3 Things I’ve Been Doing This Year to Benefit the Environment

In early 2016, I received a work assignment from a client. It was an article on how experts could better simplify environmental science to reach climate change deniers. Up until this point in my adult life, I had no idea that there were people anywhere in the world who believed climate change was debatable or not real. At first, I thought, surely the client must have made a mistake.

I started to research the percentage of Americans who denied the legitimacy of climate change. I remember staring at the number for a few minutes, trying to fathom the possibilities of how nearly 40% of people in a country that prided itself on having a stellar education system believed climate change is fake news.

A more recent estimate from Yale shows improvements at 69% of Americans believing in climate change. The Yale study also identified these as the most likely climate change believers:

  • Liberal, moderate and conservative Democrats
  • People with a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Millennials and Gen Zs between the ages of 18 to 34
  • Suburban folks

In Jamaica, climate change is not a debatable topic. Despite being a measly little Sh!t Hole country, Jamaica’s approach to environmental preservation makes me proud. We’re not perfect, but the government has always had a strong green living focus.

From trying to ban smoking in public to successfully banning plastic bags and styrofoam cups, Jamaica is light years ahead of many other countries for just that alone. Here are three simple commitments I made this year to serve the environment.

1. No Plastic Bags

When I learned that the ban on plastic bans had gone into effect in Jamaica, I resolved to maintain that same ban in my household. I started to work my way through the plastic bags we already had by using them to dispose of Shadow’s poo. Unfortunately, I’ll always need bags for this, but I do purchase tiny ones for this purpose.

I also bought reusable shopping bags online. My parents have had these for years, as we love to shop at Aldi’s. But, I never had any of my own. Mom offered to share her own collection, but I wanted to have my own. I keep them in the trunk of my car. It took me months to remember to say, “No bags, please!” when I got to the cashier, but I’m a pro at it now.

I’m also a pro at ignoring the looks of utter bewilderment at the store when I turn down a bag or push out a cart full of bagless groceries because I left the bags in the car. I remember the first day I visited Joshua Tree. I stopped by the Dollar Store. When the woman said, “Do you want a bag?” I already knew I had found home. They never ask me in Atlanta.

2. More eBooks

One of the biggest problems I always have when moving is the question of what to do with my books. Like any bookworm, I hoard these things. When I gave up my apartment in Jamaica, I had to give them all away. Well, guess what? I now have two full bookcases. I can’t seem to help myself. Why not buy a book if it’s $1 and the cover matches the crimson and black decor in the bedroom? 😭

I have been better at resisting lately. Not only have I stopped buying paperbacks and hardcovers, but I also started selling and giving them away. I now read most of my books via my Kindles and my phone. I had been reading on devices for years anyway, so this isn’t nearly as bad as more old-fashioned book readers might think.

To ensure I’m never short of options, I have a Kindle Unlimited membership for $9.99 per month and I have a membership at the local library. That library membership gives me access to RB Digital, which is a collection of free audiobooks and eBooks.

3. Work From Home

As most of you know by now, I work from home. My business pays all my bills, funds my trips, and leaves me a little something to save. By American standards, I make a lower-middle-class salary, but that’s all I need. Sh!t-Hole-Country immigrants have a knack for living on less because, well … you know.

Working from home also means I rarely need to drive my car. I own a little hatchback that gets me as high as 37 miles to the gallon without turning on its ECO mode. It takes only $20 to fill it up and I probably drive it twice per week. This lowers my fossil fuel consumption, and thus, my carbon footprint.

In Jamaica, we learn about climate change and general environmental science from as early as third or fourth grade. It gets grouped into our social studies, geography, and general knowledge classes. We cover these topics again in high school. It is never taught as a debatable topic and we accept it as scientific fact. 

I’ve said this before a thousand times and I will say it again. There is a state and town and county for everyone in America. California and I stand heart to heart on matters related to environmentalism. This was one of the big reasons California made it onto my radar this year. It’s also the only state in the Blue Sunbelt that would allow me to build, buy and/or live in a tiny home.

