Earth Day occurs each year on April 22. Starting in 1970, we agreed to devote one day each year to celebrating and protecting the environment. Here’s the thing: the environment is necessary for our survival. So why don’t we treat every day like Earth Day? With the temperature climbing and sea levels rising (20 centimeters last century and double that in the last 2 decades) – now is the time to act. (Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know? 2021) Here’s what you can do to celebrate Earth Day year-round.
- Find reusable alternatives for single-use plastic
33% of plastic is used just once before being discarded. It doesn’t biodegrade. It breaks down into tiny microplastics. Americans alone discard over 30 million tons of plastic each year, with just 8% of that being recycled. (Plastic Pollution Coallition, The Facts) So, next time you’re grabbing coffee or picking up takeaway, bring your own reusable cup or container. Keep a reusable bag in your backpack or car. Add a metal straw or reusable cutlery set to your bag so you’re always prepared to avoid single-use plastic.
- Eat less red meat
100 people imperfectly trying to eat less meat can do more good than 10 people eating a perfect vegan diet. Industrial meat production causes forest fires, as farmers deliberately set fires – even in the Amazon – to clear land for ranching. It’s the single largest cause of deforestation. (Brown, 2020) Instead of supporting that industry, try to limit your red meat intake. Support local, ethical, and regenerative farmers whenever possible.
- Plant something & get outside
It’s very easy to get disconnected from the natural world around us. We’re all absorbed with our phones, social media, and the 24-hour news cycle. Don’t worry, it’s not just you – it’s designed to keep you interested. Take some time to get outside and reconnect with nature. Remind yourself why it’s so important to protect the environment. Go for a walk, a hike, or a picnic in the park. Try planting a tree or a garden. Reconnecting with the earth is good for the soul and will reinforce your determination to protect the environment.
- Shop your closet
In the US, 85% of all textiles are thrown away. That’s 13 million tons each year that end up in the landfill or burned. Globally, it’s estimated that we create 92 million tons of textile waste yearly – that’s a dump truck full of clothing ending up in a landfill every second. (Beall, 2020) Next time you want to go shopping, try shopping your closet instead. Reorganize it and take photos of outfits you want to try out. Put clothing you need to wear in a visible location. You’ll likely find items you forgot you had!
- Buy digital products instead of physical
So many products are available in digital form nowadays. Next time there’s a new album or book you’re considering buying, get it digitally. You’ll avoid additional physical waste and have access to it forever! Save purchasing the physical version for special occasions.
- Walk or ride your bike somewhere
Walking or riding your bike creates zero emissions – compared with 4.6 million tons of carbon dioxide created by the typical passenger vehicle. (Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle 2018) For any locations you’re headed to nearby, choose to avoid the car. As a bonus, you’ll get some extra exercise and fresh air!
- Watch a documentary
Staying knowledgeable about our environment is a incredibly important for staying motivated to fight for it. Check out the most recent environmental documentaries, or any you haven’t seen yet. The True Cost, Blackfish, and Seaspiracy are all awesome options. Bonus points if you get your friends and family to join you!
- Organize a community clean up
Getting others involved in the fight for the environment will yield huge results. Organize a clean-up in your community and invite all your friends and family. Create posts on social media to encourage involvement throughout your community. You’ll have a cleaner environment and you just might inspire someone.
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Beall, A. (2020, July 12). Why clothes are so hard to recycle. BBC Future. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200710-why-clothes-are-so-hard-to-recycle. Brown, N. (2020, August 3). 7 reasons why meat is bad for the environment. Greenpeace UK.
Environmental Protection Agency. (2018, May 10). Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle. EPA.
NASA. (2021, January 22). Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know? NASA. https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.