This year International Earth Day celebrate's it 50th anniversary on 22nd April, 2020. Though we are all social distancing and self isolating to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID19) there are still things we can do to make a positive environmental difference. Here are 50 ways in which you can make an impact this Earth Day (and everyday forward).
First thing's first, a little history lesson. After all, to know if we're headed in the right direction, we have to know where we've been. Right?
1970 - The first Earth Day mobilizes 20 million Americans to call for increased protections for our planet
1990 - Earth Day goes global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries
2000 - Earth Day leverages the power of digital media to build millions of local conversations across more than 180 countries
2010 - Earth Day Network launches A Billion Acts of Green® and The Canopy Project. Earth Day 2010 engages 75,000 global partners in 192 countries
2020 - Earth Day will mark 50 years with global activations that aim to mobilize a billion people worldwide for transformative action for our planet.
EARTH DAY 2020 THEME: CLIMATE ACTION
The enormous challenge of combatting climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. At the end of 2020, nations will be expected to increase their national commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Now is the time that all world citizens need to make their voices heard. Now more than ever we need to stand together and demand our leaders take action.
1. Opt out of paper junk mail. In the United States alone over 110 million pieces of junk mail is delivered annually. An estimated 42% of timber harvested nationwide is used to produce junk mail, 80% of which is tossed out without being recycled.
2. Use a reusable water bottle. Americans purchase an average of 50 billion plastic bottles a year. Less than 20% of these plastic bottles are recycled. One reusable water bottle can save an estimated 156 plastic bottles per year.
3. Donate. Sometimes we don't always the have time or energy to commit to lifestyle changes or personal carbon reduction but want to make a difference. In instances like this donating to charitable organizations, schools or even individuals that are making positive environmental change in a way that resonates with you is a great idea. At Soulteria some of our favorite charities are listed here.
4. Reduce consumption. I know you hear it from every environmentally conscious person out there, and you're probably tired of hearing it, but it's true - you do not need that sparkly new thing. Too often we don't realize that we buy things out of habit and not necessity. Reducing the unnecessary things your purchase on a regular basis could not only be good for the environment, but also good for your health, and your wallet.
5. Reuse where able. The average consumer no longer uses a product to its maximum lifecycle anymore before purchasing the hottest and latest version of that item. Purchasing quality goods and using them to their full capacity is both environmentally and financially beneficial.
6. Recycle. Let's be honest, the rubbish filling our landfills, floating in our oceans and polluting out air is all manmade. If plastic takes 500 years to degrade, once it's reduced, we should be finding ways to continue using it for that 500 years. Find creative ways to repurpose things you'd normally toss out. Find out if your city, township or state offers any incentives or financial breaks for persons who recycle.
7. Open curtains/blinds for natural light. Our environment provides us with what we need, why pay for an artificial version of it? Rather than turning on the lights during the day, try opening your blinds or curtain to let natural light in instead.
8. Compost at home. Using compost for planting, adds water-holding organic matter to the soil - it feeds the soil micro-organisms that help the soil and the plants stay healthy. It also a great way to reduce your yard and kitchen waste.
9. Switch off unnecessary standby appliances. Believe it or not, the electronic appliances you put on standby save very little energy. Practicing unplugging electronics when in use can save a considerable amount of energy, and money.
10. Say no to single use plastic. Refusing plastic bags isn't enough. Singe use plastic is all around us. Let the producers of your favorite products know that you are not keen on plastic packaging, opt for shopping brands that offer plastic free delivery, go to refill stores or shop brands that provide refills for eco-conscious packaged goods.
11. Grow what you can. It doesn't get more local than your own backyard/balcony. Planting veggies or herbs that you use regularly is a great way to integrate environmental sustainability into your lifestyle and diet. Not to mention saves you a ton on organic veggies at the local market.
12. Take a reusable bag on shopping runs. Plastic bags are undoubtably, incredibly destructive to the environment. They take hundreds of years to break down, contaminate soil and waterways, and cause widespread marine animal deaths.
