How You Can Help Make Every Day Earth Day
How You Can Help Make Every Day Earth Day
At some point in this social media age, Earth Day became a day for everyone to share their favourite travel photo on Instagram. As beautiful as the pictures may be, posting them is not one of the many big or small actions we can take to better care for our Earth and the creatures we share it with.
While we can awe at the beauty of our world, this Earth Day, let’s commit to choices that can positively impact the environment. Check out our list of everyday decisions that can lead to big changes!
Take a cold shower. I maybe shouldn’t have started with such a controversial one. If you think I’m taking away hot relaxing showers, you might be tempted to stop reading now. Trust me though, there are even easier actions included on this list. Don’t get me wrong, I love to unwind in a hot shower at the end of a long day, but even taking one or two cold showers per week helps make a difference.
Hot showers contribute to higher utility costs and increased carbon emissions. If you and your housemates commit to even one weekly cold shower, you’ll shrink your utility bills and your carbon footprint! Who doesn’t love a win-win?
Purchase Carbon Offsets. Speaking of carbon footprints, I couldn’t leave out this suggestion! Every single one of us leaves a carbon footprint, often without even realizing it. Here’s a short list of some actions that produce greenhouse gases:
- Taking a flight for any vacation you’ve ever been on
- Driving to work every day
- Making hamburgers for dinner
- Heating your house in the winter and keeping it cool in the summer
- Doing a load of laundry
If you’re living, you’re leaving a carbon footprint. We can do our best to shrink our footprint, and all of the suggestions on this list will help, but for the inevitable impact we have, consider purchasing carbon offsets! The money you put toward carbon offsets will help fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
Buy reusable napkins. Ditch the paper napkins and opt for reusable linen ones. You can take it a step further and wash your linen napkins in cold water. Opting to line dry when possible instead of using your dryer is also a good idea. If you decide to make this change, notice I suggested swapping out paper napkins for linen ones, not cotton. Cotton is a highly irrigated crop that requires a lot of water, as well as chemicals such as biocides.
Buy secondhand furniture and home goods. As we head into spring and summer, there is no better time to keep an eye out for garage sales and flea markets that offer a wide variety of used goods – from dining chairs and patio furniture to dish sets and crockpots. Resale shops and thrift stores also make for great hunting grounds.
I just recently purchased my first home, and I have created a little game of seeing just how much of my home I can furnish using finds from Facebook Marketplace and garage sales. This is one way to save yourself some money and remove yourself (even a little) from consumerist demands that deplete natural resources and produce greenhouse gas emissions. A bonus is how fun it is to hunt for the perfect accent chair or lamp!
Buy secondhand clothes. Give yourself a new look with used clothing. Some of the sites I listed above for furniture also sell lightly used jewelry, clothing, and shoes. Poshmark and ThredUp are two other online consignment and thrift stores worth checking out. If you’re like me and you enjoy a day out shopping, take a visit to your local resale shop. For a more social shopping experience, plan a clothing swap with your friends. Make it an event by “shopping” each other’s closets with coffee, wine, or snacks in hand. You’ll enjoy a fun-filled day and leave with a closet of clothes new to you.
Shop with reusable bags. These are great for groceries but can be used for any retail purchases. Find them for sale at grocery stores or pick up cute themed ones at Target or TJ Maxx. If you choose to stick with plastic or paper store bags, be sure to recycle or reuse them. Many grocery stores will allow you to return store bags, and they’ll recycle them for you. You can also reuse them as liners for your bathroom trash can.
Try eco-friendly feminine products. This one is for our lady Brookies. In the United States alone, approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year. You can remove yourself from those statistics by using alternative options. Thinx are washable, reusable period underwear made of super-absorbent, leak-resistant material. Wear them on your period without a pad or tampon, rinse after use, and then throw them in the wash. Another option is the reusable menstrual cup. Insert like a tampon and wear for up to 12 hours. Then, empty the cup, rinse, and repeat! Either of these options helps keep your period waste-free.
Try Meatless Mondays. I love eating a good burger on a patio in the summertime, so I’m not suggesting you have to cut out meat altogether. But one vegetarian day each week is a doable commitment – and a small action that can have a huge impact!
The World Resources Institute reports that “beef requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gas emissions per gram of edible protein than common plant proteins such as beans.” While meat is a great protein source, it’s not the only one! Here are a few of my favourite meatless recipes to try:
Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli: My dad is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, and even he loves this one!
Tofu Street Tacos: Don’t knock tofu until you try it (and season it!). I pair these with fresh toppings, black beans, and Spanish rice.
