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What Are Natural Resources?
Natural resources are resources that occur in nature without any manmade assistance. Any naturally occurring substance qualifies as a natural resource, including animals, plants, water, oil, coal, minerals, timber, land, light, soil, and energy. Natural resources can be renewable or nonrenewable:
- Renewable resources refer to undiminishable substances, such as solar and wind energy, biomass energy, and hydropower.
- Nonrenewable resources refer to resources that cannot be naturally replenished at an adequate pace to meet growing demands. Nonrenewable resources include water, fossil fuels, natural gases, minerals, and nuclear energy.
Why Is Conserving Natural Resources Important?
Humans rely on natural resources for survival, but not all natural resources are renewable. The food and water we consume, the air we breathe, and the shelter we make all derive from natural resources, so we must take steps to conserve what we have to encourage the health and longevity of both the planet and humankind. Human activity, mainly the use of nonrenewable resources like fossil fuels, is responsible for the massive spike in climate change. By conserving our natural resources, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and have a more positive impact on our natural environment.
8 Ways to Conserve Natural Resources at Home
There are several ways to conserve natural resources in your very own home, such as:
- Use less water. Taking shorter showers or turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth can reduce water waste in your home. Only use your dishwasher or washing machine when there is a full load, and switch to energy-saving appliances if possible.
- Turn off the lights. Turn off any lights or televisions after you leave a room. Unplug appliances like portable air conditioners, toasters, and coffeemakers when not in use, as they can continue to use small amounts of electricity. Additionally, LED light bulbs require far less wattage than standard bulbs, so switching to this alternative lighting method can also help conserve resources.
- Use renewable energy. Although renewable energy consumption has been in practice for centuries, recent years of climate change and global warming have pushed many scientists and researchers to look for ways to incorporate more green practices into our everyday lives. Renewable energy replenishes itself, cutting down on our need to harvest new resources. Using solar panels or wind energy can significantly reduce our reliance on natural gas and cut back on resource depletion over time.
- Recycle. Making new products requires the use of resources, but recycling helps reuse the materials we already have. Manufacturing fewer new materials reduce waste, which helping decrease groundwater and air pollution. Find a center that accepts items like plastic bottles, cardboard, or aluminum for recycling. Switch to paperless billing and buy recycled paper to limit the need for logging and deforestation.
- Compost. Composting is a great way to convert your food scraps into useful materials for your home garden. Composting enriches your soil and reduces the need for watering by improving runoff, which reduces soil erosion. Composting also attracts beneficial organisms that cut down on the need for pesticides or harmful chemicals. Composting encourages sustainability and can lessen the amount of waste and pollution produced by food waste.
- Choose reusable goods. Avoiding single-use plastics is another way to conserve resources. Instead of buying water bottles, plastic cups, or paper plates, opt for ceramic, metal, or glassware. Use your own fabric grocery bags rather than plastic bags. Reusing items is a great way to reduce waste and keep excess trash out of landfills.
- Manage your thermostat. Heating and air conditioning make up approximately half of your energy bill, but lowering the heat by just two degrees in the winter can help conserve energy in your home. Raising the thermostat two degrees in the summer will also have energy-saving effects and help reduce your monthly bill.
- Thrift shop. It can take over 600 gallons of water to make a single cotton t-shirt. Buying secondhand clothing can reduce the amount of reusable clothing that ends up in landfills by extending its lifecycle. Thrift shopping increases the amount of time between the use and disposal phase of a garment’s lifecycle, giving us more out of our used clothing, which can decrease the need for overproduction and manufacturing.
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