10 Environmental Habits to Take Up This Earth Week

Sparke, Tim | April 19, 2016 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

Yellow Bike by Guido Gloor Modjib | Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The environment always needs a helping hand and there’s no time like the present. Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today? If you’re looking to achieve a greener lifestyle, here are 10 easy habits to get you on the right path.

Use Your Voting Power

While many of the items on this list will focus on physical changes, you should also use your voting capabilities to stand up for what you believe in. This doesn’t strictly mean international affairs, as there’s always something going on locally. Consider your local council and their current plans. Are they launching new schemes or proposals that have a heavy carbon footprint or other damaging effects? Use your political capabilities to vote against these. If enough people do, that’s one less environmentally-damaging obstacle out of the way.

Buying the Right Food

Similarly, the food you buy has a big impact on the environment. Even when you shop at a supermarket, do you consider where your meat comes from? Brazilian beef, for example, is a well known cause of deforestation in the Amazon, while other foods may involve harmful pesticides and other chemicals. Do your research and ensure you only buy what comes from reliable, sustainable sources, such as organic farmers. Take profits away from harmful businesses and into the hands of those that mean well.

Harnessing Nature

One of the most important changes you can make in your home is to start using natural resources. Specifically, why use tap water when rain water is so readily available. If you have a garden, there are a number of rain water tanks and harvesting devices available. Combine these with a simple pump and you can start using rainwater for a variety of purposes, whether it’s gardening, washing the car or – with a proper filter – showering and drinking. This cuts down on bills, doesn’t rely on artificial reservoirs and is also free of whatever preservatives are in your local water supply.

Grow Your Own Food

On the subject of both water and food, why not grow your own? You’re not going to raise a herd of cows, but even a small garden has room for a vegetable patch. Not only does this go well with rainwater, it allows you to save money and support yourself from your very own garden. Furthermore, you know the produce you grow will be free of pesticides and completely safe to eat. In fact, there are many benefits to growing your own food, not the least of all the emotional reward for providing for yourself!

Launch a Group Project

Collaborative efforts are often more beneficial than singular achievements. When it comes to greener living, the world is already full of examples of people coming together for a common goal. Why not apply this to your neighbourhood? Rainwater harvesting has already been mentioned; why not apply this to a block of flats to make the most of any sky-facing roof space? Similarly, you can use gardens and allotments to grow fresh fruit and vegetables as a community, making the most of all the available land.

Campaigning For Change

Sometimes you have to be the initial voice before people rally behind a banner. There are many things going on that you may want to speak out against, but often do not because there is nobody to offer support. In these instances, isn’t it better be proactive regardless, encouraging others? At the very least, you’ll be spreading a message that wasn’t there before, so don’t be afraid to discuss the things you believe or campaign against things that are harming the environment. You might not change the world, but you will achieve nothing if you do not at least try whenever possible.

Don’t Take No for an Answer

On a very similar note, remember that you always have a right to be informed about what you buy or consume. In other words, don’t take no for an answer when these details aren’t given to you. If you’re dining at a restaurant, for example, don’t order anything until you know where the produce came from. This is a classic example of where you should be able to make a fully informed decision. As such, ensure others understand that your question is crucial, with the answer determining whether you proceed or not. After all, if a company won’t give you these answers, they either do not bother to check themselves or they are aware it is something you’ll likely object to. In any case, you can simply move on.

Get Outside More

If you want to protect nature, it helps to get every opportunity to appreciate it. Take walks in the park and forests; this will help you realise what is so important to protect. It can also help with conservation measures too, especially if you keep an eye on the wildlife. Environmental changes can easily be seen in our natural areas, whether it’s the state of trees or the diminishing numbers of animals themselves. We can tell a lot from this information but only if someone is there to take it in the first place.

Go Car-Free

If you’re looking to reduce your own impact on nature, then going car free is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint. While it’s always useful to have this as a goal, using the car as little as possible is an absolute must. Why drive somewhere when you can walk and don’t need the boot space? Not only will you save money, you’ll also be releasing less harmful emissions as a result. If you need to go somewhere, what’s wrong with public transport? There are only a handful of times where a vehicle is a beneficial method of transport.

