My+favorite+photo+of+our+planet+lately--a+reminder+what+were+working+for.

Katelynn Heilman

My favorite photo of our planet lately–a reminder what we’re working for.

Making changes isn’t an option anymore, there are things we can do right now

In recent years, as the rapidly declining rate of Earth becomes a more intensely looming threat, the gloom of the planet’s future has become incredibly disheartening and seemingly unavoidable. 

It’s difficult to illustrate the state of Earth and eloquently establish how dire the need for change is. In short: very. The planet is suffering; climate change is both real and extremely threatening, and it seems as though so many can’t seem to wrap their heads around it. 

Nearly everyone knows about the ice caps melting, severe deforestation ruining our ecosystems, and the very dispiriting reality that at least 200 species go extinct each year. These problems all seem so much bigger than the influence of one person, and what many people don’t know is how much they can really do to combat these jarring statistics. 

For starters, food consumption plays a much larger role in an environmental footprint than people may think. Any mass production of food has the obvious implications of overusing materials, clearing forests to make room for crops and animal grazing areas, and many other unsanitary, hidden truths. Many documentaries, such as Cowspiracy, Food, Inc., and many more, have revealed the corrupt and harmful nature of the meat industry. 

The meat industry, obviously, mistreats animals horribly. Even when poultry products use selling words such as “cage-free,” it most likely really means that hundreds of chickens are stored together in a large building with very little given room to move freely. These companies will also pollute their products with harmful antibiotics, pesticides, and bacteria in order to make the most profit possible with little remorse for customer health. Even more, the biggest culprit for releasing greenhouse gases, by far, is the meat industry. With little regulation on their production of these harmful gases, this trend continues.

However, there are always going to be ways to combat issues such as these, even when it seems so out of reach. Although the obvious conclusion is a vegetarian or vegan diet, that can sometimes be unrealistic for certain consumers. Luckily, there are many more solutions than just submitting to the monstrous giant that is the meat industry. 

Buy locally. 

This is a simple but vitally important phrase in all regards. Buying from local farmers not only has benefits such as supporting the local economy, but it also decreases the use of fossil fuels by requiring less transportation from source to consumer. Also, because these foods don’t need to sustain long journeys driving to their distribution locations, harmful preservatives are not necessary to keep them fresh, thus meaning the food is better for you as well. 

Taking shorter showers and turning off the water in between wetting your brush and brushing your teeth may seem like silly attempts to save the world, but the real hope in these small actions is that they carry out into bigger actions and keep everyone conscious of their impact on the planet.

Additionally, wasting less food is a key component to assisting our environment. This means being conscious of what you purchase in relation to what you eat. This can also mean composting; many don’t consider compost as it may seem like a difficult or inconvenient addition to their lifestyles. However, storing a small compost bucket under your sink, in your garage, or so forth is one small step to making a large environmental difference. 

Electricity and water usage are also vital components to keep conscious of. It may have been a bit cheesy when Disney was making commercials encouraging children to turn off lights when they weren’t using them, but this message is imperative, and at least for me, constantly sticks out in my head. 

Taking shorter showers and turning off the water in between wetting your brush and brushing your teeth may seem like silly attempts to save the world, but the real hope in these small actions is that they carry out into bigger actions and keep everyone conscious of their impact on the planet. 

There are so many more very simple items that benefit Earth. Luckily, sustainability is such a popular trend in media recently, and a simple search of earth-saving related keywords can bring pages filled with great advice on upcycling clothing, sustainable food cooking tutorials, and other mass amounts of content based on the idea of lessening the average person’s ecological footprint. 

All anyone really has to do is be curious about how they can be better to our planet. 

Overall, all I can encourage is to ask questions and make it difficult for yourself and others to submit to the societal norms that deteriorate our environment. Try to do one thing each month or week that pushes a little outside the boundaries of the ‘little’ things.

At the end of the day, making changes is no longer an option. These actions, amongst a vast array of others, are great ways to begin the journey to a greater future. A future bountifully filled with opportunities for the planet and all those on it.

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