I can’t wait to start that adventure next year. To the ladies and one gentleman I have reached out to throughout this year with questions — you know yourselves! — thank you so much for your inspiration, your knowledge, and the role you played in my decision to take my butt out to the desert for good. 

To everyone else, what have you guys done lately to help out Mother Nature before she boots us all off the planet with an asteroid the size of China?

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58 thoughts on “3 Things I’ve Been Doing This Year to Benefit the Environment

  1. Great stuff, Alexis. I’ve been environmentally conscious from a young age. My parents used to laugh at me when I tried to get them to start recycling in the 90s but now everyone is doing it.

    We’ve cut back massively on plastic this year. I now go to a roadside greengrocer stall once a week to get all our fruit and vegetables because our supermarkets don’t sell loose/by the weight. I always make sure I have bags in the car so they can’t be forgotten.

    I was aware that as much as 40% of people think climate change is a myth. I’m in a few climate change groups on Facebook and have tried to talk to family members and friends of friends about it. You rightly point out that it’s politically motivated and strongly related to education level too. My master’s degree is in archaeology, and part of that was environmental archaeology, being in a unique position to look at the changes humans made in the past even with simple alterations to an ecology.

    People are coming around but not nearly fast enough.

    1. I should have known you would be this involved in preserving the environment. I’m proud of you! I’ve been environmentally conscious since a young age as well, mostly prompted by hating to see litter and loving animals. I also hated meat. It wasn’t until around 8th grade though that there was any philosophy behind it.

      We finally dug deeper into climate change and how farm animals were raised and that was the final straw for me. I was really confused by how other students walked away from that class and still ate so much meat, littered …. They believed, but they didn’t think it was their responsibility to do anything about it.

      We covered environmental science several times again through grade school, college and university. These were all mandatory classes. I’m really grateful for that. Too many children don’t get that level of exposure in the U.S. I’m assuming you guys are more similar to us in the UK as our system is based on yours anyway.

      Here’s to hoping more people come to their senses, soon!

      1. I was at school in the 80s, we did a bit about global warming but more about the hole in the ozone layer.

        I educated myself on climate change at university. Finally presented with a chance to access thousands of academic papers on the subject, I spent some of my spare time reading the data with a limited 1st year undergraduate’s brain.

        Sadly, our schooling system teaches kids what to think, not how to think. We need an overhaul, especially after Thursday

      2. That’s true now that you mentioned that. There was definitely ba lot of talk about that hole. Not so much anymore.

        What did I miss in Thursday??

      3. I think the hole isn’t so much of an issue any more since banning CFCs. A whole lot of shit happened on Thursday. The short answer is I’m not living in the country I thought I was. I will email you or otherwise send a PM because I’m in no mood for any randomers picking a fight right now

      4. I think the hole isn’t so much of an issue any more since banning CFCs.

        A whole lot of shit happened on Thursday. The short answer is I’m not living in the country I thought I was. I will email you or otherwise send a PM because I’m in no mood for any randomers picking a fight right now

  2. interesting facts you found on climate change.
    articles i have read about recycling is in the USA there are not enough recycling facilities and the current ones are over taxed with material. countries outside the USA where materials were being sent, have started to refuse for many reasons. companies are not willing to use recycled materials in the production of their products as virgin material is cheaper!
    i also have read that anything we do on a personal level about climate change/recycling is basically voided by the general manufacturing companies. but i feel anything one can do on a personal level is better than nothing and must have some small impact and if more did it, the impact would be greater.

    1. I’ve heard this about recycling companies, always from Californians, haha. I heard China especially had stopped taking our recycled materials, partially because of the current disputes. Not sure how true that is.

      There are 327 million people thereabouts in America. If even half of us made small changes to our lifestyle, we’d all be better off. When I did environmental science in college, we learned that one of the biggest consumers and polluters were first worlders. I believe the numbers were 80% of the pollution, while being only 20% of the population. But Europe is LIGHT-YEARS ahead of the U.S. on climate change initiatives, so America will get the fingers pointed at it for some time.

