As twentysomethings, we have the power to influence the future of our environment. Unlike our parents and Gen X, we haven't become brand committed yet. Businesses and leaders are waiting to see what we do. With our practices, our wallets and the Internet, we have the ability to significantly steer the course of the Green movement.
See Your City From a Different View
Getting out of the car completely changes your perspective. Bicycling and walking through your community allows you to actually engage in your neighborhood rather than just being a spectator who drives by. The environmental benefit is that by committing to cycle within a 2 mile radius of your home you can keep up to 20 lbs of carbon out of the air (per round trip).
Volunteer in Your Community
Our soon-to-be President has asked for a renewed "Call to Service." Most major cities and towns have environmental organizations that are looking for help. Whether it's the big guns like the NRDC or small grassroots organizations, you can find a cause that is happy to have you. If committing isn't possible, look into actions like Eco Running where you take a bag with you as you walk or run through town and pick up trash as you go along.
Kick Your To-Go Habit
We live in a to-go culture, so it's hard to kick the habit. First thing, get rid of the plastic bottle. One plastic bottle can take up to 700 years to decompose in the landfill. Earth Lust and Sigg make functional, stylish bottles that are easy to carry. In 2006 Starbucks cut down over 900,000 trees to create over 2 billion paper cups. If you can drink your coffee there, ask for a mug. If you have to take it to go, get a portable mug. I'm a big fan of the stainless steel Hybrid Mug from revengeis.com. If you're really committed, look into To-Go Ware. To-Go Ware is individual stainless steel containers and bamboo utensil you can take with you anywhere. Many restaurants will let you put your take out or doggie bags in these containers. All you have to do is ask.
Buy Green, Fair and Used
Designers are now using resources like bamboo, organic cotton, hemp, reclaimed wood, plastic bottles and old unwanted clothes to make innovative products. Green fashion no longer equates to hippie frocks, rather to high fashion runway couture by designers like Linda Loudermilk. Another element that is just as important is the who behind your product. If your new cotton tee is organic but is made in a sweatshop in Burma, you're not doing the planet much good. Make sure the companies you support honor Fair Trade practices as well. Eco chic fashion boutiques seem to be sprouting up everywhere, but if you can't find one near you visit two of my favorite online eco shops: thegreenloop.com and btcelements.com.
Look into vintage or recycled fashions. I've been able to score big designer names like Michael Kors and Alexander McQueen for $10. Visit stores like Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads if you live on the West Coast. Your local vintage shop will have great finds at cheap prices too. For furniture or electronics, websites like Craigslist.com and Freecycle.org are great ways to get products that are already out there and might be destined for the landfills if no one takes them.
When in doubt, it is always greener to buy used than to buy new even if the product is green.
Party With the Big O: Organic Beer, Wine, & Spirits
Food is not the only thing that should be organic. Look for organic beers from local brewers or companies like New Belgium. Countries all over the world have begun growing organic and biodynamic wines. There are a growing number of organic spirits on the markets too. A mention must go out to 4 Copas Organic Tequila for their smooth, white tequila that tastes better than Patron.
Educate Yourself and Spread the Knowledge
If there is one lesson we can learn from the Obama Campaign it is the power of the Internet to organize movements. Friends, "Facebook friends" and strangers can build support to rally around mutual causes. Share your favorite green sites, blogs and tips with others. Become a supporter of green organizations and the individuals that bring you this information.
*Remember, every step helps no matter how small.