The bush fires in Australia. The floating island of trash in the Pacific Ocean. Mountains of trash scattered all over the globe… perhaps in your own backyard. No matter where you might stand on the political issues or being eco-friendly, one this is absolutely certain: We all must share this small planet called Earth.
Every year, many people around the world celebrate April 22 as Earth Day. It is the day when special emphasis is placed on how we can take better care of our planet. Many of us will remember public service announcements about planting trees and the catchy phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle”. Throughout my middle and high school years, I looked forward to Earth Day presentations, sustainability resources, and eco-friendly activities.
I have always been fascinated with this beautiful place we have the privilege of calling “home” and how we — especially me — can do a better job taking care of it.
That said, though Earth Day is the day to globally recognize the need for taking care of our environment, we should not be thinking about this important topic only once a year.
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There are many simple ways we can cherish this Earth on which we live. Here are just a few:
1. Use less electricity
The majority of electricity is created using high-pollution methods or non-renewable sources. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration, only 11% of US energy consumption came from renewable sources in 2018.
You can help at home by reducing your electricity usage. Turn off lights when not in use. Consider replacing bathroom, closet and switches in other areas that are often forgotten with motion-sensor switches.
If it is available in your area and within your budget, consider opting in to your electric companies’ renewable energy plans (where a portion of your electricity comes from renewable sources). Or look into using solar panels to reduce the amount of energy you need from the power grid.
2. Use native plants and vegetation
When possible, decorate your yard with plants/trees native to your area. These plants are accustom to the seasons, climate, weather, etc. where you live. Maintaining local vegetation usually requires less water and less chemicals to flourish.
Also consider planting a bee and butterfly garden. Studies show that the populations of these very important pollinators are declining, and we need them to pollinate plants, including the foods we need to survive.
Recycle! A lot of us grew up learning about recycling. Many cities and towns are now offering recycling pick-up along with the weekly trash pick up or have recycling centers where you can drop your recycling off. Many apartment complexes now offer recycling bins as well.
It is far easier to recycle today than it was years ago. However, not everything can be recycled. Recent reports have show how many affluent nations have merely been shipping their “recyclable” waste overseas to be dumped in other countries. This egregious. We need to be more responsible.
Be sure you know the rules for your town or recycling center and please recycle only those items that they can effectively recycle.
Not sure what you can recycle? Check out this list of items to get you started!
4. Use alternate transportation
Some of us live in rural areas where there may not be a public transportation option and walking somewhere would take hours. Some of us live in cities where we are able to walk, bike, or use public transportation. You know your situation best but when possible, use alternate eco-friendly transportation such as carpool, bike, walk, or public transit.
If you are able to (again, every family is different), consider becoming a single vehicle family. You might find yourself saving money on gas, car maintenance, and parking fees.
5. Decrease food waste
Evaluate how much food waste you and/or your family generate and consider methods you can implement to decrease the amount of food you throw away. Perhaps you need to buy less at a time but shop more frequently so all fresh foods are consumed before they go bad.
Also consider how your food is stored. I have learned from personal experience that food spoils at different rates depending upon where you live. Altitude, climate, etc. all play a role. In one place, bread might stay fresh in a bread box on the counter for a week. In another place, it may spoil in three days unless refrigerated.
For deposing of food waste, consider giving still viable foods to animals/pets (only those that are not harmful to the animals) and start a compost pile to help nourish your yard and garden.
6. Avoid single-use plastics
Plastic shopping bags. Single-use lids and straws. Plastic forks, spoons, and knives. Disposable plates. Plastic bottles of water. Single use plastics, marketed as “convenient”, have completely dominated our modern lives. Now they are wrecking havoc on our world by clogging our oceans, harming the wildlife, and leeching toxins into food and water sources.
Wherever possible, consider switching to reusable options. Take your own cloth shopping bags and totes to the store. Use beeswax infused cloths instead of plastic bags and saran wrap. Carry your own stainless steel straw and take your own silverware to work. Get a reusable coffee cup or glass water bottle.
7. Use eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper.
You know that fancy, glossy wrapping paper we all love to use at birthdays, Christmas, and other gift-giving celebrations? Most people don’t know that the shiny, glossy paper with fun images cannot be recycled.
Instead, why not give your presents in re-used gift bags, wrapped in newspaper, folded in cloth, or in nice glass jars. Here are some more eco-friendly alternatives for your wrapping needs!
8. Try reusable cloth and hygiene products
The year is 2020 and old-school is back in fashion. Paper napkins? So last decade. Cloth napkins are softer, washable, and available in a wide variety of fabrics, colors, and sizes.
Following that same train of thought, if your lifestyle can accommodate it, try cloth diapers for your little one. No pins needed with these snap closures, and they are adjustable to fit snuggly as your baby grows. Need extra coverage? Grab a set of absorbent bamboo inserts.
Cloth diapering not your thing? Opt for disposable diapers that are biodegradable, like Andy Pandy. Unlike traditional disposables, these diapers are free of chemicals that are harmful to your baby and the environment.
Ladies, many of us have our own monthly struggle with disposable hygiene products. Fortunately, there is a wide variety options available today and with a little experimenting, you can find the right product for your needs. There are silicone menstrual cups, cloth pads, and even period panties.
9. Explore new sustainable products
We are at an exciting point in history where knowledge of the importance of sustainability and the ability for everyday people to participate in tangible ways have converged. If you want to switch to more environmentally-friendly products used in your home but don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend signing up for an EarthLove Box.
EarthLove is an eco-friendly lifestyle subscription box to make living sustainably and healing the planet easier. They source products that are ethically and environmentally responsible, including zero waste packaging, natural ingredients, organic and non-GMO, gluten-free, cruelty-free, beegan/vegan, and fair-trade.
As a bonus, Earthlove also supports artisans and small businesses in the US and Canada. Subscription boxes are shipped once a quarter on the 15th of March, June, September, and December.
It is a great way to try eco-friendly products and broaden your awareness of earth-friendly companies. Sign up now before the next box is mailed out!
Being eco-friendly means making greener choices
There are many more ways, often very simple things that will make our lives easier, to do our part in cherishing our home. We all must share this small planet called Earth, not only with one another but with all of God’s creatures.We all must share this small planet called Earth. Don't wait another day. Lets make greener choices now. Click To Tweet
Contrary to many greedy opinions, we are not the owners of this earth. We cannot just do whatever we want with the land, animals, and natural resources. Human beings are merely stewards, caretakers if you will, and we can either be bad, greedy stewards that destroy or we can be good, caring stewards that nurture and protect.
We don’t have to wait for the next Earth Day. Let’s do our part now.
Want to make your home more “green”? Here are even more resources:
40 Tips to Go Green at Home
Let’s Celebrate the Environment
Go Grean: Eco-Friendly Products We Should All Be Using