      China, of course, is a case to itself. Like you said, manufacturing! Ultimately, consumers have to ask ourselves if we’re okay with cheaper prices for bad environments or good environmental changes at higher prices. We might not be able to have both for some time to come.

      1. I believe if customers put pressure on companies and boycott their products, producers will change their ways. I’ve seen it here, supermarkets stopping giving out plastic bags, introducing reusable bags and refillable containers instead: that will make a massive positive impact on the environment. We can’t afford to be cynical about this: customers demand, or lack of, makes a difference, it always has: demand and supply!

      2. In all honesty, I see Californians doing this. I have no such expectations of Southeasterns. Climate change is fake news, remember? I will never forget when Florida had a hurricane warning a few years ago and my friend’s dad refused to evacuate because he said hurricanes are fake news and a liberal conspiracy.

    1. You wouldn’t believe how many places I called. California is considered THE tiny house pioneer state at the state level, but at the local level, some towns are still saying heck no. I emailed almost every planning and zoning department from San Diego County up to Los Angeles County before settling on the Joshua Tree area.

      Then, some allow tiny homes, but it has to be on a foundation. Some require a 2-car garage. Even the RV parks have rules about the kind of tiny homes on wheels they will take. Skoolies, for instance, often get banned from some parks.

      1. Agreed! I figured what I’ll do is use the garage for laundry and to store off-season clothes. I’ll keep one parking spot though. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone park their car outdoors in that boiling heat long-term!

  3. We recycle all we are allowed to in our city at our curb and we recycle other things elsewhere. Plastic bags still manage to get into our house but the grocery store recycled them.
    We planted a garden of bushes that should attract bees and butterflies that requires less water.

    1. Good on you!!

      Your city allows you to recycle things by leaving them on the curb? Atlanta would never! Or, do you mean you have the recycle bins? I should really try to find if Atlanta has a recycle center. You know, the south isn’t too keen on these things.

      1. Yes! We have a big green bin we put out on the curb once a week!!

        The grocery store has a receptacle to put plastic bags.

        When living in Cambridge England, they recycled everything… even food scraps!!

  4. Wonderful ideas and reminders! I use my own fabric shopping bags more often (I’m getting there:), have totally quit eating meat, and take things to the recycling center that I could probably sneak into my trash bag at the apartment building.

    1. I really need to figure out where my recycle center is! I’ve heard Best Buy takes electronics and will have to look into that. My old job had recycle bins I could use, but I quit that job last year.

      I’m a pesco! Wish I could go vegan, but my body isn’t having it. I get sick every time. Two doctors have told me not to forget it. 😅

      Thanks for reading and joining in!

      1. I’ve still been eating mainly vegetarian and haven’t given up eggs, yet. I saw mention of “veggans” on the internet today, and I guess that fits me. Partly I really like eggs and also I’m apt to gain weight if I eat too many legumes, I’ve found.

      2. My problem is I’m a little allergic to soy. It’s not actual allergies, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I can eat it, but if I base my diet on it, I end up with a deficiency. It got REALLY bad in college. I was having pass-out levels anaemia. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Years later, I found an article that said soy actually blocks the absorption of B12 and it all made sense. Soy is a big part of vegetarian diets, so that’s an issue.

        I haven’t had any problem with legumes so far. I’m sure regular soy beans would be just fine too. It’s just when they’re processed!

        I gave up eggs for years. I’m not sure why I started eating them again. I think I started in college. It may have been during that deficiency fiasco.

      3. I stay away from too much soy because of possible links with breast cancer. Course, they don’t know for sure, and opinions on this keep changing! I hadn’t heard that about the absorption issues; thanks for that info.

      4. Oh wow! I didn’t know about that. I think I had heard some talk about cancer, but not specifically breast cancer.

  5. Wonderful to hear about Jamaica being so forward in education and awareness of the climate change and what we all can try to do about it. This post went straight to my heart – thank you for posting positive thinking! And good luck!

