This year’s Earth Day has a bit of a melancholic flavor, mostly due to the Trump administration’s recent actions, including a ban of the words climate change at the Department of Energy, mass environmental deregulation and a budget proposal that would cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding by 43 percent.
The mere fact that the current head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, who is designated with protecting our planet has filed multiple lawsuits against that same agency says it all. So, if you want to do your part in the Trump era, here are five easy changes that you can make in your day-to-day life to help save the planet.
Reduce the amount of meat and dairy products in your diet
This is hard to hear, I know. No one really talks about it, but animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than cars, trains and planes combined, according to the Independent. Additionally, 91 percent of rainforest deforestation is caused by the animal agriculture industry, for cattle ranching. Essentially, the most important thing you can do for the environment is to stop eating meat and dairy — watch the documentary “Cowspiracy” produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, which is available on Netflix, if you want more information.
Not everybody can go vegan, or change their eating habits overnight. Instead, try eating one meal per day — or per week, to ease yourself into it — that contains alternative protein options: beans, nuts and sofritas are some of my favorites. Another easy step is to replace cow milk with almond, soy or coconut — you soon won’t be able to tell the difference.
Participate in a bike share
If you live on campus, this is easy, and if you don’t, get yourself a Citi Bike membership for $14.95 a month with an annual commitment. While it can be daunting to imagine riding a bike amidst the hectic New York City traffic, it’s not as hard as it looks. Not only will you save money on Ubers, but you’ll know that you’re making your carbon footprint just a little bit smaller. Just don’t forget a helmet.
Buy an extra trash can
The number one thing that stops me from recycling is laziness. I don’t have much motivation to pick through my garbage to sort it into recyclables and trash, so I usually don’t. An easy fix to this problem is going out and buying another garbage can, so that you can sort it before you have to take it out, thus saving you both time and energy.
If you see trash on the ground, pick it up
This one is obvious. There is plenty of garbage littering the streets of New York City, but nobody ever really thinks to pick it up and throw it away. If even one person thought to do so, the city would have a lot less litter — and it might inspire someone else to do the same. You’re also making the city workers’ jobs a lot easier.
Bring canvas bags to the grocery store
Another obvious one, but the plastic or paper you’re saving by doing this is really important. Plastic bags are rarely recycled, and they’re made from petroleum oil — a nonrenewable resource that should be prioritized for other more pressing needs. They also find their way into the ocean, where they can actually kill sea animals. Also, canvas totes are a lot less likely to rip on your way home, which is always a plus.
Email Jordan Reynolds at [email protected]