Taking a Proactive Approach to Being Earth-Friendly

Perhaps no issue has garnered more headlines in the 21st century than the environment. A cause celebre for years, the issues facing the environment were even documented by former Vice President Al Gore in the Academy Award winning film "An Inconvenient Truth."

While there are several reactionary things people can do to help their environment, there are also preemptive actions concerned citizens can take to lessen their carbon footprint. Such actions are know as "precycling," which allow us to reduce the amount of resources needed to manufacture goods. The following ways are some of the more effective means to precycling, and won't take much effort at all while still paying big dividends.

* Reduce reliance on packaging. Excess packaging produces significant and often unnecessary waste. When gifting, in lieu of wrapping paper, employ a reusable gift bag. If shopping, if two products are similar in quality, consider the packagaing before making a purchase. If one has excess packaging, send an indirect message to manufacturers and avoid that one. Believe it or not, market research is done on such consumer decisions, and your voice will be heard if you routinely make such decisions.

* Use cloth instead of plastic bags at the grocery store. Many grocery stores now sell reusable cloth bags shoppers can use to reduce the production of plastic grocery bags. If the local store doesn't sell them, simply purchase them online or at another store. People who have already done this often say they forget the bags when heading to the store. To combat this problem, simply place them in the trunk of your car once you've taken the groceries home and unloaded the bags.

* Convenience isn't really convenient. Nowadays, society is all about immediacy. The more convenient something is, the more popular it will likely become. However, many times what's billed as convenient is anything but. For instance, harming the environment is never convenient, so while those styrofoam cups at the coffee shop might be more immediately convenient than lugging a travel mug around each and every day, those styrofoam mugs are not convenient to the environment.

When hosting a party, don't opt for throwaway paper plates. Instead, choose reusable plates. They don't have to be the fine china, but sturdy, reusable plates can be bought on the cheap at most home stores and will be far more beneficial to the environment than their paper counterparts.

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