This month at Postconsumers, we’re really helping you to distance yourself from the consumer machine by giving you a hundred things that you can do instead of watch television. In our previous article, we gave you ways to stay away from the televisions screen while also putting good into the world. Today, we’re talking about another way to heal the world – by literally healing it. Sitting in front of the television may feel relaxing – but chances are that it’s actually making you more mentally tired. Doing things that save the planet? That invigorates you. We’ve got fifteen ways you can step, step, step away from the screen and step up to helping the planet.
51. Weatherproof Your Home.
This may sound a lot less sexy and fun than watching television. The truth is that it probably is less sexy and fun than watching television! But it will get you up and away from the screen. More importantly, it will help you conserve energy resources (and save some money while you’re at it). Insulate windows and drafty doors and the energy you’re using to heat or cool your home will stay in your home instead of leaking out or being diluted by air that’s leaking in. Every amount of energy conservation that you do helps reduce emissions and your carbon footprint. Now, we promise that the rest of these ideas will be more fun!
Pro Tip: Not only does a bottom of the door draft catcher help you to insulate your home, it can also be a fun craft project that keeps you out from in front of the television.
52. Set Up a Recycling System.
This one is more fun. If you’re already recycling, we bet that by getting organized you can increase your recycling count by at least ten percent. If you’re not already recycling, turn the television off and go set up your recycling system now. We’re talking bins, people. A bin for aluminum (all kinds), a bin for glass, a bin for paper. You’ll find that quick stacking bins always make you a better recycler.
53. Learn to Compost.
Composting is actually one of the most important things that we can do for the planet. While much of what you send to a landfill may be organic waste, the reality is that it’s often inside of a container or trash bag that keeps it from fulfilling its decomposition value. When you compost, you ensure that organic waste makes its way back to being organic. And these days we need all of the organic matter that we can get our hands on. Research and then set up a compost station. You’ll be doing the planet a favor and you’ll be doing yourself a favor every time you pause the television to take the compost out.
54. Join an Environmental Group.
We’re big on advocating for joining groups and organizations. The sense of commitment and the social activity make it more likely that you’ll not only participate and spend time away from the television but also that you’ll enjoy yourself while doing it. As an added bonus, change is more effective when multiple people are involved. Try using MeetUp or your local community boards to find a chapter of an environmental organization near you. Then contact them and see how you can get involved.
55. Take Your Electronics to a Recycling Destination.
Electronics recycling isn’t typically offered by your local or borough recycling service. It’s a very specialized practice – and with good reason. The reason that recycling electronics is so specialized is the same reason that it’s so important that you participate in electronics recycling. When your electronics make it to the dump, one of two things happens. The first possibility is that the electronics stay in the dump and the toxic elements of the wiring and metal parts make their way into the earth. The second possibility is that they are scavenged and then gutted for copper and parts. This usually takes place in a developing nation at great environmental, health and social cost. Look for a local recycling pick-up in your neck of the woods. Hint: Churches often sponsor them.
Pro Tip: Your old cell phones can actually be donated to help doctors in developing countries at Hope Phones.
56. Set Up Rain Barrel Water Collection.
Firstly, as a disclaimer, only do this if it is legal in your area! In some states, rainwater collection is actually illegal and considered poaching public resources. That may seem crazy, but it may just be a portend of things to come as the global water crisis escalates. Speaking of the global water crisis, you’ll waste less water if you’re more aware of where it comes from and in what quantities. Get outside and set up some rain barrel collection in your yard. Fresh water, no television.
57. Research Meat-Free Recipes.
The carbon footprint of meat is enormous and most Americans eat a diet that’s incredibly meat-heavy. We’re not pushing that you go vegetarian. What you eat is a personal decision. However, the more you can reduce meat from your diet, the more you’re benefiting the planet as a whole. Buy a cookbook (or get online, though we like the idea of keeping you away from screens altogether) and research some delicious and nutritious meat-free recipes.
Pro Tip: Looking for a way to reduce meat without feeling overwhelmed? Try Meatless Mondays.
58. Make Homemade Home and Beauty Products.
The fewer toxins that you support in the world the better off the Earth will be. Take a day in the kitchen to mix your own eco-friendly household cleaners (think baking soda and vinegar) and skin care products. With some quick research on the internet, you can find dozens of recipes. To get you started, we have easy recipes for homemade household cleaners and for home facials.
Pro Tip: Baking Soda is your best friend here! Here’s a list of ways you can use it.
59. Plant Something – Anything.
Plant a flower in a pot. Plant a garden. Plant some herbs or tomatoes that you can grow in your home or apartment in a larger pot. Plant a tree. Go plant something. Anything! It’s good for the planet and it’s good for you.
60. Make a List or Keep an Eco-Journal.
What does this have to do with saving the planet? If you’re not eco-conscious by nature, then integrating green-friendly practices into your life can be a big change. Big changes are always easier to succeed at when you put some organization and structure behind them. We’ve talked before about the benefits of an eco-journal. Whether making a checklist of activities you can do to be more eco-friendly, setting a goal list or keeping a daily journal is your best route, all of them engage your brain, help you be kinder to the Earth and keep you away from the television (no, you may not do this activity with the television on in the background!).
61. Collect Shoes, Crayons and Other Odd Recyclables.
Some things that can be recycled may surprise you. For example, did you know that you can recycle old running shoes (they typically end up as turf in a stadium). Crayons are also recyclable. That aluminum porch furniture sitting in your basement? Recyclable. Read up on some uncommon recyclable goods and spend some time going through your home and finding them.
62. Educate Others.
Education is the most powerful tool with which we can save the planet. Get involved in ways to educate others not just about facts but about low-impact ways that they can help to make things better. Volunteer at a school, work with an advocacy group or just get out and talk. When you share knowledge, you improve the future.
63. Educate Yourself.
It’s not just others who benefit from education. You do, too! Instead of watching television, do something to increase your knowledge about the state of the planet and how to help it. You may want to read up on the Postconsumers website itself! But the number of ways that you can educate yourself about issues of the Earth’s well-being is vast – and we’d like you to get offline anyway. Read a book, attend a lecture or even take a class. Education is power for you as well as for others.
64. Audit Your Home for Wastefulness.
What’s that dripping over there? Do you have phone chargers plugged in even when you’re not using them? Have you switched all of your old light bulbs out for more eco-friendly ones? We’re pretty confident that if you took an hour and walked through your house or apartment you’d find all kinds of “minor” infringements of eco-friendly best-practices. In fact, that constant running of the television in the background is possibly one of them!
65. Send Letters to Your Representatives.
At the end of the day, the greatest power that the people have (outside of their wallets, which can cast a powerful vote) is their ability to influence the politicians they’ve placed in charge. You may be surprised how few letters to a congressman or representatives office it requires before a stance is taken on an issue. We’re certainly not suggesting that you become “that person” who spends all day writing letters, but take an hour a week and make sure that the people in charge know how you feel.
Those are our fifth set of ideas for staying away from the television. Need or want more? Continue on to part six, where we focus on ideas to help you improve your brain.
Did we miss an eco-friendly way to avoid the television that you’d like to share? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.
Photo Credit: James Wang via Flickr