Caring about the environment tends to be associated with liberal and democratic ideologies. Why? Caring about the world we live in shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

People of all ages tend to associate being environmentally conscious as one of two things: being an extreme hippie who doesn’t keep themselves clean, or an extremely expensive and inconvenient lifestyle. Being environmentally conscious doesn’t have to be either of those things, though. There are simple and quick steps that we can all take each and every day to make the world we live in a better place. Here are 8 simple ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint, and encourage others to do the same.

  1. Stop using reusable plastic drinking straws

You may have seen a recent video go viral of a turtle with a plastic drinking straw stuck in its nose. If you haven’t, at least you now know about it. Small things such as plastic straws can negatively impact our wildlife.

When you think about it, are these reusable drinking straws really necessary? No, they’re not, just drink straight out of the cup. If you absolutely need to drink out of a straw, buy a small pack of reusable ones, like these. Many of these packs even come with a cleaning brush, so the excuse that you can’t keep them clean isn’t really an excuse anymore. You can use these at home, and even keep them in your purse to use them when out at restaurants or grabbing takeout.

P.S. Starbucks lovers: if you didn’t know, Starbucks now has lids for their cold beverages that don’t require straws. They developed them for their nitro cold brew drink, but you can ask for one anytime you get a cold drink — as long as they have the lids, they’ll gladly give you one.

  1. Use reusable grocery bags when shopping

Keep a few reusable tote bags in your car. Anytime you go to the grocery store, or even just shopping in general, take the bags inside with you to put your groceries in, instead of using the store’s plastic/paper bags. Any store will allow you to do this, and there are even some stores that will give you a small discount for purchasing their own brand of reusable bags and using them.

If everyone did this, it would cut down on so much plastic and paper waste.

  1. Recycle, recycle, recycle

This is an obvious one, but so many people still don’t take the time to recycle. Yes, it may take some extra time and thought to recycle, especially in your own home, but isn’t it worth it? Some areas will even pay you to recycle. If saving the environment isn’t really your end goal, at least there could be a money incentive.

  1. Use cloth napkins at home

There are more benefits to using cloth napkins than just being environmentally conscious: they’re more durable than regular napkins, and you’ll save a lot of money over time when you aren’t having to constantly buy new disposable ones.

  1. Stop using disposable utensils, plates, bowls, etc.

I know, using using disposable products is tempting, because that means you don’t have to do the dishes when you’re done. As a previous college student, I know the feeling all too well, but think about it this way: by using regular plates and utensils, you’re cutting down on your waste. In addition, similar to the cloth napkins, you could be saving a lot of money over time.

  1. Start using a reusable water bottle

This is a big way to reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re one of those people who is constantly buying plastic water bottles, please consider buying a reusable water bottle instead. If you’re concerned about the quality of water you’re drinking, you can buy one with a filter.

The vast majority of plastic bottles don’t get recycled, and it takes three times the amount of water in a water bottle to even produce one bottle.

RELATED READ: A Conservative’s Guide To The Environment

  1. Carpool everywhere you can… class, work, even the gym!

If more people started carpooling, that would mean less cars on the road, using less gas. While this obviously reduces your carbon footprint, it also could get everyone to be on time more often due to less traffic, and even reduce road rage.

  1. Dry your clothes outside, if possible

Obviously this isn’t possible in all parts of the world, due to weather, safety, and other factors. But if it is possible for you, this is a great solution to becoming more environmentally conscious. Clothes dryers often use more energy than anything else in a house.

You don’t even have to hang them outside to dry. Purchase a clothes rack and set it up somewhere inside your house. You’ll cut down on energy, and in turn, your energy bill.

Jessica M
FFL Contributor
Jessica is a student at Shippensburg University pursuing a bachelor’s in Public Relations. She is a lover of all things pink & sparkly, going to church every Sunday morning, puppies & pigs, and Netflix binges. She is fiercely patriotic and hopes to have another president like Ronald Reagan. She has a southern state of mind and plans on moving to the South someday!

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