By Brett Coffee, a junior history education major from London.

We all do it; swing by McDonalds, order a combo from the menu, then after we’re done we throw away the wrappers and super-sized cup. This may seem harmless, but does anyone ever think about the impact that a $3.99 value meal has on the environment? Well, I didn’t either until I recently found that the average American consumes about 120 pounds of natural resources every single day. The number may seem high, but when you think about the water and food consumed by the cow to produce that quarter-pound hamburger, the oil that went in to making the wrapper or the land that was degraded by the pesticides that were used to grow the potatoes, the number doesn’t seem so high anymore.

As Americans our society is extremely wasteful. Most of us don’t realize the massive amount of energy which our everyday actions take; from eating, driving, and for the most part simply just being a consumer puts a significant strain on mother nature.

At our current rate we are using many natural resources faster than they are being produced.

Although the answer to our waste and pollution problem is not a simple one, there are many choices one can make that will make a difference. Try eating fewer beef products since that will cut down on the energy and resources it takes to raise the cow. It will also reduce the size of the huge cattle farms that are causing our Great Plains to turn into a desert.

Substituting chicken or fish for the lion’s share of your beef intake would be a more environmentally-sound decision. Although these both still take up a large amount of resources, they require much less than the beef.

Drive less and walk those short distances. This will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions as well as improve a person’s physical health.

Some people even take their own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store so the company doesn’t have to manufacture as many plastic bags.

The obvious course of action for being less wasteful is to recycle. It takes significantly fewer resources and energy to recycle your trash than it does to produce the trash again from raw materials, and it is fairly effortless to do.

In order to make a difference everyone needs to sacrifice a habit or two.

Although difficult at first, the experience will likely become rewarding, and your old acts of tossing your soda cans into a landfill or driving to your next-door neighbor’s house to eat a hamburger will hardly be missed at all.

If you have a soft spot for the environment and wish to help even more, contact the Department of Environmental Protection in Frankfort at (502) 564-2150 to learn about upcoming events and issues that are in need of our attention.

Also let your state representatives know about your concerns for the environment. They are here to represent what the public wants, and if the public wants a cleaner community, their actions could help achieve this challenging goal.