In the face of global climate change and human overpopulation we have the choice to either continue living by the status quo or take action towards protecting our natural environment. Our world is like our body, we only get one (unless we finally colonize a new planet, to which I want a first class ticket, but even then we’re going to want to treat our new orb better than the last). Most of us are aware of the obvious ways to reduce our ecological footprint – take public transportation, unplug unused electronics, and save some water for the whales while you brush your pearly whites – but I’d like to take this time to help you go above and beyond and achieve full fledged hippie status.
And love him or her by shopping and buying locally. When you do, you’re keeping your money in your community and supporting independent, locally/family-owned operations who typically have your community’s best interest at heart. It’s a happy hippie cycle. Consider attending farmer’s markets and looking for farms who sell directly to consumers, because there are a lot of great reasons to get your food directly from farmers.
If you want to earn a hippie gold star, check out what WWOOF has to offer. In exchange for labor, you can have the opportunity to stay and eat at organic farms around the world while learning your essential farming skills – which will come in handy for what you’re about to do next – BE your own farmer. Growing and hunting your own food is rewarding, not to mention the money from your hunting license goes towards your state’s conservation programs.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a meat fan (sorry veggies and vegans), but I recognize that meat production is one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet. In 2012, the average American consumer ate over 125 pounds of meat and to satisfy that hunger we sacrifice more than just animals. Mass meat production is to blame for massive water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and large scale habitat destruction. I won’t ask fellow meat lovers to go cold turkey from turkey, but our planet will thank you if you let veggies rule for just a day. Don’t forget hippie lesson #1 when you do indulge those meat cravings, though.
This is just a great life goal. For obvious reasons, junk mail is wasteful and a pain in my mailbox. Download the Paper Karma app and feel free to thank me later. With just a photo, the kind tree-huggin’ folk at Paper Karma will cancel said mail. For stubborn junk mail that just won’t quit, see the next hippie lesson (while we’re on the topic of paper, print double sided if you must print).
Having your own compost bin is unexpectedly awesome. I was so excited when my compost transformed from banana peels and twigs to a dirt worm motel that I had to make sure nobody saw me do my compost dance. Having a compost bin helps to redirect your waste and provide a context in which to be more conscious of how much waste you produce. Requiring a 50/50 mix of nitrogen-rich (food scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea leaves) and carbon-rich (newspaper, cardboard, lawn clippings) materials, you’ll find that much of what fills your trash can would be better served in a compost bin. As a result of your fantastic composting, you may find that you are able to schedule fewer garbage pickups and make your wallet, the planet, and your garbage man smile.
If you have already made this easy switch, bravo, novice hippie. You’ve realized that though your water has not been kissed by pristine Alpine glacier angels, it’s free and still tastes like water. You are reducing the amount of plastic litter that has a bad wrap for harming cute wildlife, and you’ve discovered an added bonus: You can bedazzle your Nalgene. Last I checked, people didn’t bedazzle their Aquafinas. To read more, check out The Story of Bottled Water.
With over 7 billion people living today and a rising birth rate, food, water, land and resource demands are getting more difficult to meet. We can achieve an ecologically sustainable population, decreases poverty, and increase our standard of living. If we don’t, the consequences may be less than ideal. We need to stimulate conversations about our runaway population growth and what type of future we want to make for ourselves and the next generations.
Need more inspiration? Use your next Netflix binge constructively and enlighten yourself. Watch some of these documentaries. Now go forth with your bad hippie self. Educate others about your new-found environmentalist attitude and change the world.
How are you reducing your ecological footprint? Let us know!