The Easiest Ways to Save the Planet from Home

Using Less Means More Trees, More Money, and Less Toxic Microplastic.

hands holding earth


As we pause our constant busy pace in order to save lives, we see what a difference we can make when we all work together. Because we have disrupted many of our routines and habits, we may find it easier to change some habits permanently to help the planet still be livable by the end of this century and beyond. Using less helps the planet more.

Los Angeles skyline with San Gabriel mountains behind, before picture shows smog obscuring mountains, while after picture shows mountains crystal clear.

Smog around the Los Angeles skyline used to obscure the San Gabriel Mountains.

 

Reducing Helps the Environment Even More than Recycling Does

You may already help by recycling right—rinsing out and drying a container before throwing it in the blue bin. But “recycle” comes third in our “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra because reducing and reusing help the environment even more.

drop of water on leaf shows reflection of entire earth

 

Why Using Less Helps the Planet More

Reducing has the biggest impact because you lessen the demand for more resources and use less energy manufacturing and transporting products. 

Reducing:

  • Saves money
  • Saves energy
  • Prevents pollution from harvesting and transporting raw materials
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change
  • Helps the planet stay livable for our children and future grandchildren
  • Lowers how much we have to recycle or send to landfills and incinerators

    While recycling helps reduce trash, of the 8.4 percent of plastic that gets recycled in the US, most is only recycled one time because the quality degrades each time it is recycled. Then it joins the rest of the plastic polluting our planet as toxic microplastics in our air, water, and earth.

Reducing Means More Trees to Clean Greenhouse Gases Out of the Air

 

Pine tree grove

Americans use 110 million trees just for paper towels every year.

When we reduce our use of single-use paper products, we cut down fewer trees—trees that fight global warming by turning carbon in the air into oxygen.

When we reduce our use of petroleum-based plastic water bottles, we won’t have as much plastic in our oceans and landfills that breaks down into toxic microplastics that will stay in our water and air for centuries.

It’s Easy to Use Less Right Now

Here are some easy ways to reduce that can save you hundreds of dollars a year, as well.

empty shelves in a grocery store

A shortage of single use paper products in stores is driving us to reusable options.

It’s hard to find some paper products in stores right now, so it’s a perfect time to explore other options that will save you money and waste fewer resources in the long run.

Save 80 Rolls of Paper Towels a Year

Paper towels

woman using real towels to clean

Replace paper towels with kitchen towels, old towels, or rags you can wash and reuse.

Americans throw away 3,000 tons of paper towels a year that come from 110 million trees. That breaks down to 80 rolls of paper towels a year per person. Think of the trees and the money you’ll save!

Paper napkins

Order dark, wrinkle- resistant cloth napkins that won’t show stains to use several times between washes.  

About 243 million Americans use between one and six packages of paper napkins a month.

Plastic water bottles

person filling reusable water bottle at sink

Buy a reusable bottle and water filter and drink cleaner water for less money with zero waste!

Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles every year. That’s around 13 bottles per month for every person. By using a reusable water bottle, you can save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually, or more if you drink one or more bottles a day. Most bottled water is just tap water that leaches plastic into the water.

Food waste

The average family of four spends $1,500 on uneaten food each year

Freeze food like bread and berries to use as you need them.

Two-thirds of the trash we send to landfills is organic. Right now most of us don’t want to shop at groceries more often than necessary. The further we can make our food go, the fewer times we need to go out to the store or put in an order that can take up to a week for a local store to deliver. Do more with less. Get more food tips in our article “How to Stretch Your Food While Quarantined.”

How are you reducing waste while you’re at home? Let us know and we’ll share on social media!

— Heather Jones and Maria West
Posted on Apr 20, 2020

Summary: Right now we are driving, buying, and throwing away less. While we shelter in place, the Earth is taking a deep breath and healing from our constant activity. The Los Angeles basin’s air quality has never before been so clean for this many days in the decades it’s been measured.