When I tried to come up with some of the best ways that people could help the environment, I started to realize that every single one of these things will not only help the environment, but help our lives in so many other ways. Helping the environment not only saves the planet, but makes us more frugal, makes our lives simpler, helps us get fitter and be happier.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorite ways to help the environment, get fit, save money, simplify life, and become happier.
1. Get outdoors.
Go outside, take a walk through nature, hike through a forest, park or up a mountain. Take a swim in a lake, river or ocean. Explore. Observe wildlife.
Help the environment: The first step in doing something about the environment is getting to know it better. Awareness is crucial. Without knowing what we’re saving, we won’t care much about it. And these days, many of us are so isolated from the outside world that when we hear about the destruction of our environment, it’s an abstract concept. Make nature important to you, and you’ll do something about it.
Save money: Going outside costs very little. It certainly costs less than spending your time at a mall, restaurant, movie theater, or amusement park.
Get fit: This one’s a little obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: Getting outside and walking around is infinitely better for your health than sitting at home watching TV, surfing the Internet, riding in a car, eating at a restaurant. Swimming? Hiking up a mountain? Taking a walk through a park? Doing yard work? All great exercise. Do this for a year, and you’ll be fitter than ever.
Simplify life: Getting outside and communing with nature is much less stressful than the hustle and bustle of traffic, cities, and work places. It will take you away from stress and allow you time to think. It will make your life saner, simpler, less complex.
Become happier: Well, this isn’t a guarantee, but I’ve always found myself happier when I get outside. Watch a sunset with loved ones, have a picnic, go for a hike with your family. These activities are just so much better for you, mentally and otherwise, than the rigors of every-day life, that it would be hard not to be happier after getting outdoors.
2. Commute by bike or walking.
I’m not saying you have to do it every single day (although some people do), but even once a week can add up to saving a lot of fossil fuels and global warming over time. Read more about how biking can save your your health, planet and budget.
Help the environment: You’re using cleaner transportation and wasting fewer resources.
Save money: You use less gas and there’s less wear and tear on your vehicle, meaning reduced maintenance costs. And if you can eliminate one of your vehicles, you can save a ton.
Get fit: This one’s obvious. Walking and cycling are great exercise. Do this two or three times a week, and you’ve got your fitness program all worked out.
Simplify life: It might not seem so at first, but a bike is much simpler than a car. No gas to refill, oil changes, spark plugs, transmission, air filters, or coolant. If you could replace a car with a bike, your life would be much simpler.
Become happier: I can’t guarantee this either, but I think that by helping the environment, living cleaner and healthier, and getting a slimmer waistline, you’d be happier. Try it and see. 🙂
3. Cleanup your community.
Every now and then, you’ll see some community organization cleaning up a park, beach, or road. Join in if you can, or just do one with family and friends. You can even organize your own, getting together a bunch of community groups.
Help the environment: It’s just a small fraction of the environment, but whatever patch of nature you choose to make clean is better off. And so is your community. And it’s more than that. It’s a statement: Our world is a better place when it’s not polluted. It’s a beautiful place worth saving. It’s all we have, and if we waste it, we’re screwed. It’s a statement worth making.
Save money: You save your local government money by freeing up their employees to focus on other community projects. And by attending a cleanup event, you don’t attend more expensive activities, such as shopping or other entertainment. Doing free stuff like this is always better, and the more you work into your schedule, the less you generally spend.
Get fit: Walking, bending over to pick things up – it’s like aerobics, squats, and lunges all put together. That’s a pretty good workout. Do that a few times a week, and you can cancel your gym membership, which also saves money.
Simplify life: It probably doesn’t This is another commitment that you’d add to your schedule, which actually complicates things a bit. But again, if you use a cleanup to replace more complicated and more expensive activities, it can be a simplifier. It all depends on what’s important to you.
Become happier: Volunteering to do good things, I promise you, is a surefire way to be a little happier. You’ll feel good about yourself and doing something meaningful almost always leads to happiness. Plus, you’ll get a sense of community togetherness, which is nothing but good news.
4. Use less energy at home.
There are a ton of ways to do this: Use compact florescent light bulbs Set your thermostat lower (for heating) or higher (for cooling) Insulate Use less hot water Dry clothes using a clothesline Turn appliances off when they’re not in use Get energy efficient appliances, etc.
Help the environment: Using less energy means you contribute less to global warming.
Save money: Using less energy means your power bill is lower and that can be a substantial savings.
Get fit: It doesn’t, unless you’re running around the house more because you turned off all the heating. 🙂
Simplify life: Using less energy is much simpler in the long run.
Become happier: I think this is one of those times when just playing your part to reduce global warming and doing the right thing makes you happier.
5. Buy less, or buy used.
Start reducing the amount of stuff you buy. When you do buy stuff, look to buy it used if possible. Or get it used for free through others in your area who don’t want the item anymore. Yard sales, thrift shops, Craigslist.org, Freecycle.org and friends and family are good ways to do this.
Help the environment: When you buy less stuff, or recycle old stuff by buying or getting it used, you reduce the amount of new stuff that needs to be made, and thus, use fewer resources. The impact of buying less stuff can be huge, if enough people do it.
Save money: This is an obvious one, but let me say that I’m a living example. Do I never buy new stuff? Of course not. But I do resist buying new stuff if I can, and always hesitate before buying. If I can find it used, I always go that route. And over the years, I’ve saved thousands.
Get fit: If you spend less time shopping, you can dedicate that extra time to exercise. In fact, make a daily appointment to exercise today, and make it mandatory!
Simplify life: Your life is greatly simplified if you have less stuff in your life. If you reduce your need for stuff, your life becomes uncluttered.
Become happier: It doesn’t sound obvious, but buying less stuff can make you happier. How? Well, if you equate buying stuff to happiness, you’ll have a hard time seeing this. If you change your mindset so that buying stuff no longer equals happiness, you won’t need stuff in your life to be happy. Learn that happiness stems from being with people you care about, doing activities you enjoy, and appreciating what you have.
What other ways can you help the environment, get fit, save money, simplify life, and become happier? Share your ideas below!