A selection of eco-friendly tote bags, glass jars and sustainable wooden utensils are displayed on a table. Photo by Olena Rudo via Canva
Climate Action

Surprising Ways You Can Help The Environment

While there are many well publicized ways we can take individual climate action, like reducing single-use plastic; recycling; shopping with reusable tote bags, for example; there are a number of other things we can do to help the environment that may be slightly unexpected.

Our personal choices about how we live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle undoubtedly help establish a positive difference. It’s worth noting, however, that the most significant thing we can do for our planet is to demand comprehensive, industry-wide change; that hold Fossil Fuel companies accountable for their overwhelming responsibility for driving the climate crisis. If defending our planet is not put before profit, our own approaches to environmental sustainability will become disconnected from the realities of what really needs to be done; saving our world from rushing into preventable ecological collapse.

We have the technology required to replace fossil fuels. There’s plenty of money, which is currently being squandered on the destruction of life on Earth. | George Monbiot – The Guardian


Making individual and systemic change that generates a global response to environmental protection and sustainability cannot be done without centering Indigenous voices. Fossil Fuel multinationals continue to disregard sovereignty, treaty rights and the protection of culturally significant lifeways that are connected to the land (not to mention water/food supplies and areas of ecological importance). Colonialism sustains its insidious tradition of taking and destroying Indigenous land, this time through oil pipelines, fracking, mining and other environmentally devastating industrial practices. Indigenous climate activism has to be part of every stage of climate action policymaking.  

Therefore, while we’re identifying ways to establish an industry-wide shift towards environmentalism that holds the world’s polluters accountable — find out how to achieve that here — we can implement a number of everyday lifestyle choices that prepare us to be part of the solution.

Here are more than 15 surprising ways to help the environment …

  • if possible, reduce reliance on using air-conditioners by opening windows instead — this isn’t recommended during extreme heat, but can be effective during warmer days that don’t necessitate it being on
  • during colder months, turn your heating down a degree or two and wear some warm clothing — this reduces your energy bill while being environmentally friendly
  • if your laundry items aren’t heavily soiled, wash your clothes using cold water — this saves energy, money and reduces the amount of microfiber shedding (plastic pollution) that synthetic fabrics produce
xTwo tall, reusable glass jars sit on a window sill. One is filled with wild rice and the other red lentils. Near them are some sustainable wooden kitchen utensils. Photo by Valeriia Miller via Canva.
Buying dried goods in bulk and storing them in reusable containers is another eco-friendly lifestyle idea — photo via Valeriia Miller/Canva
  • if feasible, air dry your clothes using a washing line outside or an indoor clothes rack
  • keep your refrigerator and freezer clean — make sure the coils at the back are free from dust accumulation, as this will help the appliances run more efficiently
  • when looking to replace clothing, household appliances or other items, buy secondhand
  • this might be an odd one, but flushing your toilet less will save you a bit of money and lowers the amount of water your household uses — if it’s just urination, skip the flushing
  • whenever manageable, limit car use when running errands; shop local and create nearby ‘trip chains’ where you do everything all at once on a route that reduces mileage and the need to drive — don’t forget to donate leftover canned goods to local food banks and shelters
  • get into the habit of composting your vegetable and food scraps — this minimizes your household waste and can be used to fertilize and improve soil
A row of 4 reused plastic milk bottles have been washed, cut out and filled with soil to grow lettuce. Photo by Thitaree Sarmkasat via Canva.
You can make your own plant pots by repurposing plastic cartons and other containers – photo by Thitaree Sarmkasat/Canva
  • when eating out at a restaurant, take your leftovers home so they aren’t just thrown away (you can even bring a reusable container to put them in) and if you’re getting take out, ask that napkins and utensils not be included
  • wherever it is offered, opt-in to paperless billing to limit the amount of paper being used
  • use matches instead of disposable lighters — it’s a simple trade between non-recyclable plastic/metal and a fully biodegradable wood
  • swap out tea bags and instead use loose leaf tea — there’s less packaging, no chemical infused permeable paper and the used leaves can become compost for plants/gardens

These seemingly minor actions represent an integral part of how we create a mindset shift that embraces sustainable living. They may be small, but their collective impact can be profound. And if we add our own individual climate action to that of a comprehensive revamp of how legacy fossil fuel industries wield their power and profit; we may yet save Earth and all that rely on it to survive.

