April 22nd marks the 43rd annual Earth Day, where millions of people worldwide come together to promote environmental issues and inspire activism on behalf of the earth and its inhabitants. Some people use this day to host festivals or clean up river beds or start a recycling program. Others pass around petitions to curb climate change or protect endangered species. There is no “right way” to observe Earth Day. And while big events and gestures are important, I like to think that every day is—and should be—Earth Day.
Being green is easier and cheaper than you think! It isn’t about buying the newest and “greenest” stuff, but rather about adapting our lives to be more sustainable. The smallest changes to our everyday habits can have a massive impact on the planet. Still need a little more encouragement? Many of the tips I have included in this post are beneficial not only to the environment, but also to your communities, your health, and your wallet.
- Consider human-powered transportation (like walking or riding a bike) when possible. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator saves energy. Carpooling and consolidating errands will also help reduce pollution.
- One of the simplest and healthiest actions you can take for the environment is to reduce your consumption of meat and animal products. Afraid to take the vegetarian/vegan plunge? Try eating a few meatless meals every week.
- Grabbing a cup of coffee or tea? Bringing your own travel mug not only helps reduce waste, but many places (including our own cafeteria) won’t charge you full price.
- Use reusable containers when bringing your lunch to work or school. Plastic sandwich bags can be washed and reused many times, too.
- Like many people trying to live a little greener, you may have started buying from the bulk bins. But don’t waste your money on expensive canisters, reuse those tomato sauce and jelly jars! Just be sure they are washed and dried before refilling them.
- With summer just around the corner, many local farmers’ markets are beginning to open. Buying locally grown foods will not only help the environment, but will also help your community’s farmers and growers.
- Have some unused space in your yard? On your counter? Consider growing some of your favorite foods. Most herbs can easily be grown in pots and kept in a sunny window. Afraid to start plants from seed? Many farmers’ markets also sell plants!
- Want to leave a legacy? Plant a tree! A tree cleans the air, holds the soil in place, and can even cool your house.
- Please don’t litter! Plastic wrappers and other trash can wreak havoc on an ecosystem; 6-pack rings and even wads of gum can maim and kill wildlife.
- Once your electronics are charged, unplug your charger from the outlet. The charger will continue to use (and waste) electricity.
- REDUCE! REUSE! RECYCLE!
- And lastly (and thank you for making it this far), get involved! There are many local, national, and international organizations that are working to protect our environment. If there is a cause that interests you, do a little research. You’d be amazed at some of the work being done in the world today.
And here is a YouTube clip from a 90s cartoon that really inspired me to be an environmentalist: Captain Planet and the Planeteers! For a really catchy theme song, listen to the closing credits.