LifeSmarts focus: what you can do to help the Earth – National Consumers League

By Jacob Markey, LifeSmarts intern

Over the summer, many of you likely paid attention to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst offshore spill in American history. This has been tragic for so many reasons, starting with the loss of lives after the explosion on the oil rig and continuing with the devastating environmental impact along the Gulf coast. In addition, so many people along the Gulf coast now face the loss of jobs and their livelihood due to environmental destruction caused by the oil spill. Even before this tragic event, there has been a growing movement towards cleaner energy. Since the September LifeSmarts topic area focuses on the environment, a discussion about how you can help the Earth is timely.

Some of the big buzzwords you’ve been hearing include “going green” and “reducing your carbon footprint.” To “go green” means to take steps to reduce your environmental impact on the Earth; “reducing your carbon footprint” has a similar meaning. There are many different steps that people can take to go green, such as walking to school or work instead of driving your car, or donating used items you do not use anymore instead of simply throwing them away. You can even find out what your carbon footprint is.

Find other ways to pitch in and do your part:

  • Remember the 3 R’s: Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle. Don’t simply throw out that empty plastic container. Wash it out and find a way to reuse it. If you cannot, remember to place it in the recycling bin instead of the trash can. By reducing the amount of products and things you consume, you will waste less, and reduce your environmental footprint.
  • Find ways to conserve water. WaterUseItWisely has more than 100 ways to conserve water. Suggestions range from simple things like taking quicker showers and turning off the water while brushing your teeth, to more involved actions like saving rainwater to water your garden, and planting shrubs and groundcover that require less watering.

Some teens may be skeptical about whether one person can make a significant impact on the environment. And, true, there is only so much that one person can do. But teens can also encourage other family members to make positive changes to reduce the carbon footprint of the entire whole household. And, collectively, we can make a big difference. By doing even a small part, we can help ensure a cleaner and better Earth.