What Can One Person Do? - The Environment

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all of the problems in the world? Does it sometimes seem like that no matter what you try to do, you wouldn’t be able to make a difference?

Well, we’re here to tell you that every single person has the power to change the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re short on time and low on money: if you’ve got a passion for making things better, there are ways to make a significant contribution.

Welcome to Copalana’s What Can One Person Do?

This week, we’re looking at the environment.

What Makes the Environment So Important?

Tackling environmental problems can be quite difficult for two seemingly contradictory reasons: its importance is so obvious, and yet as a primarily urban society, we forget about it for most of the time.

Because of course we need the environment to survive. Without healthy ecosystems both on land and at sea, our entire global food and water supply is at great risk. Without forests and vegetation, we can never hope to avert the impending climate catastrophe, and we put the world in increasing danger of natural disasters. Without nature and clean air, our physical and mental health will suffer.

There are long term knock-on effects to environmental degradation too, like an increase in climate refugees and economic problems from dealing with the effects of frequent disasters.

It may seem hyperbolic to say that if we keep treating the environment this way, civilisation may soon be on the brink of collapse. But it’s not far off the truth. If we don’t correct course and confront these pressing problems head-on, we’re putting the lives – and happiness – of billions of people at risk. Including us.

What Can You Do to Help?

You don’t have to throw away everything you love. You don’t have to make a huge change to your life. You don’t even have to start doing everything that we suggest all at once.

Just make some small adjustments here and there, and one thing at a time. As your momentum grows, so too will your positive impact on the planet. Before you know it, you’ll be saving the environment without even trying.

1. Minimise Fossil Fuels

This should go without saying, but it’s an important first step. The most obvious reduction here is in modes of transport, with electric cars better than their petrol and gas-driven counterparts, public transport even better than cars, and riding a bicycle or walking even better still!

Even within this hierarchy of fossil fuel usage, there are many minor adjustments you can make to your lifestyle to cut down. When travelling, consider slowing it down and going closer to home, by bus or train. Even if a car is an essential part of your life, is it really necessary for every small errand? Get into the habit of cutting down on usage, and soon enough it’ll become second nature.

In fact, anywhere that you can reduce your energy usage, or switch to renewable sources, will make a difference. As a general rule of thumb, if it saves you money on your utility bills over time, it’s probably better for the environment.

2. Find Alternatives to Plastic

Plastic is one of the most harmful products humans have ever invented, but unfortunately so useful that it remains virtually ubiquitous. Some governments have, to their credit, attempted to curtail how much plastic is used, but it’s just not enough.

What many people don’t know, though, is that there are already so many incredible alternatives to plastic already out there! Next time you’re out shopping, see if you can find something less harmful – or if you can’t, just say no to plastic entirely.

3. Eat Less Meat and Dairy

Land clearing for the meat and dairy industry is having devastating effects on the world’s forests, especially in highly sensitive natural reserves such as the Amazon. This loss of natural land, in turn, has profoundly negative effects on biodiversity, water quality, and carbon sequestration, which are concerns not just for local inhabitants but the entire planet. And this is quite apart from the vast amounts of natural resources required to feed and raise livestock in the first place!

You don’t have to cut out meat and dairy entirely, but eating a little bit less – and considering its impact on the planet before buying – does help to reduce the strength of this problematic industry.

4. Reduce Food Waste

Of course, the meat industry isn’t the only food producer that requires large amounts of land to be profitable. Almost everything you eat has some kind of impact on the environment, whether it’s land cleared for growing, water consumption for irrigation, pollution and soil degradation through fertilizers, and use of fossil fuels for processing and transportation.

While we do need to eat, we prepare and process much more food than we actually consume. In fact, if we just reduced the amount of food we wasted (it’s estimated that upwards of 30% of the food supply is wasted, an astonishing 1.3 billion tonnes of food a year) it would have a drastic and instantly positive effect on the environment – as well as on all the people who go hungry every day.

5. Give Sustainably

Eating sustainably isn’t the only daily aspect of our lives that can be examined and changed. We give each other gifts all the time, and it’s a highly enjoyable tradition, but how often do we stop to think about how sustainable it all is? We would never dream of getting rid of this tradition, but there are definitely ways of reducing its waste and eventual impact on the environment, while making it even more meaningful for everyone involved. To get started, don’t miss our easy and practical tips for sustainable gift giving.

6. Try Rewilding

Rewilding isn’t some green fad: it’s genuinely the next step in environmental conservation, where the ecosystem is treated as a whole, rather than just its individual components. If you don’t know anything about rewilding, it can seem like a lot of work. But while it’s true that large-scale projects can take years to come to fruition, doing it in your own backyard is far easier. And aside from being a fun project to take part in and watch grow, it can have a wonderful effect on the local environment, providing a safe haven for all kinds of native species.

7. Make A Contribution

Unfortunately, NPOs that do amazing things to protect and improve the state of the planet still need resources to operate. More often than not, this funding doesn’t come from the government but rather from private donors and corporate partners. One of the most exciting trends to come from the next generation of NPOs, however, is to use crowdfunding to fundraise for individual projects. This makes it easier for them to find microfunding for smaller, specific targets, and better for every donor since they get to transparently see where their money is improving lives, but don’t have to make a large long-term financial commitment.

If you’ve got some spare change, consider helping to crowdfund an environmental project that catches your eye.

8. Join a Community

Joining a community doesn’t just add your efforts to other people’s – it multiplies them. Communities amplify single voices into a chorus of change, providing the resources, exposure, and encouragement to do bigger and better things about the environment. Best of all, the internet has made finding and contributing to an eco-minded community easier than ever. Using your skills and giving your time to a collective effort can achieve incredible results.


Every person on the planet can make a huge difference to the environment. If you’re ready to make yours, sign up to Copalana and start contributing today. And don’t forget: if you’ve got a simple yet powerful tip that can help the environment, let us know in the comments below!

Raphael Shinners
About the author
Raphael Shinners
Every single person has the power to change the world. Here are some simple, everyday things you can do to help the environment.

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