Black Bean Burgers: Looking for minimal prep? I love these black bean burgers made by MorningStar Farms. I get mine from Sam’s Club or Costco and pair them with some homemade baked sweet potato fries!
Start slow and throw Meatless Mondays on your calendar for May (alliteration to help you remember… see what I did there?). You might surprise yourself and find you love one of these recipes so much that you’ll want it on a random Tuesday in June. Gasp!
Recycle what you can, where you can, when you can! Any recycling is better than none. Live in a city or town that collects recyclables with your trash? Great! Here’s a guide to what can and can’t be recycled. I personally found this list very helpful!
Take your pop cans (soda cans if you’re not from the Midwest like me) to your nearest grocery store. Some states like Michigan will refund you $0.10 for every can, which is a nice little perk.
Lastly, check your community’s Facebook page or website to see what resources are available in your area! Cities and townships will often host recycling days when they allow you to bring your more uncommon waste to be properly disposed of. Think waste such as large plastic pieces like the playscape your kids outgrew or old batteries with no juice left in them.
Get a FREE car wash. Align your car washes with the forecast! Spring and summer offer the perfect opportunity for you to get out in the rain and wash your car without having to drive through a car wash or turn on your hose. If you’re a little less willing to get out in the rain yourself, leave some buckets out and use the collected water the following day when the sun reappears. I’ve done both and either option ends up being quite fun. (Note: If you have kids in your life, they will love to be included in this activity!)
Organize a trash pickup in a local park or along your street. Grab some gloves and a bucket to collect litter in your neighbourhood. Make it a social gathering and invite your friends and family members along for the activity.
Buy local produce. Again, the warmer seasons are upon us and offer the perfect opportunity to be more intentional about our grocery lists. When possible, buy local produce that’s grown nearby, which cuts down on fuel and packaging needed for food transport. Check your city’s Facebook page and website for news about local farmer’s markets. If you live somewhere more rural, see if your neighbor down the road has vegetables or eggs for sale in their front yard.
If you really want to commit, search for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms in your area. CSA farms allow you to support a local farm and enjoy fresh produce on a regular schedule. Typically, a farmer will provide a certain number of “shares” that community members like you can purchase. Think of it as a subscription! In turn, you receive a box of seasonal produce every week throughout the farming season, depending on your plan. Some CSAs even include products such as meat, eggs, milk, and maple syrup.
Educate yourself on some of the environmental issues facing our world today, and consider budgeting to make a one-time or monthly donation to a cause you feel especially invested in. The following are a few of the books, documentaries, and social pages I love. Check them out – and please feel free to share some of your own with us!
Chasing Coral: This documentary on Netflix is one of my absolute favourites. I won’t lie, their forecast is a little depressing at times, but viewers gain a better understanding of ocean health and will feel a sense of hope and yearning for a solution when they’ve finished watching.
Only One: In their own words, Only One is a platform for “stories, solutions, and community action to protect oceans and tackle the climate crisis.” Follow their different social media pages, check out all of their educational resources, or donate to their cause.
Coral Restoration Foundation: I follow this nonprofit on Instagram and keep up to speed with their efforts to restore coral reefs and educate individuals like you and me. You’ll notice an ocean theme, but that’s only because ocean health is so vital to Earth’s health!
Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey by Jane Goodall: You likely recognize the author of this book as the lady known for working with chimpanzees. In her memoir, Goodall entrances you with stories of her girlhood and the time and effort she spent founding the Jane Goodall Institute. With a personal touch, she tackles some of the challenges facing our natural world and gives her readers a “reason for hope.”
How to be Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery: Simply put, this memoir was a joy to read. Montgomery gave me a whole new appreciation for the creatures we share this earth with, and she sprinkled it with fun and interesting facts you can’t help but share with your friends. If you need a reminder of how connected our world is, this is the read for you!
From washing your car in the rain to purchasing carbon offsets, there is something on this list for everyone, no matter your budget! Give one or more of these a try, and let us know how it goes.
If you have your own Earth Day suggestions for how we can be better stewards of our home, share them with us here!
Taylor Stawecki is a 20-something Michigander with a love for the great outdoors and written word. She spends her weekdays working for a digital marketing company and as a freelance copywriter. In her free time, you can find her reading, writing poetry, running, watching a Grey’s Anatomy rerun, or spending time with her family and friends. As an old soul, she enjoys collecting salt and pepper shakers and cuddling up in oversized sweaters.