Earth Day will soon be upon us again, and this year, while we emerge out of a long winter—and lockdown—into a burgeoning spring, it’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate all that is alive and beautiful in our natural world.
by Kirsten Lavine
Alongside appreciation, we should also be mindful of our responsibilities to this planet and each of us strive to make positive changes to help improve conditions for all creatures that live upon it. With that in mind, here is a top ten list of ways you can truly honor Earth Day:
1. Go Plant-based
Becoming vegan, or at least eating more plant-based foods, is one of the best things you can do for the planet. Did you know it takes 425 gallons of water to create a ¼ lb. burger? Even following a ‘Meatless Monday’ routine for one year would save over three animals a year per person. So why not try going plant based for at least one day a week?
Aside from the benefits to the environment, eating a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes improves your health and decreases the chances of serious health issues developing. There are so many delicious vegan recipes and resources out there, you may be inspired to go plant-based for even longer.
2. Shop wisely
While out shopping, be mindful of what you’re putting in your basket. Where you can, shop local (and vegan!), check out farmers’ markets, buy foods that are organic or sustainably sourced and in season.
Only buy what you need—buying from bulk food stores is a great way to reduce waste. When you can, bring your own container and, of course, your own reusable shopping bags.
3. Choose eco-friendly cleaning products
When buying cleaning products for the home, choose ones with natural ingredients. Most over-the-counter household cleaners contain harmful chemicals that come in contact with your skin, your clothes and even your pets.
Eco-friendly cleaning products are not only free of harsh chemicals but also not tested on animals, plus you’ll usually recognize the ingredients on the list.
Even better, you can make your own cleaning products, so you always know exactly what’s gone into them, using basic ingredients like vinegar and baking soda—cleaning the old fashioned way!
4. Buy pre-loved gear
Think before you buy. Do you really need it? If so, do you need to buy it new? Buying things second-hand has a very positive social and environmental impact, saving water, resources and energy and reducing carbon emissions used in their production. It also prevents clothing and other items from ending up in landfills or incinerators.
There are so many great ways to get second hand items, through charity shops, thrift stores, garage sales (or even the REI Garage Sale!), clothes swaps and neighborhood online groups. It’s also a great way to find out who’s in your community and even make friends, as well as grabbing an awesome treasure at a fraction of the price.
5. Reduce your plastic use… and paper, too
In 2019, humans produced close to 350 million tons of plastic waste–most of which ended up in landfill, as the majority of plastic is not recycled. The plastic waste ends up in the oceans, poisoning turtles and fish. Even with efforts to intervene, total ocean cleanups are impossible without us significantly reducing our plastic waste.
Instead of a single-use plastic bottle, invest in a refillable one, which will also save you money in the long run. And while you’re at it, why not switch your bills and correspondence to online notifications to reduce paper production and save many trees in the process.
Make sure your food waste is going into the compost bin. Leftover food can be converted into fertilizer, while the gases produced by rotting food can be converted into more natural energy forms, offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels.
The cost of not composting is also quite high. In fact, the impact of U.S. food waste on the environment is greater than that of the airline industry.
If you have a garden, put the compost directly onto the ground. Composting adds nutrients to the soil and encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms, insects and earthworms. Compost will help keep moisture in the soil and encourage healthy growth root for the new plants you have budding forth ready to bloom.
7. Power down
Invest in high-quality light bulbs to make your home more energy efficient and turn lights out when you don’t need them, especially during the day.You can power down your unused appliances, too!
Reducing your energy usage reduces the demand for fossil fuels and, in turn, lowers the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Plus, you’ll save money on your energy bills—definitely a case of seeing the light!
8. Walk, cycle or transit your way to work
Did you know that the average 20-mile per gallon car produces nearly a pound of carbon dioxide for each mile driven? Reducing the amount you drive will help lead to a cleaner environment. Try taking public transit to work or be part of a carpool.
Even better, try walking, cycling or skateboarding—great forms of exercise for your body and the planet, too.
9. Get informed and spread the word
There are many great documentaries to learn about climate change, as well as apps that can help you go green. For additional info, check out sites like Climate Watch, National Geographic and the World Bank’s Climate Knowledge Portal. Once you’re better informed, spread the word!
Invite your friends to a local event and post footage on your social media platforms. There are many ways you can support climate change actions, protests and petitions, while also casting your vote at election time towards parties which support environmental goals.
10. Volunteer at an Earth Day event—and beyond…
There are so many creative initiatives planned for Earth Day—see what your local community is up to. Maybe you can take part in a park cleanup, do some tree planting, or build a bird box or insect hotel. Engage in one activity and be inspired to do more. Every day should be a day for the Earth—where we can improve conditions for our planet, for all of us to live on it together more harmoniously.
For more ideas about how to support the planet, search vKind, which is the U.S.’s largest fully-vegan search platform and listing app—a one-stop shop to find restaurants, products, services, professionals and experience that are all 100% vegan.
When you shop vegan, you know without a doubt that you’re reducing your environmental impact and saving animals while supporting an economic ecosystem that’s changing the world.
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