How to Help Save the Planet Earth

 Method 1 of 5: Conserving water
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    Conserve water at home. Wasting water is one of the biggest ways individuals impact the health of the planet. Taking measures to use less water is something you can start doing right away. If you live in an area with a water shortage, this is even more important for the health of your region’s environment. Try to check off as many items as possible from this list:

    • Check and fix any water leaks. A leaky faucet can waste a lot of water.
    • Install water-saving devices on your faucets and toilets. A low-flow showerhead could be a good start.
    • Don’t wash dishes with the water running continuously. Use a method that requires less water to get the dishes clean.
    • Turn off washing machine’s water supply to prevent leaks. It doesn’t need to be on all the time.
    • Replace old toilets with new ones that use a lot less water.
    • Wash and dry only full loads of laundry and dishes. Doing a half-load wastes water.
    • Don’t use too much water to water your lawn.
    • Don’t leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth.
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    Use fewer chemicals. Chemicals used to wash our bodies, homes, cars and everything else get washed down the drain or absorbed in the grass, and eventually end up in the water supply. Since most people use heavy-duty chemicals for all sorts of things, chemicals are doing real damage to waterways and aquatic life. The chemicals aren’t good for humans, either, so do your best to cut back on them. Here’s how:

    • Learn about alternatives to household cleaning items that do not use hazardous chemicals. For example, using a solution of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water works as well as most commercial cleaners for basic cleaning jobs. Baking soda and salt are also cheap, nontoxic cleansers.
    • When no good alternatives exist to a toxic item, find the least amount required for an effective, sanitary result.
    • Instead of using chemical-laden shampoos and soaps, try making your own.
    • Instead of using pesticides and herbicides, find natural ways to get rid of weeds and pests.
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    Dispose of toxic waste the right way. Paint, motor oil, ammonia, and a host of other chemicals should not be poured down the drain or into the grass. They’ll soak into the earth and end up in the groundwater. Contact your local sanitation department to find out where the closest toxic waste disposal site is. [1]

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    Help identify water polluters. Individuals can only do so much when it comes to keeping water clean. Businesses and industries are often the culprits when it comes to water pollution. In order to protect the earth’s water, concerned citizens should speak up and find ways to stop pollution from happening. [2]

    • Join a local environmental group that works to clean up the water in your area, whether it’s a river, lake or ocean.
    • Contact your local representative to speak up about your views on keeping water chemical-free.
    • Volunteer to help clean up beaches or riverbanks.
    • Help others get involved in efforts to clean up the water in your area.

Method 2 of 5: Preserving air quality

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    Use less electricity. Coal and natural gas are the most common sources of energy that gets turned into electricity. The burning of these substances is a major factor in world air pollution. Reducing your reliance on electricity is a great way to play a part in saving the planet.[3] Here’s what you can do:

    • Use solar power for home and water heating.
    • Shut off electrical equipment in the evening when you leave work.
    • If you have central air conditioning, do not close vents in unused rooms.
    • Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120.
    • Turn down or shut off your water heater when you will be away for extended periods.
    • Turn off unneeded lights even when leaving a room for a short time.
    • Set your refrigerator temperature at 36 to 38 and your freezer at 0 to 5 .
    • When using an oven, minimize door opening while it is in use; it reduces oven temperature by 25 to 30 every time you open the door.
    • Clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load so that it uses less energy.
    • Wash clothes with warm or cold water instead of hot.
    • Turn off lights, computers and other appliances when not in use.
    • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs to save money and energy.
    • Plant trees to shade your home.
    • Replace old windows with energy efficient ones.
    • Keep your thermostat higher in summer and lower in winter when you are away.
    • Insulate your home as best as you can.
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    Drive and fly less often. Another big source of air pollution that has led to global warming is emissions from cars, trucks, planes and other vehicles. The manufacture of the vehicles, the gas needed to run them, the chemicals they burn, and the production of roads all play a part. If you can drive and fly less often, you’ll be doing a lot to help save the planet.[4]

    • Walk or ride your bike instead of driving, whenever possible. Find bike routes in your town and use them!
    • Join a carpool or vanpool to get to work if biking or walking isn’t an option.
    • Report smoking vehicles to your local air agency.
    • Maintain your vehicle properly. Purchase radial tires and keep them properly inflated for your vehicle. Paint with brushes or rollers instead of using spray paints to minimize harmful emissions.
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    Buy local goods. Buying local helps combat air pollution in two ways. You don’t have to travel as far to get what you need, and products don’t have to travel as far to get to you, either. Making smart choices about where your food, clothes, and other goods come from can help make a dent in air pollution.

