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Any type of gardening is beneficial for the environment and has been proven to be a great way to improve both your mental and physical health. Growing plants and trees is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also reduces carbon dioxide and contributes more oxygen into the air. They also help absorb chemicals and bacteria in the surrounding air and soil.
By growing edible plants, not only will you have consistent access to fresh and healthy produce, but you also reduce support from big agriculture companies, which often practice unethical farming methods. You also avoid contributing to extra pollution from their operation and transportation.
You can even choose to grow flowers that attract pollinators. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and even bats assist plants to reproduce and bear fruit — many of our favorite foods wouldn’t exist without them!
Quick Tip: While it’s totally okay (and sometimes even beneficial) to plant non-native species in your garden, make sure you avoid introducing invasive species that may threaten natural ecosystems in your area! Use this awesome tool to find what plants are native to your area, by zipcode (and go plant one of those babies instead!) NativePlantFinder
Like gardening, composting is a great way to aid the environment’s natural processes. All you have to do is collect organic material such as food scraps, grass cuttings, paper products, etc. in a bin or outdoor heap. Make sure your compost has access to proper light, air, and decomposing organisms (worms!), then patiently wait as it breaks down into nutrient-rich, biodiverse soil.
This process encourages the production of beneficial fungi and bacteria and even reduces the need for chemical fertilizer — your plants will love it! Composting also keeps organic material out of landfills, where it cannot properly break down and instead produces methane, a strong greenhouse gas.
Don’t know where to start, or just intimidated by the idea? Here is a simple guide to get you started with composting: learn and if you really want to get serious, give this incredible composter a try!
- Vegan Cooking
Vegan cooking is very helpful for the environment as it avoids supporting animal agriculture, an industry which is not only famous for animal cruelty, but also plays a large role in producing greenhouse gases and pollution. Livestock production even uses a ton of land, water, and energy that could be allocated for more beneficial purposes.
Plus, it produces the most delicious, nutritious meals, and it’s very meditative!
You don’t have to be fully vegan to enjoy vegan cooking! Reducing your intake of animal products in any way can help. There are so many delicious and creative recipes out there — almost any popular recipe can be veganized these days.
- DIY (Do It Yourself) Projects / Upcycling & Repairing
What better way to give back to the environment than make or improve something with your own bare hands?!?!
Creating your own beauty and cleaning products is a great way to know what is in each product and where it came from, while also avoiding unnecessary packaging and high price tags. There are many great beauty and cleaning product DIYs from face masks and exfoliating lip scrubs, to non-toxic stain removers and kitchen sprays.
Looking to cut down on your single-use plastic consumption? There are many great alternatives that you can also create at home! For instance, you can make soy wax food wraps to replace plastic wrap and reusable shopping bags made from organic cotton macrame or an old t-shirt.
You can even choose to fix up the old and outdated things around your home, rather than throw away and replace them. If you cannot repair that ripped pair of jeans or broken clock, try “upcycling” them instead! Upcycling is essentially creating new from old, so get creative and cut the jeans into a pair of shorts or use the frame of the clock to display some art! You’d be surprised by what a fresh coat of paint can do to an outdated piece of furniture. Not only are you giving these items another chance at life, but you avoid contributing more to landfills.
Wanna upcycle all your old candle bits into one badass, new candle?Admit it, you probably keep several ends of candles around the house — you know, the ones that smelled soo good, but didn’t burn all the way through? Well, you can reuse them! Simply use a fork to break up whatever wax is left in the candle (and if it still doesn’t come out, put the candles in a pot filled with water and boil it slowly, to avoid shattering the glass so it breaks up more easily). Next, buy some bulk wicks and find some old (or new, if you must) candle jars and use double sided tape to glue the wick into the middle of the jar. Then, in an old saucepan, heat up the old wax and once it becomes liquid, you can pour it into the jar (you can use a clothespin to hold the wick in place as you pour in the wax). Allow about 30 minutes to completely harden — and you now have a very cool, and interesting smelling candle!
