Living with environmentally friendly habits is becoming more and more important to many people, and doing one’s part to change the negative effects of humanity on our environment is a common wish that many have all over the world. Turning off the lights, taking shorter showers, and driving eco-friendly vehicles are no brainers, but there are many other seemingly simple, harmless daily actions that many people take without second thought that impact our environment dramatically. Rethinking all of our daily habits is an important first step in changing the way humans impact the environment, and even surprisingly small actions can make a huge difference!
It’s an unavoidable fact—we all go to the bathroom, and the personal hygiene products associated with the act are necessary to say the least! But many people don’t realize just how significant the impact of these products on our environment really is. Toilet paper made from over 27,000 trees is flushed down toilets worldwide every single day. That adds up to be over 10% of yearly tree harvests!
Unfortunately the companies that manufacture toilet paper products show no signs of responding to their products’ negative impact on the planet. Instead, market pressure will be what changes their strategies—so ecologically minded people will have make their purchases accordingly.
Solutions include using toilet paper with recycled pulp, which can be as comfortable as paper made with freshly harvested pulp, just a little more expensive. The popularization of paper-free cleaning techniques like the bidet, famously common around much of Europe, or high-tech toilets from Japan will also reduce humanity’s reliance on toilet paper.
Throwing away plastics
It is widely understood that landfills are perhaps one of the biggest human-caused threats to our environment, and specifically to the health of our forests. Landfills need space to exist, and the clear-cutting of forests to make room for society’s discarded trash is a common practice all over the world. What many people don’t understand, however, is that not all trash is created equal, and many of the objects in our wastebaskets have an outsized impact on our impact on our world.
Plastics do not biodegrade. While the organic products we throw away, like paper, food, and fabrics will be gone in a relatively short amount of time, plastics will sit in a landfill for far longer than any of us will be on this Earth. This means that landfills full of plastics will take up far more room for far longer, occupying land that could be forests, seeping chemicals into our groundwater, and even ending up in the ocean and harming aquatic animals.
So what can we do? Plastics are everywhere, in many of the products that our modern lives rely on. While completely removing plastics from our society is likely impossible in the near-term, there are good habits we can all incorporate into our lives that can significantly reduce our personal impact. This starts with recycling where available. Even if it takes a little extra effort, recycling your plastic products makes a huge difference. Another good idea is to use refillable water bottles and coffee thermoses rather than their disposable, single-use counterparts that litter the oceans and landfills all over the world. We can also purchase products in bulk and products that use packaging other than plastic—every little bit helps keep our forests and our environment healthy!