13. Keep a reusable straw handy. Second to plastic bags, plastic straws are overrunning our streams, clogging our waterways and harming our marine life. Reusable straws are most often made from stainless steel or food grade silicon, both of which once cared for can last you several years!
14. Bring your own reusable mug to your favorite coffee shop. Bringing your own mug to your favorite coffee shop is environmentally friendly, improves sanitary habits, and can often save you a buck or two (depending on where you get your coffee).
15. Educate yourself and others. Knowledge is power! How can we expect change if we don't know what the problem is, options for solutions or where to turn to for guidance? Use the web, media and your social circles to both learn and share.Let’s work together to make the world a better place.
16. Use public mass transit, carpool, biking and those God given legs. A reduction of driving by 10% percent and increase in walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transit, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.2 to 0.8 tonnes per year, per individual. If you live in a metropolitan city, or a small town, opt for walking or biking to areas that are the closest to you rather than driving.
17. Ditch disposable cutlery. Keeping reusable utensils handy when dining out eliminates the need for singe use plastic cutlery, especially if you don't like sing silverware at restaurants. When ordering delivery, be sure to add in your notes to the vendor that plastic utensils are not necessary.
18. Support Sustainable. Make a conscious decision to support businesses whose products are sustainable and ethically made/sourced. Doing this will hep keep those businesses running, as well as show businesses whose practices are not environmentally friendly, that adopting ethical practices does not have to been loosing profitability.
19. Line dry your clothes. It may seem like an antiquated notion, but line drying clothing is still one of the most energy efficient and cost effective ways to drying your laundered laundry.
20. Get politically active. Public servants job is to do but one thing - serve the public. Attend a town hall meeting, write an email, place some phone calls. Ask your representative's stance on climate change. Advocate for local policy changes, energy efficiency and transparency.
21. Pick up trash. We're not always all on the same page. But we can't just let the ignorance of others destroy our future. If you're headed out for a beach day, picnic or a dog walk take a trash bag with you. Pick up any trash you come across, and even encourage others to join in. Divide trash into recyclables, and properly dispose of the rest.
22. Switch your traditional lightbulbs to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). LEDs are today's most energy-efficient lighting technologies. The usually use less energy, produce more light, are more durable and have an overall better return of investment. Residential LEDs - especially ENERGY STAR rated products - use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
23. Shop local. Buying locally produced or grown goods is great for the environment and your local economy. It supports local farmers, and is often a little more cost effective than paying for imported goods
24. Travel locally. Looking for a getaway? Before booking that trip to a far away tropical destination, consider exploring your own state or the country you're in. What places do people from other countries come to your state/country to visit? Have you visited the national parks? Historic monuments? Adventure does't have to be a 13 hour flight away.
25. Invest in renewable energy. With the plunging prices of solar power and the incredible progress being made in the renewable energy industry, now is the perfect time to invest in those solar panels, home windmills and hydropower converters if there is flowing water on your property.
26. Don't let the water run. As you are brushing your teeth, washing your face, or other household chores that involve water turn the water off when you are not using it. Clean, potable water should not be taken for granted. If the water's running, make use of every drop!
27. Properly air seal & insulate your home. Ensuring that your home is properly air sealed and insulated can reduce potential energy loss and reduce overall energy used for heating and cooling.
28. Turn off your engine. Unless you're in traffic, try not to leave your car idling for more than 10 minutes. It's bad for your car, wastes fuel, and contributes to air pollution.
29. Ask for email/SMS receipts. When shopping, instead of a paper receipt, which you'd either loose or toss, as for a digital receipt. This also makes it easier to keep track of purchases and store "return by" dates.
30. Pay your bills online. If every US household received electronic statements, then we could save 18.5 million trees, 2.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases 1.7 billion pounds of solid waste per year. Paying online is quick, easy and can make a huge difference on the environment.
31. Reusable hygiene products. Though very important, hygiene products and their packaging creates a lot of waste. Many hygiene products also are made of non organic materials, which if you knew more about, you wouldn't want on/in your bodies. Try swapping them out for organic and reusable options.
32. Use rechargeable batteries. Batteries contain chemicals that are hazardous to the environment when degrading. Rechargeable batteries help save you money while limiting environmental hazmat.
