Protecting the environment is a responsibility people of all ages share. From volunteering for organizations that help keep our waterways safe to recycling home and garden waste, we can each take steps to keep the earth healthy for future generations.
In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we highlight seven ways older adults can help protect the environment and encourage loved ones to do the same.
7 Ways to Protect the Environment
1. Reduce your use of Styrofoam and plastic: Today’s hectic lifestyles lead many of us to look for ways to make our fast-paced lives a little easier. Unfortunately, that often means turning to convenience foods and products packaged in plastic.
From fast food packaging to plastic water bottles, we create a lot of waste every day. Organizations like Plastic Oceans and the Earth Day Network have resources that teach you how to reduce plastic pollution.
2. Skip the chemicals: Many people grew up using harsh detergents and chemical-laden yard products not knowing the damage they cause to our environment. Fortunately, you can use a variety of alternatives. Learn more about eco-friendly cleaning products you can buy or make yourself. It can be as simple as mixing white vinegar with baking soda and essential oils.
3. Grow your own: Gardening provides a multitude of mental and physical health benefits. One additional advantage of vegetable gardening is reducing waste and your carbon footprint. It doesn’t take a lot of space either. Container vegetable gardens can fit in the corner of a patio or in a raised bed alongside a garage. You can freeze part of your harvest to use during the winter months.
Shopping your local farmers’ market also helps protect the environment. According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), grocery store products travel an average of 1,500 miles before they get to you. That uses a lot of resources, including fossil fuels.
4. Opt out of mailing lists: Like many households, you probably receive unsolicited ads and catalogs in the mail every day. Much of it ends up unopened in landfills across the country. You can contact companies directly or by email and ask to be removed from the mailing list. Another step is to sign up for the National Do Not Mail List. It will help you get off the numerous mailing lists direct marketing companies use.
5. Maintain your vehicle: Taking care of your vehicle also helps protect the environment. Get your oil changed as recommended by the manufacturer. Don’t top off your gas tank. Drive at a reasonable speed. These are just a few ways to protect your car and the earth.
6. Learn more about recycling: Older adults sometimes have misconceptions about recycling programs. You can recycle much more than bottles and cans. Contact your local government office to learn what you can and can’t recycle. Also explore local nonprofit recycling organizations near you. Many host recycling events all year long.
7. Volunteer your time: Find a local organization dedicated to a mission near to your heart and volunteer. If you live near a lake or river, for example, check out groups working to keep it clean. If you lack transportation, you can likely find a group online. For example, VolunteerMatch maintains a database of virtual volunteer opportunities you could explore.
At Sunrise Senior Living communities, we’re working hard to protect the environment. Several of our communities have earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR certification. We’re committed to improving our efforts every year.
We invite you to schedule a tour at the Sunrise community nearest you to learn more today!