Simple Acts, Big Impact: Taking Care of Earth
sustainability

Simple Acts, Big Impact: Taking Care of Earth

A small guide to every day habits that lead to a better life for us and for the planet.

Our home is big, blue and green. It's called Earth. As we celebrate our planet this month, it’s a good time to think of it as our real abode. That means, if we don't take care of it, no one else will. It may seem daunting but there are several surprisingly small things we can each do that collectively can have a real impact.

Understanding that every single decision we make affects the environment is a good start. Think of the cup of joe you grab at your favorite coffee shop every morning. By the end of the week, you have used seven disposable paper cups and lids. Within a month, they account for 31. Yearly, you, and only you have left a trace of 365 containers for nature to digest. And that's just the start of your day. So why not use a mug or reusable bottle, instead?

By incorporating doable habits, we can significantly lower our carbon footprint (the greenhouse emissions and residues of used services) on the planet and set examples to others. Remember, we are sharing the home with 7 billion neighbors. By 2050, there will be 10 billion of us.

...every single decision we make affects the environment...

Here are some examples:

1. Eat a more plant-based diet. Journalist and writer Michael Pollan has already told us: "Eat food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” The reason is that red meat, particularly beef, uses more land and freshwater and generates more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of protein than any other commonly consumed food. It’s been estimated that if we reduce our red meat consumption even moderately we could reduce land use-related greenhouse gas emissions between 15 and 35 percent by 2050.

2. Walk, ride your bike or use public transport. Whenever and wherever is possible, please, do. One less car in the streets could mean savings of 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide a year. If you have to own a car, and many of us do, check your tire pressure regularly to make sure they are not under-inflated. The average person who drives 12,000 miles yearly on under-inflated tires uses about 144 extra gallons of gas! And if you're getting a new car, why not look into the hybrid and electric options?

3. Avoid flying. We are not suggesting for you to row a boat between America and Europe. But if the distance is covered by train, like New York to Boston, or New York /Washington, a train would be your most sustainable option. It turns out that boarding a plane is the worst footprint you can leave on Earth. And the more luggage you take, the more fuel the plane burns - so pack light.

4. Unplug appliances when not in use. About a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode, which means “sleep mode” is costing upward of $19 billion in electricity bills.

...boarding a plane is the worst footprint you can leave on Earth. And the more luggage you take, the more fuel the plane burns - so pack light.

5. Choose energy-efficient light bulbs, which last 25 times the regular ones and use 85% less energy.

6. Reduce water waste (shorter but more pleasurable showers!). Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth, or when not rinsing the dishes. As for your laundry: choose cold water. Almost 90% of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating water. Each household that makes the switch to cold-water washing eliminates about 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year, according to the Sierra Club.

7. Recycle. Keeping three trash cans at home is a must: one for organic waste, one for bottles and cans, and the last one for papers. Pay attention to products like batteries (that have to be recycled separately). When in doubt, just check these rules.

8. Upcycle! Reuse, reuse, reuse! Turn your glass of jelly into a small flower vase. Take your fabric bags to the supermarket to avoid consuming more plastic ones. The same applies to plastic straws. Don't use them. They all end up forever in oceans, destroying underwater lives.

Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth, or when not rinsing the dishes.

9. Shop local and seasonally. Think of the number of boxes, the air, and truck rides it takes for your product to get delivered to your door (double that when you return it!). Try to shop around the corner! Also, choose fruits and vegetables that are in season. By eating tropical fruits in winter, chances are they come from another hemisphere, which demands long-distance transportation.

10. Spread the word. Talk to your friends and family, especially your kids. Set a good example. We recommend Sesame Street's 47-minute video "Being Green.” In a fun way, children learn about taking a pledge: from recycling to turning out the lights.

11. Let your elected officials know you care about climate change. Elected officials want to hear from their constituents. Let them know this is an issue that really matters to you and encourage them to enact laws that limit carbon emissions and require polluters to pay for the emissions they produce.

NaturaBrasil has been committed to sustainability for its entire history. We work with local communities in the Amazon to help keep the forest standing (635,000 acres to date!), and we make all our plastics from 100% recycled PET or green plastic from sugarcane ethanol. We have been carbon neutral since 2007.