33. Know what's in your products. So many products are made of unnecessary, wasteful and sometimes harmful components. Knowing what goes into the products you buy can hep you make educated, sustainable and healthy purchases.
34. Use reusable gift packaging. We all love receiving gifts. Why not give a gift in packaging that keeps on giving? Instead of cheap wrapping paper, try a reusable gift bag.
35. Invest in a bidet or sustainable toilet paper. We know now more than ever that toilet paper is a household essential, and that chopping down trees to make it is neither good for the environment nor efficient. Try swapping your regular tissue for sustainable cotton or bamboo toilet paper. Want to cut back on toilet paper all together, invest in a bidet attachment for your porcelain throne.
36. Plant a tree! Sounds like a novel idea right? Trees are still the one of the most powerful resources on Earth. They produce oxygen, absorbs carbon dioxide and gases that contribute to global warming, as well as can provide shade.
37. Maintain properly inflated tires. Driving with properly inflated tires reduces your gas mileage by up to 3%. With every gallon of gasoline saved, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
38. Washcloths/Unpaper over paper towels. Unlike disposable paper towels (which our incredible trees are chopped down to make), "unpaper" or washcloths can be used to clean up messes over and over and over again!
39. Rebuying/ Thrifting. Many items that consumers purge from their lives are still of great quality and value. Rebuying or thrifting can save you a pretty penny and save some great items from being lost to the landfill. Some great reselling apps are Poshmark, Mercari and LetGo.
40. Your voice matters. Speak up! In today's digital age, our combined voices are louder than ever. Flood the phone lines and email inboxes of your public officials, use your social media presence. Together, we cannot be silenced.
41. Use every drop of water. Your local wells, water reservoirs and water lines don't make use of the perfectly good water that fall right from the sky. At home rain barrels or gardens help capture and purify water, that can be used for all sorts of chores.
42. Hack your thermostat. Heating and cooling account for the bulk of residential energy consumption. Many people focus on the number and not on the feeling which leads to massive amounts of wasted energy. A rule of thumb is to set your thermostat 2 degrees cooler in the winter and 2 degrees warmer in the summer. Chances are, you won't be able to feel the differenced, but will see it on your energy bill.
43. Vote like your future depends on it - because it does. Every election, at every level matters. Get to know the candidates for public office in your town, city or state. Ask what their opinions on matters regarding the environment are and their plans to invoke positive environmental change. Let's not forget the we have the power.
44. Eat less meat. We're not asking everyone to vegan. However eating a little less meat, still sends a powerful message to the companies breeding methane producing cattle and sheep for the express purposes of selling meats. Also, let's face it - it's healthier.
45. Expand your digital library. I love a good hardcopy as much as the next gal/guy, but the novelty has been weaning. Traditional bookstores and libraries are dying. Digital books have become cheaper, easily accessible and affordable. Why take one book with you when you can take them all!
46. Rally the community. Speak to like minded people in your community, organize park or beach clean ups, education outreach initiatives or programs the community can invest, participate in and reap reward from.
47. Know your carbon footprint. There are tons of free carbon emission calculators online. Find out just how much carbon your lifestyle is producing. This helps determine the most effective way to reduce your footprint.
48. Say no to fast fashion. Behind "Big Oil" the fashion industry produces the most waste. Trendy, cheap clothing most often is worn a few times and is then tossed out - only to waste away in our landfills. Instead, buy sustainable, quality clothing that lasts.
49. Don't pre-rinse. Most Americans have dishwashers in their homes but don't effectively use them. Rinsing your dishes before loading them in the dishwasher only wastes water. Instead, fully load your washer and add dish soap to your machine's prewash cycle. This could save you an average of twenty gallons of water per load.
50. Recycle your cell phone. The average consumer is now replacing their cell phone every 18 months. Nearly 150 million cell phones are being tossed out annually. If your phone is still functional, ask your preferred phone manufacturer if they have a recycling program, or donate your old phone to charities, programs or individuals that may need them.
Howard Zinn said, "Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world." How are you going to take action for the planet?
Written by: Alissa Millett, Soulteria Founder & CEO