The Lion's Tale

Simple ways to live sustainably today

Spots+like+the+Yellowstone+National+Park+are+representative+of+the+beauty+of+our+planet%2C+which+it+is+our+duty+to+help+protect.
Spots like the Yellowstone National Park are representative of the beauty of our planet, which it is our duty to help protect.

Spots like the Yellowstone National Park are representative of the beauty of our planet, which it is our duty to help protect.

photo by Ben Robinson

photo by Ben Robinson

Spots like the Yellowstone National Park are representative of the beauty of our planet, which it is our duty to help protect.

Ben Robinson, Opinion Editor

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In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd, here are a few avenues for you to reduce your environmental presence and help preserve the planet.

Make a wind tunnel. How do you stay cool on a hot day without hurting the electricity bill? Open a window and a door on the opposite side of the room, which should create a nice cross breeze between the two openings. If this doesn’t work, just use a fan.

Say no to plastic straws. Plastic straws are unnecessary and ubiquitous, not to mention injurious. Most are too lightweight to make it through mechanical sorters at recycling plants, so they end up in landfills, beaches and oceans. They don’t biodegrade but slowly leach toxic chemicals into the ground and water. The next straw you use could even become Nemo’s dinner. Next time you get a fountain drink, hold the straw, and Nemo will thank you later.

(USA Today Network)

Use permanent containers. Pack your snacks in Tupperware instead of plastic ziplock bags. Try to replace plastic drinking bottles, grocery bags, straws and other unnecessary items with reusable versions.

Eat less meat. It takes 14.6 gallons of water to make a one-quarter pound slab of conventional beef, which includes crop irrigation for 13.5 pounds of feed. Your average patty has a total carbon footprint of 6.3 pounds, which is why livestock farming contributes to 18 percent of human greenhouse gas emissions. You don’t have to become vegetarian to make a difference, though. It just means tipping your diet in favor of more vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes. When you do buy them, choose meat and dairy products from organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed animals.

(Journal of Animal Science and Animal Welfare)

Eat local produce. Ask your parents to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, as those are more likely to be locally grown. Non-seasonal foods carry a large carbon footprint because they must be shipped in from far away states and countries. Local food is usually fresher, healthier and tastes better anyway because it spends less time in transit from farm to plate.

Carpool more. Make a carpool schedule with friends to save energy on your morning commute. Also, walk or ride your bike instead of driving when traveling short distances. Consider investing in a scooter, or Heelys perhaps (although these shoes are not allowed in school).

Stand up for the environment. Call out your friends when they litter. Contact local businesses and question their harmful practices. Run for Congress and lobby for environmental regulations once elected. Organize a cleanup of your local park. Whatever you do, never stop advocating for our planet. After all, the Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth.

Avoiding plastic straws or biking to the store won’t save the world on its own. As we’ve seen with issues like public smoking, though, when people start thinking about their habits and make small changes, they can bring about shifts in consciousness that lead to wider societal changes. Therefore, our small efforts to improve the environment go a long way towards making Earth healthier and a more inhabitable place.

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