Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, the day that marks the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Earthday.org describes 1970 like this: “Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. ‘Environment’ was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.”
10 Earth Day Tips to Reduce Your Impact
Earth Day is now recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that works to change human behavior and provoke policy changes. We’ve come a long way in 49 years, but many still think the efforts of one individual are meaningless when it comes to protecting and preserving our environment. In fact, you can make a difference by changing ten small things starting now, in anticipation of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020.
Earth Day Tip #1. According to the Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC) at UC Berkeley, changing your diet is considered the most effective step an individual can take to reduce his/her carbon footprint. You don’t need to become vegan, but consider reducing your consumption of meat. SERC recommends “meatless Monday” as a great starting point (and if you’re really ambitious, try veggie tacos on Taco Tuesday).
Earth Day Tip #2. Another diet-related item is your trips to the grocery store. Stop using one-time grocery bags, especially the plastic variety. If you request paper bags for your groceries, remember to re-use the bag as many times as possible before recycling it.
Earth Day Tip #3. If your daily commute starts with a stop for coffee, bring a reusable mug or thermos to your favorite coffee shop. If your first cup get poured when you get to the office, use a mug that can be refilled throughout the day, washed, and used again rather than opting for disposable cups.
Earth Day Tip #4. Anne Marie Bonneau, aka the Zero Waste Chef, recommends this healthy tip: “When you cook, you eat more whole foods, which means you eat fewer highly processed foods—the stuff packaged in single-use, throwaway plastic,” she explains. “You also waste less food because you figure out what to do with that extra cup of pasta sauce, that half bell pepper, or leftover parsley from previous meals. This reduces food waste—a major contributor to climate change.”
Earth Day Tip #5. Make reusability one of your top three criteria in any purchase decision. If that’s not an option for the product you’re buying, try to make sure you’re purchasing from brands that are using sustainable materials.
Earth Day Tip #6. Conserve energy by turning off the lights when you leave a room. When your father yelled about the electric bill when you left lights on all over the house, he was also preparing you for a greener life.
Earth Day Tip #7. Run your appliances in the evening when usage is lower and drain on the power grid is less.
Earth Day Tip #8. Reduce your water use in daily tasks like washing dishes and brushing your teeth. It’s simply a matter of changing your habits. If you can do it three days in a row, chances of making this your new habit increase exponentially.
Earth Day Tip #9. Pick up trash when you see it. Need some incentive? Think about the animals who may ingest that trash or be harmed by it. Don’t just brush it off by thinking, “Well, it’s not mine, so why should I pick it up?” If you want to make a difference, just pick it up. If it’s your trash, get it to the bin every single time when you’re at the beach, on a hike, or enjoying any outdoor activity.
Earth Day Tip #10. Recycle. This may seem obvious, but surprisingly, a lot of people still don’t recycle. If your office has recycling containers, use them and encourage others to do the same. You don’t need to preach, just set a great example for others to follow.
Simple things can mean a lot when it comes to protecting and preserving our environment. Start small with these tips and let me know if you have other tips that will help make Earth Day greener on its golden anniversary in 2020.
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