    1. Aw, thank you, Leya! We do what we can over there. Jamaicans certainly have a lot of cleaning up to do in our behaviours when it comes to green living, but it’s not from ignorance. We do know better! Some people are just downright lazy. Still, I love that our government isn’t leaving this up to private citizens to figure out. They’re leading the way!

      Wishing you all the best. May our leaders here in America take a better stance on these issues in the near future. 🙂

      1. I agree – and that goes for the leaders almost everywhere – things can be improved, and have to if we are going to survive.

      2. The problem is that we’re going to survive anyway. It’s another generation that will suffer the most, so a lot of people are treating it exactly as such. I wonder when they’ll realise that we’re already feeling the effects.

      3. True. But I was thinking of mankind as a whole. Ever since I was a child I have been convinced that the world will only survive without us.

  6. Great post Alexis. We have not flown now for over 25 years, we have fold up reusable bags in practically every pocket of jackets and coats so we always have one to hand, re recycle paper, glass, cans, cardboard, some plastics, and compost whatever we can, we do not use a clothes dryer but air dry instead. We just have to persuade everyone to do whatever they can!

    1. Thank you! In Jamaica, I think everybody air dries. Where I live in America, I’m sure they would put us out of the suburbs for such a thing! 😅

      I’m glad to know you guys are playing your part. I hope more people start to get on board!

  7. Good on you, Alexis. I do all those three things too and have done so for years. I also buy ethical and environmentally friendly products whenever I can. I was interested to hear that Jamaica is an environmentally aware country and educates its citizens accordingly. That’s wonderful and something many more of us could emulate.

    1. I’m glad to hear it, Norah! I’ve been environmentally conscious for years. I don’t chicken, beef, pork etc because the meat industry is terrible for the environment. I cut that all out in about 8th grade.

      I also use solar energy for charging and my outdoor lights, but those are all old things. None of those happened this year. I think while those were little steps along the way, this year was when I really felt motivated to be more intentional about my role in protecting the environment.

      Thanks for sharing!

      1. I’m not so good on all those additional things you mention, Alexis. But I think we have to start in small steps and quicken our pace when we’re ready. You’re doing well. Thank you for being a custodian of our environment.

      2. We can’t do everything! We just have to do what we can, each of us. 🙂

      3. Littering is EXACTLY what I was hinting at. What drives me insane is that those same people then get up and complain when the drains get blocked and the roads flood. Oh, the government needs to fix it? Hello? Don’t throw things on the streets and in the gutter. 🙄

  8. Good on you! I also have a hatred for plastic and have been using my own bags for many years. With regards to the dog waste bags, there are biodegradable ones available in shops, they cost a little more, but the planet is worth it.

    Living in a motorhome, we save a lot on heating and water use. I can’t remember the last time I had a bath, preferring quick showers any day.

    Do you have recycling facilities too for glass, paper, aluminium cans and plastic bottles and containers? Some supermarkets even take in old plastic carriers bags for recycling.

    Another thing I do is refuse to buy fruit and vegs which are wrapped in plastic. This practice infuriates me to the core, as there is no need for it whatsoever! More and more shops are introducing ‘bring your own container’ scheme to refill various food, like cereals, nuts, etc.

    Every step helps, however small. Keep up the good work! 👍

    1. I knew I could count on your for some valuable input!

      I’m glad I got on the no plastic bag road. After publishing the article, it struck me that maybe paper poo bags existed and they do! I saw the biodegradable ones as well. I have a few of them in my wishlist to use when I finish up this current set of bags I already have.

      You forgot to mention your solar! You guys lower your carbon footprint there too. I can’t wait to get on the solar train. I plan to get some solar lights that operate independently. I have some outside my home for outdoor lighting, but I installed those years ago with my brother-in-law’s help. You can get indoor ones too, but I need better lighting like I’ll get from RV windows to use that. I’ve tried!

