Our Hot Mess: Seven creative ways to change the world

I could spew out the words “carpool,” “recycle,” and “take shorter showers” as many times as I want, but let’s be honest: They’ve been so overused that they run right over our heads to be regurgitated at the next environmental anything. That is why I bring you this installment of Our Hot Mess, to redefine how we think about helping the planet in our daily actions through creative ways of energy and resource saving.

  1. Check out expiration dates!

This resource- and money-saving tip will help the environment and your wallet. Before you throw
away a food item because the “use by” date was yesterday, keep in mind that these dates are
merely for the product’s quality, not safety. So that loaf of bread or bag of carrots may have a
longer shelf life than you thought, and those leftovers are so worth saving. You’ll save a little extra
land from being topped with waste on our planet. On a side note, if your food items are in fact bad,
compost them! It’s easy!

  1. Go naked!

Not what you think. No, I’m talking about packaging. The easiest way to reduce our
waste is through not purchasing items with lots of packaging, so… go naked! Buy in bulk with as
little packaging as possible. And if there is packaging, check to see if it was made through
recycled materials and try to steer clear of those that weren’t.

  1. Forego the forks!

This primarily pertains to takeout, but this could also be applicable to certain restaurants. Specify
that you won’t be needing silverware, napkins, condiments, or straws with your order, and save all
of those plastics. Did you know plastic was made from oil? Oil is a fossil fuel, and fossil fuels
were created from organisms that lived 300 million years ago. And all fossil fuels are
nonrenewable resources that are beyond environmentally unfriendly to extract and burn. We can
help by saying no to those extra forks n knives n straws.

  1. Eat less meat!

Yes I know this is a tired topic in the OHM realm now, but this is also one of the easiest, most
efficient ways to help the environment. You don’t need to grow your own botanical garden; you
don’t need to sit on steps in Washington, DC, protesting; and you certainly don’t need to
completely change your eating habits. It’s easier than that. All I ask is that you consider eating
fewer animal products. The animal agriculture industry is remarkably resource intensive and
produces plenty of waste and greenhouse gases that can be reduced if you simply save a
“Bessie” or two. So I challenge you to keep track of your meat intake and try to reduce it through
meatless Monday challenges or having meat only twice a week. Try replacing your dairy milk with
almond milk! For more animal-less meal ideas and replacements, check out this website.

  1. Opt outside!

Want to become a more interesting, healthy, environmentally-friendly person? Well have I got the
solution for you. Go outside and stop using so much electricity. Seriously. The amazing, beautiful,
surprising, aweing world is ready to welcome you if you would just put on shoes and
leave the phone behind. And before you leave, be sure to unplug because even when powered off,
appliances use energy. Surprising indeed.

  1. Pretend you’re an NBA player!

Now what on earth could I mean by this? I am referring to the star basketball player in all of us.
Yes, we all dream of getting that perfect shot with nothing but net and the satisfying swoosh. Only,
replace the “nothing but net” with “nothing but container” and the “swoosh” with “clink.” That’s
right. I’m talking about those cool recycling bins surrounding us all day long, those bins that make
the perfect hoops for recyclables. So practice your free throws and help the environment.

  1. Think!

Yeah this one is pretty simple. We just need to think about our activities. Is someone else going to
this event whom I could get a ride with? Do I actually need to flush the toilet? When my brothers
and I were little, the bathroom mantra was “If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.”
Not the coolest phrase, but we saved thousands of gallons of water! Can I make my errands
systematic by getting them done around the same area? Do I really need to turn on this light to get
what I need? How long have I really been in the shower? Can I bake multiple items in the oven at
once? Asking yourself these simple questions and being consciously aware of your potentially
eco-unfriendly habits will do wonders.

Well, that’s all, folks. I hope you consider applying these cool and creative thoughts and motions to your lives!

And remember, don’t be trashy.

--Elke Arnesen, LSNews.org Columnist

Edited: BP

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