Earth Day is an annual celebration of our planet and this year it falls on Sunday, April 22. It’s a day where we take the time to remember and help the one thing that lets us live, as well as inspire action to help protect it. Since we’ll all be hanging around on the planet for a while (or not, depending on when our time is up), it might be a good idea to take care of it every single day, rather than on just Earth Day.
So here’s how to make every day Earth Day:
1. Ride a bike
Get a bike and start using it. Take your bike anywhere you can! If you have a casual dress code at work, ride it into work. If you only need to get a couple of things at the grocery store, take it to the store. It’s a great workout, but it also takes a car off the road. Even getting one car off the road for a few hours a week makes a difference.
It’s fair to say that not everyone is going to be able to ride a bike everywhere. Sometimes you need a car. The idea is to skip it whenever you can. That could mean you take a bike, but you could also join a carpool, walk, or use public transportation. All of these are excellent options that can make a big difference to reducing your personal carbon footprint.
Pro tip: If bikes are impractical or you don’t feel confident to safely ride them in densely populated environments, check out this post for other eco-friendlier modes of transport.
2. Start a garden
Growing and shipping food, especially fresh produce, requires a lot of energy. You can easily counter some of that by supplying your own. Gardening helps cut down on the CO2 emissions from the transport of fresh produce. If you’re not in an area where you can plant a personal garden, then a community garden is a great alternative.
A grass lawn is similar to a concrete slab for many animals. It’s basically useless, offering almost nothing that most native wildlife might need. A garden provides some relief from that. Insects, especially pollinators, benefit greatly from gardens, but they can also draw in pests. By using companion planting, you can keep your garden from being overrun, without using pesticides.
Pro tip: If you’re keen to flex your green thumb but not sure where to start, this post runs through the essential gardening tools you’ll need.
3. Make your home energy efficient
Energy efficiency at home is easy when you know how. Depending on your home, budget, and inclination, you can make it a big system changes that change how you consume energy or make simple change improve its current energy efficiency. The simplest options are things like weather stripping around doors, replacing air filters, and stopping drafts.
However, with the price of solar panels dropping, more and more people are adding solar to their home’s energy supply. If you live in an area that gets enough sun to support solar panels, they’re a great option. How much you’ll save depends on a variety of factors, like how much energy you use, how much sun you get and how much the energy usage fluctuates, among others.
Pro tip: Make sure to check out this post for more home energy-saving ideas.
4. Support renewable energy
Renewable energy is our future but the climate is hostile. Smaller renewable start-ups compete directly against the fossil fuel industry, which is securely embedded in our global way of life and won’t give up market share in the energy sector easily. Renewable energy companies need your help to combat this.
There are different ways you can support the transition to renewable energy. One of the easiest ways to do so is to, of course, install a solar system in your home. If this is not possible due to price or lack of sun, you can buy stocks or invest in a company that supports or is solely focused on green energy. For renewable energy businesses that aren’t public, supporting their work is a little difficult but less costly. The best thing you can do is spread the word. Find a product that you find fascinating and potentially helpful, and tell others. Word of mouth means more to a business than you can imagine.
Pro tip: You’ll find more renewable energy options here.
5. Skip single-use items
Single-use items are costly to the environment, and since our lifestyles are built on convenience. we encounter them all the time. Examples include straws that come with your meal, plastic grocery bags, paper towels, and even toilet paper all count as single-use items. Now, some of these you just won’t be able to give up, like toilet paper, but you can certainly cut down on most others.
Paper towels tend to be a big issue around the home. The alternative option is something called up-paper towels, which are cloth clean-up rags. Out and about, takeaway coffee cups are an environmental pest and can be easily avoided when you break a reusable coffee cup. You can also switch out plastic straws for a metal or glass option, and try to avoid those little cups of sauces they have at fast food restaurants. It’s not always an option of course, but where possible, try to minimize how much you use them.
Pro tip: The post 22 Steps Closer to Zero Waste Living: Disposable Items to Stop Buying Right Now covers ditching single-use disposables in great detail.
6. Go meatless on Mondays
Animal agriculture is also a large contributor to greenhouse gasses. The livestock has to be fed, transported, butchered, and then transported again to reach you. Trying to cut down on the meat you consume is one of the best and most realistic ways to help the planet.
The Dietary Guidelines for America, which are updated every five years, recommends that we consume about 5.5 ounces of meat a day. Most of us meet that requirement by lunchtime. Many more don’t follow guidelines and have embraced vegetarianism and veganism. But if you aren’t keen on this and prefer to reduce meat intake instead, skipping one day of meat every week won’t hurt anything, and it will give you an option to explore some new vegetarian options!
Pro tip: If you’re a meat eater willing to try out a vegetarian diet, this post will help. If you’re questioning meat AND dairy, this free ebook exploring the subject of veganism may answer some of your questions.
7. Just buy less
This could be one of the hardest things to do since our modern identities are built on consumer culture and advertising just perpetuates it. Buying less stuff, and having less stuff is hard to do, but it’s also vital. First world countries drive the production of significantly more greenhouse gasses and consume more of the earth’s resources.
We tend to want more stuff, knickknacks, clothes; we even want bigger cars and houses. If we rethink what ‘success’ looks like, slow down, minimize the number of things we buy, we substantially reduce what we take from the planet. Buying smaller homes, keeping older clothes longer, and buying fewer gadgets will all help.
Pro tip: If you want to step it up a notch, give the Buy Nothing New challenge a go. You can read more about it here.
Earth Day is about celebrating our planet and maintaining sustainable living conditions. Doing that requires us to rethink how we live and take mindful steps to reduce our impact on the planet each and every day.
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