What eco-friendly things do you practice in your everyday life? Where any of these suggestions unexpected? Will you try them out?

Further Info:

Tracing Big Oil’s PR War To Delay Action On Climate Change – The Harvard Gazette

How Long It Takes 50 Common Items To Decompose – Stacker

39 thoughts on “Surprising Ways You Can Help The Environment”

  1. Every little helps. Even the smallest of change that we can do makes a big difference. Love all of these tips, I always reuse my glasses if in need of a prescription change x



  2. Great ideas! Sadly, we’re unable to reduce car use where I live as it’s a rural area, but I do use the train if I have to travel to a city. I also regularly cuddle a hot water bottle during the winter, despite already wearing a chunky hoody.


    1. I think for a lot of people reducing car use is not an option, especially if you’re rural; it’s needed to be able to get out and about. I think if people who drive to things they could walk/cycle to, that is where reducing it is most valuable. As long as you’re doing what you can, then you’re helping!


  3. I love the fact that you included so many ideas that could really help which I would have never thought that they could make a difference. Some of them I already apply them where feasible. My mother would grow her flowers in tins long before sustainability become a trend πŸ™‚


  4. Some of these things are kind of shocking. For example, I didn’t know cleaning the coils on the refrigerator would help the environment. Good to know!


    1. Keeping the coils dust free and clean helps the appliance work more efficiently so it’s not using up so much energy, etc — I didn’t know this myself until recently so know I make sure I do it regularly. So many little things that all add up!


  5. Thank you for sharing such an informative and important post. Our changes, no matter how small it may seem, does make a difference. I’ve been skipping using the dryer and also walking or taking transit whenever possible. It’s also a great alternative because we get exercise and fresh air! I never thought to donate old glasses before, thank you so much for that tip!


    1. There are so many little changes we can make that benefit both the planet and ourselves (physically/emotionally); they all add up in the end. If we can get the government and fossil fuel industries to be as willing, we’d could make huge improvements. Thanks so much for reading!


  6. Thanks for the comprehensive guide, I think it’s so important we all know what little every day gestures can help. I’m all about shopping second hand these days, and I don’t update any electronic devices until they are obsolete.


  7. Some fab suggestions here and some I’ve never actually heard of before, which is great! I tend to reach for more clothing in the Winter than whacking the heating on straight away however my Dad is the complete opposite and would have the heating on 24/7 if he could – it’s hard to break an old habit!


  8. Such a great list of actionable tips. Definitely going to implement a few in my life. We really should make an effort to do more for the environment. We only have one home after all.


  9. This is such a fantastic list Molly! This list is a great reminder that there are a lot of things we could actually do to protect the environment and the little things count as well. I do most of these things except taking leftovers home, and using tea leafs instead of tea bags. I should get into the habit of doing the aforementioned. I worked with an engineering company that prioritizes sustainability during my internship and I was very happy to see how much they were into sustainability. There at the company, they reduced their paper waste by emailing documents instead of printing them out thereby reducing their paper use and discouraging deforestation. They also separated wastes. They had a separate place for paper waste, food waste and other type of wastes, they made sure to always dispose of properly and so much more. Sustainability shouldn’t be imposed on anyone as it’s a personal choice but we should all try to be sustainable in whatever little way we can. Thank you for this fab piece Molly!


    1. That is really encouraging to hear about the company you interned with was aware of the ways they could make a difference — and that they implemented all that they did. It would be great if this was the norm for all places where it is feasible to do so. There ares so many ways we can contribute to a climate action solution and it is increasingly obvious that if we don’t we are reaching a point of no return. I am always encouraged by the willingness of others to step up and take responsibility for a collective good — there is hope yet.


  10. These are all great tips! Thank you for reminding us of the many big and small ways we can help the environment. Taking your leftovers home is definitely an easy one and I do that all the time!


  11. Loved reading this and so informative! I love how we share these small things that might seem not important but still have such a huge impact when done everyday! I didn’t know you could donate even glasses and sunglasses, so will look into that! Also love the idea of getting people to use less the drying machine and more air drying, its much better! X


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