Support Local Businesses

Finally – and speaking of carbon footprints – try to avoid international companies, or even companies far away from you. Your local butcher will have locally grown produce, while a nationwide chain will have shipped this in from somewhere. The latter all adds up to a big carbon footprint and spending money here only supports it.

So there you go, 10 habits that you can take up today to start making the world a better place. Many of these have immediate environmental benefits, but they can also help save you money, keep you healthy and otherwise improve your life. Above all else, perhaps, they also offer peace of mind.


Tim Sparke is the CEO at 4pumps and for several years, he has been an active advocate of organic farming and sustainability. He also has a passion for writing and he writes the blog at 4pumps.


MAHB-UTS Blogs are a joint venture between the University of Technology Sydney and the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to joan@mahbonline.org

MAHB Blog: https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/10-environmental-habits/

What should be added to the list? Have you already taken on these habits? We would love to hear about how you have built them into your life and if you have any other planned actions for Earth Day. Please share your plans and add your voice to the discussion below. 

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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • Mike Hanauer

    Where is “have a small family”, Preferably 1 child or less? So disappointed.

    • Definitely! Thanks for adding it to the conversation.

      Do you know of any particular actions going on this week that are focusing on promoting smaller families? It would be great to share them with others interested in getting involved.

  • Sailesh Rao

    Brazilian beef vs. Locally raised beef? As opposed to going vegan? Is that the extent of our environmental erudition in this community? As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said,

    “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating that absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will”.

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective and pointing out that many of the above habits are early steps in much longer processes, which everyone is at different stages of.

      Practicing a vegan lifestyle can be a wonderful way to reduce your burden on the environment and be mindful of animal rights. Many people are intimidated by it, would you mind sharing some of the ways you have incorporated vegan choices into your everyday?

      • Sailesh Rao

        What perplexes me is that the MAHB community ought to be intimidated by animal foods, not the vegan lifestyle, since environmental toxins bio-concentrate up the food chain. 95% of the dioxins in our bodies come from the foods we eat and the top sources are fish, eggs, cheese and meat, in that order.

        The American Dietetic Association has already said that it is unnecessary to eat animal foods of any kind at any stage of our life cycle:
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864/

        There is an exponentially growing community of support for the vegan lifestyle. A good start is to explore http://vegankit.com/. I have been vegan for eight years, ever since I made the environmental connection, and the only regret I have is that I didn’t make the transition sooner.

        • Thanks for sharing those resources and your experience. I think for some the intimidation comes simply due to it being a change from what they are used to and know.

          The Vegan Starter Kit you shared is really wonderful in breaking down a lot the perceived barriers (cost, nutrition, availability, ease, etc.)

          Did you move directly from omnivore to vegan, or did you start with vegetarian? I apologize for probing, just excited to learn from your experience.

          • Sailesh Rao

            No problem. Everyone has their own transition path that works best for them. I was raised a lacto-vegetarian, became an omnivore, then reverted back to lacto-vegetarian, before transitioning to vegan. I wrote about it in the book, “Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of Butterflies”, which you can read at http://www.carbondharma.org .

        • Tim Sparke

          Thank you for sharing your perspective, Sailesh. Undoubtedly, meat production and consumption bring about dramatic environmental effects. Nevertheless, getting meat from your local butcher rather than an international chain store is definitely a better option for those who didn’t decide to turn vegan.

          • Sailesh Rao

            This is not necessarily true, Tim. If the local butcher is selling humanely-raised, grass-fed beef, then its ecological footprint is likely double that for the factory farmed beef the international chain store sells, even including the transportation and refrigeration costs of such intensely farmed beef.

            In either case, whether we are using 60 calories of plant-based input to generate 1 calorie of beef in the intensely farmed case, or 120 calories of plant-based input to generate 1 calorie of beef in the grass-fed case, there is enormous wastage that can be easily eliminated using plant-based alternatives. We can’t keep overlooking such wastage while expecting the general public to take us seriously on the urgency of our environmental crises.