    • Shop at farmer’s markets and buy food that was produced as close to your home as possible.
    • When you’re online shopping, pay attention to how far the items you order will travel before they arrive. Try to find items that won’t have to travel long distances.
    • Pay attention to where your clothes, electronics, home goods, and other possessions were made. As much as possible, buy items that were made in your region.
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    Eat vegetables and locally-sourced meat. Industrial farming practices are not only harmful to individual animals, they’re unsafe for the planet itself. Factory farming produces a lot of air and water pollution. You can address this issue in a personal way by doing the following:

    • Eat more vegetables. This simple change is a way of opting out of the factory farming industry.
    • Question where your meat comes from.
    • Buy only locally-sourced meat from a small farm.
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    Become an air pollution activist. Identify local groups working to combat air pollution, and find a way to get involved. By educating yourself and others about the problem, you can have a greater impact than you’d have by simply making lifestyle changes.

    • Join a group that plants trees to help clean the air.
    • Become a bike activist. Work to have safe paths built in your city.
    • Contact your local representatives to speak up about issues particular to your region. If there’s a factory spewing pollutants into the air, for example, get politically active to put a stop to it.

Method 3 of 5: Protecting the health of the land

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    Produce less waste. Everything you throw in the garbage, tie up and take out to be collected is going to end up in a landfill. Plus, all that trash – plastic, paper, metal, and whatnot – was likely manufactured using unsustainable practices that hurt the health of the earth’s land. By making less trash, you can reduce your impact. Try making these changes:

    • Buy products that you can reuse. Get glass containers instead of flimsy plastic ones, for example.
    • Don’t use plastic bags – use cloth.
    • Maintain and repair durable products instead of buying new ones.
    • Avoid products with several layers of packaging when only one is sufficient. About 33% of what we throw away is packaging.
    • Use reusable plates and utensils instead of disposable ones. Use reusable containers to store food instead of aluminum foil and cling wrap.
    • Buy rechargeable batteries for devices used frequently.
    • Copy and print on both sides of paper.
    • Reuse items like envelopes, folders and paper clips.
    • Use e-mail instead of paper correspondence.
    • Use recycled paper.
    • Mend clothes instead of buying new ones.
    • Buy used furniture – there is a surplus of it, and it is much cheaper than new furniture.
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    Make your own stuff. When you make your own dinner from scratch or mix up your own cleaning supplies, you naturally make less waste. Single-sized TV dinners, shampoo bottles and the like can really add up in the trash can! Here are a few things you can make on your own:

    • Food. If you’re really ambitions, grow your own! Otherwise, do your best to make as many meals as possible from scratch. Buy ingredients in bulk to cut back on packaging.
    • Body products. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste – you name it, you can make it! Try replacing a few things at first, then work up to making most of what you use. Hint: coconut oil is a brilliant replacement for lotion, deep conditioner and face wash.
    • Cleaning products. Everything from window cleaner to bathroom cleaner to oven cleaner can be made using all-natural supplies.
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    Compost. This is an excellent way to cut back on waste and improve the health of the land you’re living on at the same time. Instead of throwing your food scraps in the trash, compost them in a bin or a pile. After tending the pile for a few weeks, you’ll have rich soil you can spread on your grass or use to make a delicious vegetable garden. The land around you will be healthier and more vibrant for your efforts.

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    Plant trees, don’t cut them. Trees protect land from getting eroded, and they’re an integral part of the ecosystem. In saving trees you’ll be protecting not only land, but water and air, too. If you have room in your yard, consider planting a few trees to invest in the future of your neighborhood.

