The environment and your health
Green living is living in a way that helps take care of the earth. It also means using only what you really need of the earth’s resources. For example, do you like to take long showers? Or do you leave the water running while you brush your teeth? Both long showers and leaving the faucet running waste our earth’s water.
Sometimes, depending on where you live, it may seem like there is an endless supply of water and so it doesn’t really matter how much you use. But this isn’t true. The water supply isn’t endless because not all water is clean water. You can practice green living by taking shorter showers (set a timer for 5 minutes) and by turning off the tap when you brush your teeth.
Here are some easy ways you can reduce pollution and protect the environment.
- Reuse shopping bags. Carry your own bag and use it over and over again. Many stores sell cute bags that you can use for shopping so you don’t have to take a plastic bag from the store. If you have plastic bags at home, don’t throw them away. Some stores will collect these bags for recycling.
- Buy products with less packaging. When you buy things that have less packaging, you are keeping garbage out of the landfills. For example, instead of buying a box of crackers that holds eight little bags of crackers inside, buy a box that doesn’t split the crackers up into little bags. Take the time to make your own portions in a reusable bowl at home, and save the extra garbage from polluting the earth!
- Use less water. Do you need to get your car washed? Many car washes actually recycle wash water, and so use less water to wash your car than if you washed it with your hose at home. Ask your car wash if they do this. Did you just blow your nose? Don’t flush the tissue down the toilet! Just put it in the trash. No need to waste several gallons of water just to throw away a used tissue.
- Turn off electricity and unplug computers when you are not using them. Many appliances — like DVD players, coffee makers, and TVs — still use a small amount of power even when they are switched off. In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics and appliances is used while the products are turned off!
- Buy recycled products. When you use a piece of paper, you are using a natural resource from the earth. If you use a recycled piece of paper, you are protecting our trees and water.
- Plant a tree. Planting a tree can have many benefits! It can provide shade. It can stop erosion (say: ee-ROH-shun). (Erosion is when soil washes away.) Trees help keep the air clean and they make oxygen that we can breathe.
- Tell your community leaders how you feel about the environment. Make your voice heard! You can start with leaders at your school.
- Start a compost pile. Compost is made from things like grass, clean paper, and vegetables (among other things). As it breaks down, it turns into a dark-brown material called humus (say: HEW-muss) that is good for growing plants. There are many things that are thrown into the trash that could be composted, instead. Talk with your science teacher about how to make a compost pile — it could be a fun project that helps the earth!
Getting your parents involved
You probably don’t get to make all the decisions in your house. Most girls still count on their parents, grandparents, or guardians to do the shopping and keep the house running. In order to practice green living, you will need to talk to your parents about some of the ideas up above.
Remember: your mom or dad have been doing things one way for a much longer time than you have been! When they were growing up, shoppers took a bag from each store they visited. Each purchase meant a new bag. Convincing your mom or dad to keep reusable bags in the car for shopping trips may take a little bit of effort on your part. But talking to adults about the environment, and helping them to make changes that will better the earth, is all part of green living. There are lots of things that adults can learn from teens! And your parents will like the ideas about using less water and unplugging electric appliances because it could save them money.
Content last updated July 20, 2010