- Get Outside!
Spending time outdoors is a great way to learn to appreciate nature. There are so many fun activities to do — the opportunities are endless and many require little to no special equipment. Depending on your location, you can partake in hiking, cycling, backpacking, camping, birdwatching, swimming, and other outdoor sports. Engaging in these activities also reduces your carbon footprint, as you’re not participating in other carbon-emitting activities instead.
Quick Tip: When enjoying the great outdoors, don’t forget to be mindful! Simple, responsible acts such as staying on designated trails, carrying out your trash, respecting local fire restrictions, etc. ensure that our favorite spots stay in pristine condition for everyone to enjoy. You can even take the initiative yourself and pick up one piece of trash that you see each time you are outside – and feel damn good doing it, too!
- Diving for Trash / Plogging
Both diving for trash and “plogging”, or picking up litter while jogging, are also great ways to get outside for some exercise while doing your part. Not only does it keep your neighborhood and community beaches looking nice and clean, but it prevents the litter from harming aquatic life.
Quick Tip: If you live near bodies of water where a lot of activity takes place — river rafting, cruises, etc. — you’re more likely to find valuable treasure! That scuba certification might even eventually pay for itself.
- Dumpster Diving
If sorting through trash cans doesn’t bother you, dumpster diving is a wonderful way to help cut down on unnecessary waste. When it comes to big businesses, a lot of their trash consists of unopened or barely used products that are considered “last season” or past their “best by” date. Many of these products are still perfectly usable, but the store can save more time and money by throwing them away, rather than trying to sell them at a discounted price.
By dumpster diving, you can not only save perfectly good products from going straight to the landfill, but also save money that you may have spent on the same products directly from the store. In some cases, you can even sell the products yourself for a profit!
Though dumpster diving is technically federally legal, you should always double check that it doesn’t conflict with any city, county, or state ordinances. Also, don’t forget to follow general safety protocols and be very wary if you choose to consume food products from your dives, as they may have expired or gone bad due to sitting in a hot, dirty dumpster.
Quick Tip: Some stores try to discourage dumpster diving by marking up boxes or throwing paint on products. Don’t let this deter you! They often miss marking up the actual product inside of the box, and even if they don’t, there are many ways to remove the paint.
- Collecting Items for Recycling
Many recyclable items often get thrown in the trash where they end up in landfills or oceans, rather than becoming another product as they were intended. You can help this issue by sorting through public trash cans to collect bottles and cans.
Collecting these items and bringing them to your local recycling facility not only ensures that these items end up in the right spot, but you can also make some money by doing so! Check to see if your state allows container deposits. If so, you might be able to redeem your bottles and cans for up to 10 cents a piece.
Quick Tip: Some companies will even pay for your e-waste! Many electronics contain precious metals that can be repurposed, and also toxic components that we really want to keep from leaking into our water supplies.
Volunteering is one of the easiest ways to give back to the environment. There are so many options, you can find an opportunity to support almost any cause — especially when it comes to conservation and education. From beach clean ups, to helping local farmers, to aiding environmental nonprofits, the options are endless!
Don’t know where to start? Check out VolunteerMatch.org to find opportunities in your area!
Become a conscious consumer! Don’t be afraid to do some research or use ethical shopping guides to help you make informed purchases that are more beneficial to the planet and everyone in it.
Don’t know where to start? Check out BuyChoice! We are a search engine that allows you to search for ethical products based on your own ethical preferences. (Okay, okay we self promoted here. But we are awesome, and we know you’ll love us too!)
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read? Here’s a little summary for ya..)
We want you to start picking up earth-loving hobbies! Not all 10 hobbies will be your jam (okay, dumpster diving can be a little extreme for some people), but we know that one of the hobbies we shared in this list will be perfect for you. And definitely check out the tips under each section, because they will guide you towards a simple action you can take right away to get started — loving on yourself and the planet too!