Advice / all

Make a list of things that are necessary for survival like food, water and shelter, and then a list of things that we desire like the latest fashion trends or a new makeup product we’re dying to try. Typically our wants last for a finite amount of time and end up going into the garbage or rotting in the corner of our room.

Photo by Jada Kelley, VOX Teen Staff

VOX 5: Ways to Respect the Environment [opinion]

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Our very survival depends on the state of the environment. We can function for little time without sustenance and smaller time without water, but oxygen is non-negotiable. Our environment, the earth, is designed to provide for us. Numerous systems that are perfect by nature work every day, keeping us alive. But some of our actions are slowly yet surely taking them apart. 

While we can’t undo centuries worth of environmental damage, we can take small steps forward in our everyday lives. With a newfound respect towards the environment, helping it will be a lot easier than before. Here are five ways to help.  

1. Switch to organic substances 

Whether it be food, makeup or even cleaning supplies, there’s always a more natural option compared to their chemical-ridden counterparts. Some people stray away from these products because they’re higher in cost than the others, but the cost comes with great reason. These products aren’t grown or raised with pesticides or growth hormones that make the process easier. They take the natural time to grow and mature, which requires more labor. Along with these options being better for your overall health, limiting the purchase of pesticide-grown crops helps the environment immensely. Pesticides can tear down an ecosystem. They cause soil, water and air contamination, and also can kill off beneficial insects that help the environment

2. Buy bee-friendly honey products  

Bees are one of the main reasons we are able to survive. Without their pollination that allows plants to fertilize and reproduce naturally, about one-third of our food wouldn’t be available to us according to young Massachusetts-based bee keeper (known as Honey Queen) Desiree Gracie. While we may be able to technologically pollinate plants, the nutrients wouldn’t be the same and humans as well as the environment would suffer greatly. Bees maintain biodiversity, keeping everything balanced, and support many animals. To support these dedicated workers we can buy honey from brands such as Essential Organic Honey, Raw Health Organic Honey, Hilltop Honey, and Essential Organic Honey, all of which are ethical organizations that treat their bees well. If any of these aren’t available near you, try a local farmers market! Local honey is already good for seasonal allergies, and at a local farmers market you have the opportunity to ask how their honey is harvested and make the decision yourself.  

3. Consider hand washing and air-drying your clothes 

This one may seem a bit extreme but there’s a genuine reason behind both that can help the environment immensely. First and foremost, most standard washing machines use a whopping 30-45 gallons of water per load according to reporter Deirdre Mundorf’s article on the Bob Vila website. This mass of water that is used every time we wash clothing impacts us through depletion of natural resources, water scarcity, and damage to aquatic life. Both washing and drying machines have high amounts of copper that goes into the making of them. Copper mining destroys about a mile of forestry for every pit that is dug to harvest it. This is devastating to biodiversity and the amount of oxygen being produced is lessened due to the loss of trees. If air drying seems too sudden for you, try a spin dryer. Spin dryers allow for the same feel of dry clothes without using heat, are smaller than regular dryers and are usually made of plastic. If hand washing clothes don’t appeal to you manual washers may. Manual washers require more physical labor than actual washing machines but take less water and require less maintenance.  

4. Make a list of Wants and Needs 

Many of our needs are wants. It’s a hard truth to accept, but it’s not going to go away. Make a list of things that are necessary for survival like food, water and shelter — and then a list of things that we desire, like the latest fashion trends or a new makeup product we’re dying to try. Typically our wants last for a finite amount of time and end up going into the garbage or rotting in the corner of our room within a month. To help the increase of unnecessary waste cramming up landfills, think about how much you really would use all those items in your Amazon shopping cart. Would you use them all to their full extent, or would you use it once and then off to the corner of the linen closet it goes? 

5. Renew, Reuse, Recycle (The OGs) 

RRR stands for reuse, renew, recycle. All of these are great ways to respect the environment, and I’m sure we’ve heard a lot about them already. Reusing items can be seen in many different ways, such as passing down clothes to a younger sibling so they don’t go to waste, or using reusable bags to carry groceries instead of plastic shopping bags that take 10-100 years to degrade in a growing landfill.

Renewing can help refurbish and add new twists onto things like furniture. Instead of throwing away an old couch, try your hand at fixing it! Maybe sew on a new fabric or change the cushions to make it into something brand new that you can enjoy again.

Finally, recycling, the one we hear so much about. Recycling helps save energy, reduce landfills and conserve wildlife. Recycling is so easy that you may not even need to leave the parameters of your home to do it. Most neighborhoods have recycling services that pick up their recyclable goods for them. If you want to make a bigger impact in recycling, you could look into purchasing recycled goods or even joining and/or creating a recycling team that helps around the community. 

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comments (1)

  1. Vicky Dennis

    Amazing Work!