ve switched to soy milk, ditched the meat, lessened our consumption of eggs, and try to steer away from cheese. “The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined…” says the United Nations University research facility. Many people think that transportation is the leading contributor to Global Warming but that’s actually not the case! So if you don’t really care for meat, might as well cut it out all together! If you’re a meat lover, that’s okay too, maybe just try to eat less. These simple things CAN help save our planet. You might think it’s extreme and that’s okay. If you don’t want to give up your eating habit then just try to cut back somewhere else in another category. There is plenty of research to support a plant based diet so it’s not a big sacrifice for me to switch over to that side and I quite like it. I feel like I have more energy, I’m less bloated, and I’m sleeping better at night.
This one is for my ladies… a menstrual cup! I started using a menstrual cup instead of tampons and pads back in August and it has been LIFE CHANGING. I use the brand Dutchess Cup and LOVE it. The cup is 100% Medical Grade Silicon and needs to be emptied 2-5 times every 24 hours depending on your cycle. (TMI but I change mine when I wake up and when I go to bed and it’s plenty! Most women don’t bleed as much as they feel like they do). My sister turned me on to this and I really will never go back. They’re safe to wear for up to 15 hours and there is no leaking involved! Another great thing – they’re better for your private parts. Tampons can cause tiny abrasions when removed and encourage bacteria growth, both things avoided by the menstrual cup. These cups also last up to 15 years so say goodbye to purchasing expensive tampons over and over again! The Global Warming angels are singing!
Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Nenad and I made the effort to replace the light bulbs in our apartment to fluorescent but we still have a few left! They are extremely cheap – about $2 for a bulb and compared to incandescent light bulbs, these are far more efficient, using up to 75% less energy and lasting 10 times as long!! This leads to reduced greenhouse gas emissions from energy plants and beautiful living space!
CAUTION: it’s extremely important to take precautions when disposing of these light bulbs! While no mercury is released into the atmosphere while they’re in use, “the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that three percent of the total mercury in discarded fluorescent lamps is released to the atmosphere when they break during transportation to a disposal facility. Other researchers estimate emissions are as high as 17 percent.” – CBC
Reusable Water Bottles
Okay, this one is SO easy but how many of us are still using plastic water bottles more often than not…. (my guilty hand raising in the air…ugh). Switching to a reusable water bottle not only saves money but saves the Earth and if you haven’t gotten it yet, that’s the point of this blog. There are plenty on Amazon and although they seem a bit high priced for a water bottle (in my frugal opinion), a good quality one that’s going to last is a far better purchase than a dinky one that you’ll have to buy over and over.
These are the ways that I’ve changed my lifestyle SLIGHTLY in order to be more conscious of our planet (which is dying a slow death btw!). Another awesome way I’m hoping to continue to change in the future is by using bamboo products! Bamboo is far more sustainable – growing up to 3 feet in 24 hours (in the right climate conditions). It has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties and is biodegradable, while plastic can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. You can check out great bamboo products to replace plastic and learn more about why it’s so good for the environment here. I also suggest Earth Sider again! They have PLENTY of bamboo products and they’re ethically sourced too, not taking away from any pandas out there. Well, that’s all folks! I hope you found this helpful and maybe start to implement a few of these ways yourself. If you do, please let me know! I’d love to know that changing my ways and sharing has impacted even one other person. Together, we can make a difference! Cheesy but always true.