Earth Day is not a popular holiday and it's easy to overlook. Just because you forgot the holiday this year doesn't mean you should just promise to do something special next year, like plant a tree. The holiday is merely a day for reflection, not the sole day for action. So here are some simple, convenient ways to help the Earth on a daily basis.
Reuse Disposable Containers
I reuse disposable items all the time. Cheap plastic silverware, paper (coated) plates, milk or juice jugs, zip-lock bags, glass jars: many of these items, despite their one-use intent, can be reused many times.
I bought a glass bottle of Kevita four months ago at a fitness center and I refill it every day with V8 fruit drinks when I head out to work. I reuse a Panera Bread plastic drink container a few times before throwing it out . I reuse V8 jugs for water and home-made lemonade. Pickle jar for hair scrunchies. Little jar for earplugs. Why go out and buy containers when you buy them all the time? Plastic containers should only be used a few times due to leaching chemicals in the plastic. Glass containers can be used indefinitely.
Reusable Shopping Bags
So many plastic shopping bags! How often do we see these things flying around on a windy day and cluttering the shores of lakes? People shop and in turn use these cheap plastic bags for convenience. Sure you can be like many and save the bags under the kitchen sink, but how often do you use these bags afterwards? They tear easily and you'll eventually have to toss them.
Instead, purchase a reusable shopping bag. These cloth/nylon bags can handle heavy items, they look nice, and you'll feel good that you're not contributing to the wasteful habit of bringing home 10 grocery bags.
Even if you bring your reusable bag and still end up having to use plastic, that's one less bag your are contributing. The only downside is you have to remember to bring it along where ever you go.
Paper is becoming less of a concern now that we're moving toward a paperless world. But for those who work in an office, paper is printed and thrown out constantly. Most companies recycle their paper, but they are also buying more of it than necessary, creating a high demand. Why not save the cost of new paper (and lowering the demand for more) by reusing one-sided papers? By printing off the blank side, you are getting double the use of a single piece of paper, reducing your need by half. Afterwards it can then be recycled.
It is usually acceptable to do this with paper that is just going to be tossed within a week. However, companies frown upon reusing paper for professional documents. Also be sure to let your coworkers know when you are going to swipe out clean paper with your recycled paper, as this could create conflict if you don't inform them. And of course, double-sided printing also lowers the need of paper by half.
Remember to Turn Off the Light
This is a no brainer, but when you leave a room remember to turn off the light. It's a complete waste of electricity to leave lights on. Even if you'll be back in five minutes, flip the switch and save money.
The same can be said about leaving your computer on all night or leaving the heat on when you leave for the day. Every bit counts.
Give Your Soil Your Spoils
This might seem gross to some people, but I rarely use my garbage disposal, nor do I throw spoiled food in the trash. If you have a backyard, just give your old casserole back to the earth by dumping it at the far corner of your yard or under a bush. All food is biodegradable, and soil, plants, and tiny critters will appreciate the nourishment.
If you don't have a backyard, you could (on a much smaller scale) do the same for potted plants, or secretly dump it in the bushes of your front lawn. To do otherwise is a waste.
Buy Organic Alternatives
Most cleaning and health products have harmful chemicals that should not be introduced to nature. In addition, most products (Dove, Crest, Clorax, Windex) experiment on animals. There are plenty of organic brands that are healthy, cruelty-free, and don't support these chemical companies.
Tom's of Maine, Kiss My Face, Bert's Bees, Dessert Essence, and YesTo are just a few organic products ranging from deodorant to make-up that are available in most stores, such as Walgreens and Target.
On a side-note, I don't know why Windex exists. It's tested on animals and there are two cheap, great alternatives for it: diluted rubbing alcohol and diluted distilled white vinegar, both great for glass surfaces.
Eat Less Meat
Meat is a touchy subject. More people are becoming vegetarians and vegans as a way to not support the meat industry because of their mistreatment of animals. But did you know the high demand of meat (specifically beef) is also responsible for deforestation?
Cattle ranches need land, and as a result trees have to fall to clear their path.
So if you don't want to support animal cruelty and deforestation, cut down on meat. Perhaps one day a week you can select a veggie alternative for your main course. Here you can find 30 vegan recipes.
These are all small steps. Certainly you can go above and beyond what I've suggested and pick up trash around your neighborhood, recycle, and become a vegan/vegetarian.
People think you have to be an activist or go to extremes in order to protect the Earth, but really it's just being aware of our small day-to-day actions that lead to these collective environmental problems. Spread the word. Happy Earth Day!
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.