      Recycling is a controversial issue here at present. There’s some talk that China is no longer taking our recycled material, so it’s all going to the landfill. I don’t know if it’s true. I hope it’s not. ATL isn’t big on recycling, but California is. It’s way easier to do it out there and I did while I was there. Here, we don’t have the bin. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone with them here but I’m sure they exist because I sometimes see recycle bins at parks. Maybe it depends on the garbage company we choose.

      I don’t use the baggies for vegetables either. I take the ones that aren’t packaged and throw them in the basket as is.

      And, thank you! Keep doing your part as well 🙂

      1. Wow! I’m surprised at the lack of recycling facilities in Atlanta: here, they are mandatory and every household has recycling bins outside provided free by the local Councils, some also have garden waste bins, but at an extra cost. In Germany you’ll get a fine if you don’t! Not sure I buy the excuse about Chìna, though. Why not process materials there and create jobs? Or there must be other countries that take it. China can’t be the only one.
        Also forgot to mention LED lights: been using them for years. My husband cycles to work and I only use car when absolutely necessary. There is so much we can do individually! If we all do our bit, there might be hope for the planet yet. 🙂

      2. I’m not surprised. This is the South, Fatima! 😂 It’s also possible that some are around here, if you know where to look. I think you can buy the bins, but mom never got one. I remember asking her why not when we just got the house and she said they were expensive or something along that line. I guess it takes more work to get rid of those? I’m not sure.

        Europe has more sense when it comes to these things. America is young. Maybe in another hundred years or so, it will look back at these climate-change-is-fake-news days and wonder what it was thinking.

        The lights in the RV are LED! So are the ones in my home. I think most homes even in Jamaica use LEDs. Cheaper energy bills!

        By the way, did I send you the 360 tour for the RV? If not, here it is: https://www.keystonerv.com/travel-trailers/bullet/floorplans/287qbswe-travel-trailer/

      3. Not sure we’ll be around in 200 years!
        Thank you for link, but I’m afraid it doesn’t work. I’ll try and find it by usual search. 😉

      4. Strange! Could it be the location difference? I went to look at them yesterday and fell in love! Look up the Keystone Outback Ultra-Lite 301UBH

      5. Hey, check the comment from Buddy under here! I tried to tag you, but can’t figure out how. He mentioned what I was saying about our recycling facilities here. I keep hearing this from people in California. If anyone would know though, it’s them!

  9. Similar to you, I’ve been bringing my reusable tote bag(s) everywhere, more by force due to the plastic ban in Jamaica, but still a change I’m happy to embrace. Also since I started working and living on my own, I’ve been embracing the minimalist lifestyle, spending more on experiences and not things. I live in a furnished place too so I’ve scarcely bought a thing. I like to think that that’s helping Mother Earth. Western society consumes too much!

    1. I’m suffering with you by choice! Did they ban straws too? Up here, a lot of establishments now have the paper straws and I’m really happy about that. It’s really sad that climate change has become a private citizen issue when we have a government as powerful as America that could not just step in but LEAD the change. Smh. Maybe the next President!

      When I move out west, my home will be fully furnished but technically I’m buying everything in it lol. 99% sure I’ll end up buying a home on wheels and they come furnished. Stay tuned!

      1. They did. These paper straws don’t hold up so well though and I haven’t made it a habit yet to take my reusable bamboo straw everywhere. And indeed, I hope the next president believes facts. 😒😒 I can’t wait till you get your new home. I’m demanding pictures and a blog post about it.

      2. The paper straws here aren’t bad. They feel more like cardboard. I should look up bamboo ones to take around as some places are still handing out plastic straws like iddi-boos!

        Definitely planning to do photos and blog posts about living in a tiny home on wheels when the time comes. Might even do a video tour. Fingers crossed! I’m planning to go check out a specific model on Tuesday. 🙂

        Here’s the 360 tour from the website: https://www.keystonerv.com/travel-trailers/bullet/floorplans/287qbswe-travel-trailer/

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