I'll give you a place to begin with a Top Five list of things to do (or not do) that can reduce the footprint we leave on the planet:
1) Consume less - this is especially true in America, where each person consumes many more resources than they should. We can easily and safely use less water, less gasoline, less electricity and we can buy less. These are simple changes in our daily habits that both save us money and benefit the environment.
2) Reduce our waste - We have become a disposable society, where eating one fast food meal produces paper bags, napkins, wrappers, straws, cups, etc., all for one meal. Eating out once per week instead of three times, for example, reduces such waste by 2/3. Much of what we throw away can be recycled or composted.
3) Practice the saying "I don't need a bag for that". The tendency to put every single purchase, no matter how small, in a plastic bag is both unnecessary and wasteful. We don't have to be complicit by carrying them out of the store.
4) Companies can invest in energy conservation. Sensors that turn off lights when there is no movement in a room, public bathrooms that minimize water usage, insulation and solar panels all can be green friendly ways a large company can both make a difference and set an example.
5) Cut down on packaging use - Companies can request that the items they are sold not come in heavy duty plastic packaging, that, while saving a little money in product loss/shoplifting, costs quite a bit and greatly increases the amount of waste that comes with sales. We used to get by with much less, and can do so again.
What we describe as environmental pollution is a direct result of the human activities which affect the environment more than the activities of any other species of living being. This overwhelming impact of humans on the environment is because of the very large human population and the very high standards of living achieved by human beings. Thus environmental pollution is directly linked to the size of human population and the levels of standards of living achieved by them.
Thus one obvious way to reduce environmental pollution is to limit the human population as well as the standards of living. Obviously, drastic action of this type are not possible. So the only alternative is to try and make marginal adjustments. These include the following:
- Efforts to limit further population growth in countries and regions where population density is already very high.
- Adopting methods of economic activities that are comparatively less polluting. This cover all types of economic activities covering agriculture, industry, and service sectors. These methods should be such that these release minimum of polluting waste such as harmful chemicals and other substances in the atmosphere, water bodies, or land. Attention also needs to be paid to pollution of other types such as noise pollution and heat pollution.
- Particular attention needs to be paid to reduce emission caused by burning of fossil fuel. This can be achieved by employing better technology for using fossil fuel and by changing to generation of energy using renewable energy sources.
- Avoiding excessive use of materials and technologies that use natural resources that cannot be replenished.
- Using human resources and technology to protect and replenish, and increase natural resources that face the threat of depletion or extinction. The most important among these is the plantation and forest cover on the earth.
- Avoid wasteful consumption.
- Avoid creation of waste that is not bio-degradable, or that cannot be recycled by some other means.
- Take care to dispose off waste created by economic and consumption activities in a way that reduces the adverse environmental impact.
- Avoid disturbance to pockets of natural environments that are vulnerable to pollution or destruction in other forms by any kind of human activity.