5 easy things you can do to take some pressure off the planet

Look for Earth-friendly actions to take at home, from installing a water-filtering rain garden to repairing rather than replacing broken items.

Buy less

There’s a fix for that: You don’t have to be handy to salvage broken appliances or furniture. Groups around the world convene to restore items in disrepair, to keep them out of landfills. Most meetups are on hold for now, but some have gone virtual. fixitclinic.org

Home energy

Don’t lose your cool: Feeling the heat even when your cooling system is on? Take a look at your windows. Seal any cracks around the edges with caulk or weather stripping, to keep cooled air from escaping. And consider insulated cellular—or honeycomb—shades, which can reduce solar heat coming through the windows by up to 80 percent. More tips: energy.gov/energysaver/heat-and-cool

Safer water

A 2017 analysis found 26 different drugs in samples of drinking water from across the United States. Don’t flush or toss medications; find a directory of safe disposal spots at safe.pharmacy/drug-disposal

Skip plastic

Better baggies: All those plastic sacks for snacks and leftovers join more than 10 million tons of packaging headed to landfills each year. You’ll find plenty of reusable alternatives made of silicone, fabric, and other materials. stasherbag.com

In the yard

Unchecked storm runoff carries motor oil, debris, and pesticides into waterways. Rain gardens collect excess water, letting the ground filter it. epa.gov/soakuptherain

For more stories about how to help the planet, go to natgeo.com/planet

This story appears in the June 2021 issue of National Geographic magazine.

Read This Next

An ambitious new Florida trail links two U.S. national parks
How reading the night sky helped Black Americans survive
Does a woman’s fertility really plummet at age 35?

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet