Earth Day Every Day: 5 Easy Ways You Can Save The Earth
Monday this week was Earth Day, but I think it should be every day! I mean, it’s the only planet we have, and we always only have TODAY, am I right?! Besides, it’s been made abundantly clear in the past few years that we’re slowly killing her and the older I get, the more I realize how my everyday actions have an effect on the planet around me. [And if that comes off as arrogant or self-important to you, then there’s a limiting belief for you to work through 😉] Single-use plastics, straws, shopping bags… These are all things that we have control over and we can do better. It is a choice to use these things, or not! So, without further ado, here is a short and sweet list of 5 easy ways you too can be more conscious and intentional with your daily eco-impact.
1) STOP using single-use plastics
There. I said it. And it’s arguably the most important thing on this list, which is why it’s number ONE. It’s not a secret that plastics are filling our oceans, decimating natural habitats, and killing off wildlife. This is something we have ALL the control over. Say no to that plastic grocery bag. Refuse that straw. Bring a Joanna-Gaines-approved mason jar in your purse to dinner for your leftovers. Guys, it’s 2019… as a responsible, contributing member of society, you should own re-usable water bottles/coffee thermos’, grocery bags, metal or glass straws (or refuse them altogether – wrinkles exist), glass Tupperware, and re-usable or biodegradable utensils for packed meals. I still work as a nurse, so having glass Tupperware and a set of metal flatware to bring with me to work has been SUCH an easy shift – I’ve been doing it for years now! I don’t even think about it as a part of my meal-prep anymore. And, not only is it environmentally conscious, but plastic has been proven to leach into your food when heated, so it’s just good for your overall health. Plus, you save money. Win-win-win. I have also found, if you are someone who has made these small changes to your daily consumptive routine but your family hasn’t, that all of these items make excellent birthday gifts or stocking stuffers. Done. You’re basically Captain Planet Santa.
2) Buy Local
This is something I have come to absolutely relish. Maybe it’s because I live in Colorado that I have access to an abundance of super-cool sh*t, but regardless, we all vote with our dollar. Buy purchasing foods, goods, and services locally, you support small business owners AND decrease the overall carbon footprint of the items being purchased (they don’t have to travel to you - get it?!) Farmer’s markets are EXCELLENT resources and attending them has become a summer ritual for my wife and me. We love eating all the local fresh produce, buying hand-poured candles, and I may have even cultivated a *small* jam obsession (zero regrets). Local restaurants have also become a favorite of ours. Like, why would I regularly go to a Chili’s in a strip center, with mass-produced, previously frozen, GMO-saturated food-like meals for dinner, when I can hit up an insta-worthy, local spot with organic food from farms around the area? Now, I realize that it is a privilege to be able to pick and choose where I spend my money when going out to dinner, but it’s a choice we all make when spending money on food in general. If going out to eat is not always in your budget, hit up a farmer’s market, co-op, or even Sprouts, because I can guarantee a basket full of locally grown vegetables is going to be cheaper than McDonald’s for 3 meals, 7 days a week. You could even grow your own food! I haven’t personally tried this yet, but I hear it’s a possibility. Last year, I filled a 2lb bag (reusable, that I brought with me) of vegetables every week at the farmer’s market for $10 and it fed us for the entire week. It’s an easy choice we are all capable of making, albeit not without a little more enthusiasm.
3) Second-hand gold
We all know that appropriate recycling is a big thing you can do for the planet, especially coupled with refusing single-use plastics. This is not news. I wrote recently, however, about how much I love ethically and sustainably made clothing, and I realize this is not in everyone’s budget. But, did you know that garments make up the majority of all waste created? And that the average garment is worn maybe 1-3 times and doesn’t even last a year? Think about what you wear. It can take hundreds of years, maybe thousands, for a single pair of poorly fitting, synthetically made pants, that you wore to Halloween one year as Mick Jagger, lifetimes ago, to break down in a landfill. What you do matters. Donate what you don’t wear anymore and consider buying second-hand for something new to freshen up your look. Besides, thrifting is in, haven’t you heard? Macklemore even wrote a song about it. With apps like Poshmark and ThredUp, on phones available to most of us now, we really don’t have an excuse to be frivolous anymore.
4) Eat those plants, bay-bay
Admittedly, this tends to be the hardest thing for some people to subscribe to (insert your limiting beliefs here). Yes, we all know that it’s good for our bodies to eat fruits and vegetables, despite the harmful diet culture that has been perpetuated around the notion. WE GET IT. However, agricultural waste contributes to approximately SEVENTY PERCENT of greenhouse gases and pollution created. This number should shock you, and I can almost guarantee that you won’t hear about it on Fox News. Not only is the mainstream agricultural industry inhumane, in most cases, for the animals involved, but it’s also suffocating our earth. We need oxygen. We need plant life. Plants make oxygen. It’s called photosynthesis. This is 4th grade science people. Global warming is killing the natural environment that allows us to breathe effectively. Buy eating less meat (or none – go crazy!) and animal products, you directly lessen your impact on the planet. I’m not saying you have to go cold-turkey and quit meat altogether forever (though you certainly can) - “Meatless Mondays” is a thing for a reason y’all, not just some hippie-vegan-PETA-fueled-nonsense, and I stand by it. Plus, it is sooo much cheaper to buy a cart full of fruits and vegetables. Your body, the earth, and your bank account will thank you. If you have trouble sorting through complicated vegan recipes on Pinterest with meat substitutes (which are not a necessity – google protein myths), because this was definitely a barrier I had last year when switching to a mostly plant-based diet, I suggest trying a meal-delivery service, like Purple Carrot, for a little while to get some experience under your belt, or check out resources like The Minimalist Baker. The support you need is out there if you search for it and it doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. Think simple.
5) Shut that water OFF
Lastly, and probably the easiest thing on this list, is being intentional with your water consumption. I didn’t realize just how much water we were wasting until we placed a water-pressure valve on our 71-year-old plumbing, and it’s embarrassing quite frankly. Yes, showering has been an adjustment because it’s no longer also a massage, but my god was it an eye-opener. And, come to find out, you actually need less water than you think to accomplish daily hygienic things. Start small! Turn the water off while brushing your teeth or washing your face. If you have a newer dishwasher, load that instead of hand washing because studies have shown that dishwashers are more efficient with their water usage than our hands. Fill your washing machine to the brim with clothes to get the most out of your loads (side note: making clothing also uses a TON more water than you think, refer back to #3 for importance). The steps are small and easily incorporated into your daily routine, all you have to do is become conscious of it! I think even Hollister sold a shirt in the early 2000’s that said, “Save Water, shower with someone.” If Hollister can get it, sexual innuendo aside, so can you.
They say it takes approximately 21 days to create a habit, so what are you waiting for? Start TODAY. These are 5 easy and simple ways I have personally intentionally incorporated into my everyday life to lessen my carbon footprint, and I hope you are empowered to do the same. Everything that every single one of us does while on this planet can make a difference… Don’t sell yourself short.