Feel inspired to do something to help the planet, but don’t want to leave the comfort of your couch? We hear you. That’s why we love the Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World. It lets you ease in by taking minimal steps before taking the plunge and becoming a planet-saving superhero.
These tips were made by the U.N. to help regular people focus on the Sustainable Development Goals in their daily lives. Let me step back a minute to explain.
What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?
Back in 2015, the world leaders came together and expanded on a list of eight goals known as the Millennium Development Goals that had originally been created in 2000 to a list of seventeen broad reaching goals. This way, people around the world could rally around important societal values that go way beyond just becoming rich. These goals were given a deadline and named the U.N. 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Quality education
- Gender Equality
- Clean water and sanitation
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
- Reduced inequalities
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible production and consumption
- Climate action
- Life below water
- Life on land
- Peace, justice and strong institutions
- Partnerships for the goals
As you can see, many of these sweeping goals invite action from world leaders. It may seem difficult for just one person to ensure quality education or strive for sound infrastructure. However, the U.N. didn’t only want to energize governments, institutions, and businesses. It also wanted regular people to rise to the challenge to support these goals, so it created a helpful guide with a list of simple actions you can personally take that help the world.
The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World
Even if you just spare a few moments from the seat of your couch to act slightly differently, you can help achieve the SDGs. The guide is divided into four levels, by the amount of effort each one takes.
Level One: What you can do from your couch
- Turn off your lights.
- Unplug everything when you’re not using it.
- Stop receiving paper receipts.
- Buy from sustainable brands (and do your research).
- Speak up by calling your government representatives, signing online petitions and talking with friends about social and environmental issues.
- Report bullies online.
- Offset your carbon emissions.
Level Two: What you can do at home
- Air dry your hair and clothes. Use a full load when you wash your clothes.
- Time yourself and take five-minute showers.
- Eat less meat, poultry, and fish (eat a plant-based diet).
- Compost your vegetable skins, orange peels, and other food scraps.
- Buy items with less packaging.
- Eliminate drafts from leaky windows in your home for energy efficiency.
- Don’t over-cool or heat your home.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.
Level Three: What you can do in your neighborhood
- Buy from local companies.
- Support ocean-friendly fisheries and sustainable seafood to avoid overfishing (or go vegan).
- Avoid single-passenger car travel. Go by foot, bike or public transportation.
- Carry refillable water bottles and coffee cups with you. Avoid single-use products.
- Bring your own shopping bag to the store.
- Use fewer napkins, toilet paper, and other single-use paper products.
- Buy second-hand clothes and furniture.
- Donate unwanted items.
- Vote for politicians who support sustainability.
Level Four: What you can do at work
- Give away your leftovers to someone who wants them.
- Support equal pay and equal access to benefits like healthcare.
- Become a mentor to a younger person.
- Do the people in the area have a public toilet? Speak up if they don’t.
- If you see discrimination of race, gender, religion, physical ability, sexual orientation or social status, speak up and defend equality.
- Find a low-carbon commuting option (bike, bus, shared rides) and use it every day.
- Educate others by sponsoring a No Impact Week at work.
When you think about it, all of those little adjustments add up when thousands or even millions of people make them. Maybe you’re already doing some of these things without realizing it. If so, pat yourself on the back and set yourself a challenge to add one or two more things to your roster of planet-saving activities each day.
Tell us actions you’ve taken that got the most impact for the least amount of effort in the comments.
Still curious about how to take action? Check out some of our best “How To” posts: