(ARA) - As the negative effects of human impact on the environment become more evident, a strong push toward global conservation continues to grow and gather steam. Scores of corporations have committed to becoming more "green" in recent years and countless environment-focused initiatives and organizations have popped up around the world. But even on an individual level, some small changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference in preserving the Earth for future generations.
Though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been encouraging Americans to recycle for decades, a recent study found that less than 34 percent of the nation's waste was recovered or recycled in 2009, while 12 percent was burned at combustion facilities and the remaining 54 percent went to landfills. Recycling and composting saved 82 million tons of material from being dumped or burned in 2009, preserving the country's air and land immensely. To find out more about recycling, composting and how your family can help preserve the environment, visit www.epa.gov/epawaste.
With vehicles constantly emitting harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, it is important to avoid products that put off hazardous components whenever possible. In some situations, this is simply a matter of choosing an environmentally responsible brand over another. For instance, when painting your home, make sure to use a formula with little or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Pratt & Lambert RedSeal Zero paint offers a professional finish in a zero-VOC base (some colors may not be zero-VOC after tinting with conventional colorants). And this eco-friendly paint is available in Pratt & Lambert's full color line, so you can please both your inner designer and environmentalist.
Although plastic bottles are recyclable, more than 80 percent are thrown out, creating more than 1.5 million tons of waste each year. Add this to the fact that tap water costs an estimated .002 cents per gallon while many Americans pay more than $1 per bottle, and bottled water is taking a huge toll on the U.S. landfills and wallets. Purchase a water filter for your home and fill a reusable water bottle from the filtered tap; you'll be saving the environment as well as your bank account, and your taste buds won't know the difference.
People may think they're conserving electricity by turning off appliances when not in use, but televisions, stereos, microwaves and other home electronics are using electricity as long as they are plugged in, even if the power is off. Although it may not seem practical to unplug every appliance after every use, there are ways to avoid this standby power effect. Use "smart" power strips to block energy loss when appliances are off, or determine which devices use the most standby power and unplug those when they're not being used. (Televisions, video and DVD players and stereos are often at the top of the list.)
By making small adjustments to your lifestyle, you can make a lasting impact on the environment and keep the world safe and beautiful for generations to come.