happy earth day, friends!
did you know that today, april 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of the first “official” earth day?
(although, if you ask me, EVERYDAY IS EARTH DAY am i right?!?!?)
anywho, as you may know, things are looking a little different this year thanks to, you know, a global pandemic. it feels weird and conflicting to be celebrating victories in the natural world at the expense of such devastating losses.
- cities with the highest rates of pollution are reporting the best air quality in years
- closed factories, fewer cars on the roads, and less air travel means lower carbon emissions
- land animals are roaming free on streets once crowded with tourists
- ocean waters are calmer and quieter which is great for marine life
- single-use waste from cancelled parades, festivals, and conventions is being eliminated
…but on the other hand:
- single-use waste—from the medical industry to people opting for more wrapped/sealed/pre-packaged items—is at a high
- global food waste numbers are up (as is food insecurity)
- local green policies are on a hiatus ie: new york city has halted its compost collection and drop-off, e-waste recycling, and clothing recycling programs
- and, honestly, focusing on ways to lower my daily carbon footprint has taken a backseat as I spend more of my energy and time lately trying not to completely spiral outwards
so what to do? what do to? what to do?
then, I realized that there was one way to celebrate earth day that felt particularly fitting in light of everything going on.
I mean…it’s easy! free! you don’t even have to get out of bed (lol, because I haven’t…)!
ready for this epic earth-saving hack of all hacks?
just do what you can ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
awww, I know. it’s uber cheesy. but I stand by it.
it’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned since consciously starting a low-waste lifestyle three years ago.
hey! maybe you (actually) start recycling today. maybe you decide to kick off meatless mondays at home. maybe you donate $5 (or $50) to an environmental cause you care about.
whatever it is, doing what you can with whatever you have can be a powerful thing. there is always going to be room for improvement, but nobody gets there overnight.
moreover, being “more eco-friendly” is going to look different for everyone depending on where you live, who you live with, what you do for work, and what you have access to.
so don’t worry about those eco-bloggers who tell you that your trash needs to fit inside a mason jar. ignore the angry vegans who shame your carnivorous diet.
you do you, honey boo.
all that said, in honor of earth day’s 50th year, I thought I’d share a list of 50 simple ways to give back to the planet today (or any day. or maybe everyday?!). if you’re in need of some eco-inspo lately, give it a gander. and if you’re more “nah, I really just need to take care of myself right now” -— that’s totally cool, too. xx
~ 50 wonderful ways to give mother earth a little TLC ~
- plant something — a tree, an herb, a vegetable, anything you like
- eat plant-based for a meal, a day, a week, or for life (I love minimalist baker, izy hossack, and east meets kitchen for trying out plant-based eats)
- turn off lights when you leave the room
- unplug your devices when you’re not using them
- time your showers…and shorten them
- switch to shampoo bars and save so much plastic without even thinking (I’ve been using and loving these)
- switch to bamboo toothbrushes because ditto on saving plastic in a cinch (these are my go-to)
- swap in clean beauty products — and know which brands are are actually green, and which ones are greenwashing (I wrote about some of my favorites here!)
- bike, walk, or take public transit when you can
- bring your own bag to the store (I like to keep a few spare totes by the doorway, and fold one up in my purse)
- bring your own cup to a cafe or take your order “to stay” (such an indulgence sometimes right?)
- mend or fix broken items before you buy new ones
- choose secondhand if you need to buy something and secondhand is an option
- think of ways to reuse common household items before you toss them out (cans as planters! jars for shaking up dressings and storing sauces! boxes for cardboard cities!)
- learn how to recycle better — what can and can’t be recycled varies widely by state so see what your town allows before you toss things into the bin (otherwise, they could end up in the trash)
- give “greener” gifts: consider handmade treats, fresh baked sweets, and one-of-a-kind experiences
- join a community swap group (I love my buy nothing group; see if there is one near you and/or learn how you can start one)
- host a clothing swap and keep more textile waste out of landfills woo! (I’ve also shared some tips on this here)
- opt for closet items that last over fast fashion buys, when you can
- swap in cloth napkins and towels around the kitchen instead of using paper ones
- wash your clothes in cold water and hang-dry them if that’s available to you
- support eco-minded businesses if you are going to buy new products (for starters, check out these guys for some great brands)
- shop local to keep your dollars in your neighborhood and help cut on importing costs (farmers’ markets are wonderful if you have them!)
- shop certified organic when it’s available to you (hooray no harmful pesticides)
- shop fair trade when it’s available to you (hooray people being treated kindly for working)
- buy in bulk to save on trips to the store and skip out on excess packaging
- use cloth bags for produce — they’re also great for the bulk stores (I love these, but you can definitely DIY them if you’re feeling oh-sew-savvy)
- look for food packed in glass or paper over plastic, if you can
- save rubber bands, twist-ties, and netted bags — you can use them for crafting, organizing, or gardening
- switch to castile soap — it’s all-purpose, all-natural, and great for washing everything from hands and hair to dishes and veggies
- switch to reusable water bottles over single-use ones
- swap in plastic-free kitchen storage (I love bee’s wraps in place of plastic wrap; I also store leftovers in jars and glass or stainless steel tupperware…and sometimes use upside-down plates as lids tbh)
- recycle your aluminum foil — as long as it’s clean, most foil can be scrunched up and recycled with other metals
- try charcoal water filters over the chunky plastic ones
- learn how to store your produce properly — to avoid chucking out food that’s gone bad before you were ready to use it
- rethink your food scraps — (I love this book as an introduction, and this book if you’re feeling fancy)
- make scrap stock by saving (washed!) onion peels, garlic knobs, celery ends, and carrot scraps, then boiling them with herbs before straining (v easy, I promise)
- talk to (your) kids about sustainability — I know it looks like I’m spamming you with bylines at this point, but this is something I do care deeply about and have talked to some very wise eco-conscious parents for here)
- take a nature walk — the most scenic option on this list
- support your community garden by volunteering or donating
- visit or volunteer at a local farm (I went WWOOF-ing two summers ago in maine and will never look at our food system the same way again. I have also been fortunate enough to visit stone barns, and meet yemi of oko farms and would highly recommend checking out the cool happenings at both)
- if you’re traveling, learn how you can make it more sustainable (you bet I wrote about some tips on doing that here)
- start composting — in your home, if you have the room and resources, or in your community, if there’s a local garden or market that collects
- watch an eco-documentary (I’d recommend a plastic ocean, wasted! the story of food waste, and the biggest little farm which is not in-your-face environmental, but a lovely story about respecting nature’s wildly harmonious processes. honestly, just watching blue planet makes me want to be a marine biologist.)
- stay up-to-date on current environmental happenings — the NRDC, Nat Geo, and Civil Eats are some of my favorite go-to online resources
- read about the sustainability movement — if you’re looking for book reccs, goodreads has a list with plenty to choose from
- donate to environmental orgs -— I love this great starter list by Vox with ways you can donate your time and talents, too
- go vote (seriously, vote. the league of conservation voters is an awesome resource for learning more about where your representatives stand on green issues)
- tell a friend about a habit you want to change and BAM! you’ve just doubled your impact 🙂
- take a deep breath and a moment of thanks for our earth and everything it gives you
(feature photo credit: henry be)