Celebrate Earth Day by making small yet impactful eco-conscious changes to your lifestyle. Here are five easy eco-friendly ways you can say thanks to Mother Earth this year.
This year, Mr. O and I are celebrating Earth Day by joining a local litter clean-up team for a few hours of road-side trash collection and afterwards attending the annual Earth Day Festival in Forsyth Park here in Savannah, Georgia. Each year, we pick one new eco-friendly habit or practice to add to our lifestyle. This year, we purchased a 2013 Nissan Leaf which is 100% electric-powered. (More to come on that buying decision and how it is impacting our carbon footprint and our budget.) Taking care of your little corner of the world doesn’t mean you have to upend your entire routine. Try one, or all, of these easy eco-friendly ways to celebrate Earth Day.
1. Commit to Going Meatless Monday.
Going vegetarian once a week helps the planet by reducing waste from livestock farming. It requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Studies show that livestock ranching produces significantly more greenhouse gases than farming vegetables, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – the three main contributing sources of greenhouse gas.
If your idea of vegetarian cooking is food that is bland and leaves you feeling hungry, you should visit Meatless Monday’s online recipe archive. The recipes range from Green Apple Almond Porridge to Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers and everything in-between. Their recipes even include detailed nutritional information so you can make sure you are eating a balanced diet.
2. Sign the Petition to Ban the Bag.
Did you know that each year the U.S. uses 84 billion plastic bags? That represents a huge percentage of the total worldwide (currently estimated at 500 billion). They are not biodegradable, and are making their way into our oceans, harming wildlife and creating toxic environments.
Now for the good news. We can work together to protect our lakes, rivers, oceans, wildlife and reduce the growth of landfills in our country by taking action. First, check out this post for information on researching current environmental legislation in your hometown. Then sign the Green Peace Plastic Bag Ban Petition to show your support.
3. Choose to Refuse Single-Use Plastics.
While we’re on the subject of all of that plastic clogging up our oceans, lakes and rivers, let’s talk about another main source of senseless pollution – single-use plastics. According to EcoWatch, enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times.
Single-use plastic comes in many forms – packaging, straws, cups and lids, bags, to-go containers, and my least favorite – plastic water bottles. What can you do, you say? You can purchase and use a refillable water bottle, stop using straws or bring your own bamboo or stainless steel straw with you, stop using disposable sandwich bags and purchase paper or reusable silicone sandwich bags instead, buy in bulk, buy from brands that use plastic-free packaging…the list goes on and on.
Each year, we take part in the Plastic Free July Challenge. Take the 2018 pledge here. We also use post-consumer recycled kraft paper packaging for almost all of our products (we do use non-toxic recyclable PEVA packaging for our shower curtain hooks.)
4. Plant a Pollinator Garden for Bees, Butterflies and Other Beneficial Insects.
Bees pollinate one third of the global food supply and for the past fifty years, their colonies have been dying out at an alarming rate thanks to increased homogenization of food crops and the use of pesticides like neonicotinoids.
Back in 2016, I brought home a few seemingly innocuous flowering perennial plants from a major chain home store to add a little color to our yard and I found a little surprise…A tag that told me my flowers were treated with neonicotinoids to protect them from “problematic pests”. After a quick search online, I learned that neonicotinoids are highly toxic to all bees and the increased use of this class of pesticides can be directly correlated to the massive hive deaths we have seen in the past several years.
According to biologist Marla Spivak in her talk at TEDGlobal 2013, “Every one of you out there can help bees in two very direct and easy ways. Plant bee-friendly flowers, and don’t contaminate these flowers, this bee food, with pesticides.” This is exactly what we have done at our home since finding that tiny plant tag. If you would like to learn how easy it is to provide a pesticide-free food source for native bees AND a beautiful landscape for your home, start here to read about how we’re doing it.
5. Ditch the Toxic Cleaners. Make Your Own at Home.
Did you know that manufacturers of cleaning products are not legally required to list all of their ingredients on the bottle? For instance, if you use pine cleaners, you probably don’t know that one of the primary ingredients is a chemical named Toulene. This chemical has been linked to birth defects, hormonal imbalances, complications with pregnancies and some types of cancer.
Most people don’t realize just how effective simple ingredients like white distilled vinegar and baking soda are at cleaning and disinfecting. A quick search on Pinterest will yield hundreds of recipes for DIY non-toxic household cleaners or you can purchase clean products made by eco-conscious companies like Norwex. We use diluted vinegar and baking soda for cleaning everything from floors to preventing mold and mildew formation on our shower curtain liner. We even make home-made pine cleaner for shining up wood surfaces. Learn how to do it yourself here.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Earth Day, remember that every little bit helps. Keep doing good green things!