Incremental Change: Lifestyle Shifts Aimed at Improving Indoor, Outdoor Environment

Climate Change

The news about climate change is depressing. It sometimes seems to be such an insurmountable situation that it’s hard to believe a single household could make any significant difference. And, though many Americans have begun living more eco-friendly lives, many still don’t believe the problem is real enough to warrant attention. Others have simply given up hope that change is possible. However, scientists insist that the opposite is true—that positive change is still achievable and that Americans can help improve the situation through simple and easily manageable lifestyle modifications.

Here are some realistic and attainable solutions that can be leveraged to help improve our environment, both indoors and outdoors.

An eco-friendly home

A great many cleaning and personal-care products include ingredients that can be dangerous to humans, animals, and the environment. Some of the products we’ve used all our lives present an imminent threat. Many industrial cleaning products are very damaging to human health and the environment, can cause eye and throat irritation, headaches, and other negative reactions, and may even contribute to cancer. Plug-in room fresheners contain volatile organic compounds and other potentially toxic ingredients. Rather than using these items, consider substituting them with natural ingredients such as baking soda and lemon juice for cleaning agents, and essential oil infusers as room fresheners.


Electric appliances are a major source of energy and environmental waste. Seek out energy-efficient productsthat exhibit the Energy Star label, which indicates greater energy efficiency, or opt for machines that run on natural gas. Also, avoid purchasing appliances that are larger than you actually require.


Half of Americans claim to recycle 75 percent of their recyclable items. It’s a promising sign, but there are many additional ways to help the environment by recycling. Purchasing used furniture, gently used electronics, and even used clothing can have a highly positive environmental impact by reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills every week. Buying used items also reduces your carbon footprint by reducing the amount of newly produced goods that get shipped all over the globe.

Reduce auto exhaust    

Americans have, historically, been very protective of their vehicles and the way they use them. That’s a problem, because the United States is the single-greatest carbon polluter on the planet. Driving smarter—and less often—could do a lot in reducing the carbon dioxide emissions American drivers produce every single day. There are many ways to cut CO2 emissions. Drive shorter distances, bicycle or walk to nearby destinations instead of driving (a great way to stay in shape), take public transportation, and cease idling when waiting in a drive-through or a school pick-up queue. Opting for eco-friendly vehicles is another excellent way to initiate change. Some of the best electric or hybrid models can travel nearly 90 miles per gallon equivalent on a single battery charge.

Ban bottling

Americans drink a staggering amount of bottled water. From a health and hydration standpoint, that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, 17 million barrels of oil are consumed every year in the production of water bottles, generating an incredible amount of non-biodegradable plastic that presents a major threat to wildlife and the environment. A million plastic bottles are bought globally every minute. Instead, buy a personal, reusable water bottle you can easily carry with you.

Most of the changes that can improve both indoor and outdoor environments are easy to incorporate into your lifestyle. The key is to practice them every day—not just when it occurs to you. Lasting change depends on changing personal habits.