Early Earth Day 2019: Tips to Change your Lifestyle and live Consciously!

Importance of Recycling; Photograph by Oh Jee Nam

March is a month full of events, festivals, and holidays celebrated all over the world. There are some holidays I’ve been dreading in March and some that I’ve been looking forward to, and one of the events I’ve been looking forward to is Earth Day.

I was maybe 5 years old when I first learned about recycling on a TV show called “Blues Clues”, and at that time, the facts I learned about recycling were pretty basic. We were encouraged to recycle in elementary and middle school, even given incentives like prizes for people that brought items to recycle as a class from time to time.

So how did my generation go from growing up on the notion of saving the environment to thinking caring about the environment is uncool? Well, it probably has to do with the media’s negative portrayal of people who care about the environment as nerds, outcasts, and in some cases, extremists. Yes, there are cases of environmental activists being radical, but caring about the earth and how it is affected by our actions shouldn’t be portrayed as a bad thing. If we don’t make environmentally conscious decisions, we run the risk damaging our home forever, and for a lot of people that risk is not worth the reward—that is, if you consider living an ignorant lifestyle a “reward”.

I’m embarrassed to say that I used to not care about the environment at all and say that because others are doing enough, I don’t need to care as much. Looking back on it, I’m disgusted at my own ignorance, but it was because I wanted to appear as a cool badass rather than already adding to my low social status. I was a depressed loner who was bullied so the last thing I wanted was for people to ostracize me even more if I showed that I cared about the environment. I was already the sad, artsy girl in the corner with a love for volunteer work and activism, the last thing I wanted to be known as was a tree hugger.

10 years later–proud nature lover

And now, here I am, 10 years later, as a proud lover of all things nature. Hiking and exploration became a couple of my biggest passions and I started to connect with nature more than I connected with urbanized places. I fell in love with mountains, deserts, beautiful landscapes, bodies of water, and everything in between. I so badly want to say that my favorite state is California because I dream of becoming an actress, but California is not my favorite state–New Mexico is because of all of the open space and beautiful sceneries the state has to offer. I’d be lying if I told you I preferred living in Dallas, a city more suitable for my career as a glamour model, aspiring actress, and entrepreneur, over living in upstate New York where a lot of their grocery stores support local farms and traveling between state parks and natural sights is easy.

You couldn’t have caught me admitting my love for the earth a few years ago, but here I am proudly proclaiming it to anyone reading this post. Hi, I’m Kal, and I am a nature addict.

I have been moving towards an eco-friendly lifestyle this past year. I realized that since I visit so many natural sights and state parks as well as national parks that I needed to change my lifestyle to truly stand by what I do. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the world as it is. I’m a big believer in living ethically so I have always talked about being ethical in my choices and decided to really live for what I stand by and be more proactive in how my lifestyle affects the world around me.

Think about it—we are taught to keep our living space clean, whether it’s our rooms, houses, apartments, etc., so why shouldn’t we do the same for our environment? We are all living on Earth so it is our home, and we need to take care of the Earth just as we would our own houses or living spaces because if something in the environment went wrong, it just might affect our lifestyles and convenience that we covet.

For example, how would you feel if someone dumped heavy plastic items and trash that you weren’t capable of moving in your shower or room? Of course, you could ask for help with moving these items and try to clean up the trash, but what if no one was available to help you? What if some of the items contained toxic substances that you weren’t aware of? That is the sad reality that a lot of animals face due to littering. Littering doesn’t only affect animals, it affects us too because it means that the rivers that we love to visit for recreational activities like tubing and beaches that we love to sunbathe on are covered in trash. Although some of the photos below are by cardboard waste and “trash”, those photos were a planned concept so I doubt people would want trash in the background of their vacation photos.

It’s easy for us to dismiss climate change as unreal and say that caring about the environment will ultimately not help, but even if you don’t believe in climate change and environmental conservation efforts, you won’t lose anything by doing something good for the world.

Here are a few simple tips and lifestyle changes you can make that will reduce the negative impact your lifestyle might be creating for the environment:

-Reduce the use of single use plastic. Start throwing away your single use plastic utensils and cups and refrain from buying them! Biodegradable cups are readily available in the event that you need some for a party, and you can also use silverware to eat with. 
-Invest in a flask and/or travel mug. There are plenty of options available now so you can get your coffee fix while helping the environment out at the same time! I’m working on getting a travel mug myself because I drink a lot of tea and prefer to drink hot or warm water for my digestive issues.
Use a bidet. In the US, we use millions of trees to meet our annual demand for toilet paper so not only is washing and using a bidet healthier, it is also more environmentally friendly!
Go vegan or reduce your consumption of meat. Livestock consume a lot of water and plants. Livestock farming also occupies a lot of land that could be used to plant trees so veganism is ultimately better for the environment.
Use loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags.
Take your own cloth or enviromentally friendly grocery bags when you go grocery shopping.
DO NOT LITTER! This is so important, even for your own pets! Animals are always curious and can accidentally pick up toxic and harmful materials if you leave trash on the ground! Take the opportunity to save an innocent life and stop littering.
Use a bamboo toothbrush.
Replace as many plastic items as possible with sustainably made items, such as swapping your plastic hairbrush with a wooden brush.
Recycle your clothing and invest in sustainably made clothing items!
Avoid products that contain palm oil. Rainforests are being replaced by palm oil plantations, which is affecting the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as well as taking away the homes of orangutans. There is an app called the “Happy Orangutan App” that you can download and learn more about here that will help you find products free from palm oil. (This is not sponsored)
Move towards a zero waste lifestyle. You don’t have to be 100% zero waste, but you can always move towards having less waste.
Use mason jars as cups and for storage! If you avoid buying grocery items in plastic containers, you can get the ones in glass jars or glass containers instead and after finishing whatever product you have bought, you can wash and reuse them! More bang for your buck

These are just a few tips and examples of how you can change your lifestyle to help the environment a bit. I’m working on following these tips myself and don’t follow all of them just yet, but I’m putting this information here for anyone that may want to use it!

And I know I look different over the years, but change is good. No, my weight loss wasn’t for a good reason, but I have learned to embrace it just as I have learned to embrace my love of nature. Change is possible so keep on moving in the right direction! I have so much hope for the world and want to keep seeing positive changes happen. Happy Earth Day, ya’ll!