We should always make protecting our environment a priority year-round. But, Earth Day, which falls on April 22nd this year, allows us to have a dedicated day to reflect on how we can better help our world. Since 1970, this special day has been reminding us of the importance of keeping our Earth safe and healthy for generations to come. You might think that finding ways to protect our Earth sounds like Herculean task, but there are tons of things we can do to make a huge difference. From picking up litter during your morning run to planning a clothing swap with your friends, here are seven easy ways to celebrate Earth Day this year.
According to the Keep America Beautiful 2020 National Litter Study, approximately 23.7 billion pieces of litter were found along United States roadways in 2020 alone. Kathleen Rogers, president of EARTHDAY.ORG, suggests “plogging,” or picking up litter during your next jog. “Odds are if you are a runner, you run past dozens of pieces of trash,” she says. “Next time you lace up your running shoes, bring along a small garbage bag and see if you can fill it. It’s a great way to exercise and also make a positive environmental impact.”
Think About Your Diet a.k.a. Your “Foodprint”
Earth Day is a great time to rethink your “foodprint.” “Your foodprint measures the environmental impacts associated with the growing, producing, transporting, and storing of our food,” says Rogers. It includes the natural resources that are consumed to the pollution produced and the greenhouse gasses that are emitted. “Our food system accounts for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, making animal agriculture one of the largest contributors to climate change,” she says. Meat Free Monday, an organization that advocates going meatless at least once per week, offers a handy calculator that provides eye-opening statistics on how going meatless can help the environment. For instance, going meatless one day a week for a year saves 434 miles of greenhouse gasses.
“While we should all be working to reduce our foodprints. There are many factors including access, affordability, health, and culture that help shape our decisions about what we eat. So while certain diets may not be possible to everyone, we can all work to try to reduce our foodprint as best as we can [with small tweaks],” says Rogers.
Reach Out to Your Local Representatives
Spend a few minutes writing to your local representatives about the importance of protecting the environment. “Every elected representative — from a local official to a national leader — should put their constituents’ needs first,” says Rogers. “Tell yours that the health of people and the planet should be the top priority.”
Social media, of course, is also a quick and easy way to spread the word and make a positive impact about climate change. Programs like Earth Day Initiative’s “Do Just 1 Thing” have social post templates that you can use on your feeds and tag your local businesses and public officials to let them know what you care about.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Dr. Erica Dodds, COO of the Foundation for Climate Restoration, recommends celebrating Earth Day by signing up for a monthly subscription with Climeworks to help reduce your carbon footprint. “Climeworks’ monthly subscription permanently removes CO2 from the atmosphere,” says Dodds. Every dollar spent removes about 1kg of CO2. For instance, $50 is equivalent to 1,500 plastic bags. “It’s a simple, impactful, and quantifiable way to reduce your environmental footprint this Earth Day,” she adds.
Have a Clothing Swap with Friends
Revamp your closet this Earth Day by hosting a clothing swap with friends. All you have to do is gather your gentle used clothing that you no longer wear. According to studies, 85% of our clothing and textiles that are thrown away actually end up in landfills or are burned. Something as simple as a clothing swap can help prolong the lives of clothing, therefore keeping them out of landfills. “Mine through your friends’ closets to get the best finds while also saving the planet,” explains Dodds. “Clothing swaps — with a glass of bubbly — is a fun and easy way to spend your Friday night!”
Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
This Earth Day take stock around your house to see which items could be made to be more sustainable. For instance, Camilla Marcus, chef and founder of west~bourne, suggests swapping out paper towels for reusable dish towels. You can also try switching to toxin-free refillable dish soaps and cleaners, such as ones offered by Koala Eco and Blueland. Other common household items, including toilet paper and disposable lunch baggies, can also be substituted with more eco-friendly alternatives such as bamboo-based toilet paper and reusable storage bags. “While these simple swaps initially take some effort, the long-term effects add up and truly make a difference,” she says.
Take a Moment to Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude
Earth Day can also simply be a day where you reflect on how you live and think about ways that you can be more environmentally friendly going forward. “At west~bourne, Earth Day is our state of mind every day,” says Marcus. “There is no planet B and we must care for the environment we live in and the supernatural power of plants that nourish our bodies daily. Practicing mindfulness can keep us in touch with this gratitude and give us the clarity to make simple decisions that make a big difference to the planet,” she says.
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