Everybody talks about leaving a better planet for future generations. It’s the thought of doing something now that will affect the world decades, if not centuries, into the future that can feel like a daunting and impossible task.

To help us learn easy ways to help the environment, we turned to a good friend of ours who has been incorporating small actions of environmental awareness into his lifestyle. Jeremy Scuderi is a land surveyor who knows a thing or two about the environment. In this post, he shares 15 simple, everyday things we can do to help the environment and change the earth for the better.


jeremy hiking in ithaca

Jeremy hiking at Lucifer Falls, Robert S Treman State Park, Ithaca.

  1. Try to buy glass and recycle. Look into the recycling rules in your city and figure out what everyday items can be recycled. Also, stay away from as much plastic as possible. Even though both glass and plastic are recyclable, producing something like plastic bottles each year releases more greenhouse gas emissions than over a million cars on the road and while recycling, they release toxic chemicals into the surrounding environment.
  2. Instead of plastic, use reusable canvas sandwich bags for lunch, cloth napkins for dinners at home, and canvas bags for groceries. If you think you’ll forget your canvas grocery bag, store it either in your car or near your front door in your line of sight as you’re on your way out. If you have children, use cloth diapers as well. If you do buy paper, plastic, or aluminum, remember to recycle it.
  3. Stop littering. This is common sense but even the most obvious things are forgotten when acting in habit. If you are a smoker, be aware of where you throw your cigarette butts out. Most cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate which is a form of plastic.
  4. Plant a garden. Planting your own garden can supplement buying fruits and vegetables. If you don’t have a yard, take part in a community garden or start a window garden. You can also look into purchasing a rain barrel to water your plants!
  5. Compost your waste foods. The point of composting is to reduce the amount of waste you generate. If you reduce solid waste, you will save space in the municipals landfill, which means you will ultimately save tax money. Either find a local compost site or start a compost system at home for your fruit and vegetable scraps. Composting is great for the land because they are  nutrients for the earth. Remember, you can also use the compost to fertilize your garden too!
  6. Recycle your old electronics. Technology is growing so fast and so is the amount of products we use and throw away. Find a place in your city that recycles your old batteries and electronics. If you have a Best Buy near you, it’s as easy as participating in their technology recycling program.
  7. Use reusable drinking bottles like Nalgene or Klean Kanteen. Plastic water bottles are polluting our oceans and land, and they are causing harm to humans, animals and plants alike. Get yourself a reusable water bottle you can use on the go.
  8. Consume less high fructose corn syrup. Traveling out west and seeing the landscape with nothing but corn to create HFCS makes you realize how much land is being used to make fake sugar. High fructose corn syrup is not only bad for our bodies, but it also requires a lot of fertilizers and pesticides, which is bad for our planet.
  9. Buy local whenever possible. Transporting food from far locations affects the environment as it requires the use of trucks, trains, planes or ships, all of which produce pollutants. The average travel for produce in the US is between 1,300 to 2,000 miles from farmer to consumer. The closer your food is, the less greenhouse gasses will be exhausted into the air and the less harm there is to our health and the planet.
  10. Consider donating things before throwing them out. Too much already ends up in landfills. Many charitable organizations will send a truck to pick up any items you are willing to donate.
  11. When changing the oil for your car, make sure there are no leaks and return spent oil. Your used oil can be recycled into new products, burned for heat, or used in power plants to generate electricity. Check out reclaim sites like Auto Zone, Valvoline or Walmart to return spent oil.
  12. Be mindful of what goes down storm drains. Oil leaks, gas, and lawn fertilizer should not make their way into ground water runoff. This will all eventually flow directly into nearby lakes and rivers.
  13. Avoid buying anything containing aerosols. This includes items like hairspray, deodorant spray and air fresheners. They contribute to air pollution and are bad for the ozone.
  14. Stop buying anything that has microbeads in it. Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic that have no real purpose but make you think a product is special. When they go down drains and end up in lakes and rivers, fish and other animals eat them. As these animals travel up the food chain, we humans will end up being the ones consuming not just the animal product, but also the microbeads we once used.
  15. Enjoy nature and participate in an outdoor hobby. Learning about nature can change your perspective of it. Forage for wild edibles and fish for a dinner once in while. Hiking in the wild will show you how beautiful places can look without pollution. Learning to identify birds, insects or any number of animals or plants will give you a greater appreciation for nature and inspire you to protect it.

About our contributor:

Jeremy Scuderi holds a degree in Land Surveying from SUNY ESF Ranger School, where he studied Land Surveying, Forestry, and Environmental Science. He has worked across the United States in the energy sector and in commercial and residential boundary surveying. Most of his work days are spent outdoors, rain or shine! In his spare time he enjoying hiking in the ADK, foraging mushrooms and wild edibles, and rock climbing.