    • Do research to figure out what trees will be most beneficial to the environment where you live. Plant native species.
    • Aim to plant trees that will grow tall and provide shade.[5]
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    Work to stop clearcutting and mining. These practices raze and gut the land so that it’s no longer healthy enough to provide a home for plants and wildlife. Join up with a group working to protect your region from industrial practices that damage the land.[6]

Method 4 of 5: Helping to protect animals

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    Make your property a haven for wildlife. All types of animals, from birds to deer to insects, have lost some of their habitat to human developments. You’ve probably seen birds bathing in oil-tainted water and deer wandering through suburbs because they have no where else to go. If you have the space, try to be welcoming to animals who could use a helping hand. You can make your property hospitable in the following ways:

    • Plant shrubs, flowers and trees that attract wildlife.
    • Put out a birdfeeder and bird bath stocked with clean food and water.
    • Let beneficial snakes, spiders, bees, bats, and other creatures live. Having these animals around is a sign your ecosystem is in good health.
    • Install a beehive if you have the room.
    • Use cedar chips or aromatic herbs instead of mothballs.
    • Don’t use chemical pesticides.
    • Use humane traps instead of rat and mouse poisons and insect killers.
    • Use an electric or manual lawnmower instead of a gas-powered one.
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    Eat sustainably-caught fish. The oceans are being depleted of large fish populations due to overfishing and pollution. Up to 90 percent of the ocean’s large fish are now gone.[7] You can do your part to protect sealife by only eating fish that is in season and caught using sustainable practices.

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    Respect animals. Many animals that are thought of as pests are not causing real harm. Other animals that live in wild places aren’t usually in human view, so we tend to forget about their needs. With dozens of animal species going extinct every day,[8] they need all they help they can get. Try being more mindful in the following ways:

    • Let creatures like moles, groundhogs, and squirrels live instead of trapping and killing them. They may cause a little inconvenience in your garden, but they have a part to play in your region’s ecosystem.
    • Don’t disturb wild places like forests, beaches, wetlands and other areas where animals make their homes. When you visit such areas, stay on trails so you don’t accidentally cause damage to an animal’s habitat.
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    Work to protect animal habitat.[9] Whether there’s a particular type of animal you want to work to save, or you’d like to work for the health of all of the planet’s endangered species, there’s an animal rights group out there that could use your energy and time.

Method 5 of 5: Conserving energy

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    Use a solar powered outdoor light. These lights come with rechargeable batteries that are charged by the sun during the day.

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    Use the sun to heat your hot water. Search and consult with local appliance centers, this technology is more available than most think.

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    Install a low wattage motion censor night light for the bathroom. The bright light will only wake you up, so using low wattage is best and you’ll save energy too.

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    Install a shower water recycler. This water will be filtered and fill your toilet for flushing.

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Love Nature

Central Kalimantan, Indonesia

Every year more than 2 million acres [almost 810,000 hectares] of Indonesian rainforest are destroyed. Between 2000 and 2010, nearly a quarter of Borneo’s diverse peat forests and their rich soils were drained, burned and cleared.

Before this trip, I’d known of the plight of orangutans, thousands of which have died as their forest habitat disappears. I also knew about the outsized role that clearing of these forests plays in driving climate change. I was less prepared for the impact that damage to these ecosystems has on human health.

For me, the burning forests were a nuisance to my visit. For the locals, they were a matter of life and death.

Though it’s hard to track the number of deaths from these fires and their long-term impacts, airborne particulates from previous fires here were associated with a 5- to 25-fold increase in cases of pneumonia alone, a disease consistently one of the biggest causes of death of both the elderly and young children in the region.

Burning forests are not the only health threats to the island’s people. Borneo’s rivers are plied by barges scouring river sediments for gold. The process they use releases tons of mercury into the rivers where families catch fish and practice aquaculture. Mercury contamination damages riparian ecosystems and results in smaller, more toxic catches for thousands who depend on rivers for their food security and livelihoods. Parts of the Kahayan River harbor more than twice the legally allowable level of mercury.

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