Some everyday ways: re-use and recycle more, start composting, turn out lights and unplug appliances when you are not using them, and try to drive less or carpool more.
Well, one really easy way to help is to recycle. Try to use less plastic and paper altogether. Examples would be using a water filter instead of buying bottled water. Try to print out less stuff. Take your own bags to the grocery store for your groceries to avoid using more paper and plastic at the store.
On a larger scale, Americans should be looking at sustainable ways of living, like investing in electric transportation and solar/geothermal energy. Geothermal heat pumps are a very efficient way to heat and cool your home using the environment.
Lastly, you can donate money to conservation efforts, like Conservation International or National Parks Conservation Association and many many more.
Elifitz and sfincher both provide very good suggestions. Another one is to be very conscious of the food that we are all eating. In general, Americans are very unhealthy and eat a lot of meat and processed foods, both of which have a huge water and carbon footprint. If we cut out processed foods altogether and ate only whole foods that would produce less waste, increase health and reduce the water and carbon footprint. Eating less meat has also been associated with reducing water use.
Sfincher’s, elifitz’s. and mercurycommunication’s answers are all terrific. But if I could encapsulate an answer to your question in a single, sustainable theory or philosophy, it would simply be this: Americans would do most for the environment if we readjusted our meaning of ‘The American Dream’, or success, or ‘The Good Life’ to something that is much more local,communal, and independent of super-centralized markets and institutions. Humans are, in general, in much greater equilibrium with our habitats and ecosystems when our living is confined to a particular, albeit very diverse place.
I think one word could describe my basic belief: conservation. Conserving and living within our means, and living within nature’s means will help the world come back to equilibrium. Humans and animals were meant and used to be able to live near each other without the delicate balance of nature being disrupted. Now, with humans pushing the Earth past its limit, then that seems impossible. If people were to all make a point to live simpler and conserve more in their lives, then we will be able to reach that balance again.
Making the move towards organic eating, especially organic meat and dairy. Farmers that raise animals in an ethical manner make a big difference in the environment. The Farmers that use these methods use smaller amounts of manure to fertilize soil naturally, thus not producing an excess of manure that can lead to E. Coli and other pathogens. Hog farms in North Carolina for example produce 10 million metric tons of waste annually. Another reason it is important to buy organic is by doing so you as a consumer are casting a vote for what you want to buy. Stores pay attention to what consumers are buying and by supporting farmers that use sustainable practices, you can support people that are working hard to treat America’s environment and animals right.
Education. Americans need to learn the facts and reasons why we need to change our lifestyle. Being informative on the issues lets Americans decide if and how they can take part in the eco cause. Educators, political figures, pop culture icons and social media play an important role in getting the word out and inspiring change.
Environmentalism needs to be imbedded not as a counterculture or a movement, but as a fundamental value of our society. Voters and politicians need to make at an issue in elections, and lawmakers need to put more stringent regulations and generous subsidies in place. We need to get over the appeal of the anti-scientific ethos, and adjust our education system and beliefs as such, and then we need to develop technologies and infrastructures that make a country-wide sustainable lifestyle possible.
I concur with julsmarie14: education is integral in establishing a population of Americans who are genuinely concerned about the environment, and attendant with that awareness, actually know how to act upon it. Small actions can yield huge results, such as municipal recycling and using food/power/water resources as judiciously as possible.
Unfortunately, a 2011 Gallup poll reveals that Americans prioritize the economy and policies to stabilize it over environmental issues that may hinder economic growth. Perhaps that is a consequence of the recession, but there’s no denying that mentality is alarming and does not bode well for the future of environmentalism in America.
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