Raise your eco-IQ: Four bad habits to kick for Earth Day

Stop being environmentally sucky! From throwing away bottled water to buying overly packaged products, we can do a lot to help the environment out.

Stop! You’re doing it wrong. Okay, maybe you’re doing all right, but you could probably show the planet a little more love. In honor of Earth Day, April 22, ditch these four habits you might not realize wreck the environment.

Wasting food. We know there are starving kids in China, but it’s not just that. Every time you throw away an uneaten meal, you’re not just creating trash, you’re wasting the time and energy it took to raise, grow or process your grub. “That food took resources,” says professor Steve Soltz of College of Southern Nevada’s sustainability committee. “Those animals took water and grain. It took crops, and fuel, to deliver those products.”

Throwing away bottled water. It’s bad enough the bottle won’t be reused, but what’s worse is trashing unconsumed water. At the very least, pour it down the drain so it can be reclaimed. “Water in Las Vegas that goes down the drain ends up in Lake Mead,” Soltz says. “[When trashed], it turns into air and is lost forever.”

Buying overly packaged products. The highly conscious consumer might avoid petroleum-based packaging altogether because its production requires oil drilling, but for the average shopper, increased mindfulness will do. For example, buying shaving cream in a jar rather than a can avoids aerosol pollution and, because it lasts longer, saves money.

Printing paper when there’s a virtual option. If you can manage without printing it, do. Use a smartphone for boarding passes and coupons, enroll in paperless billing and always use print preview to avoid inking unnecessary paper, like that annoying final page that contains only a date.

Las Vegas needs to improve its eco-IQ in general, Soltz says. “There’s not a consciousness here. ... We’re worried about Yucca Mountain but not about what goes in the streets. That can be just as toxic.”

Tags: Opinion
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