This year, we celebrate Earth Day on Thursday, April 22nd. While it’s good to take one day a year to focus on Mother Earth, we should be taking steps to protect our planet every day. Each of us can make small changes that have a significant impact.
Check with your local township about their recycling guidelines. Believe it or not, recycling can be confusing. Ever notice those numbers inside the recycling symbol and wonder what they mean? They refer to types of plastics and help recycling facilities sort and process. Always check labels to make sure they are accepted. It’s also a good idea to separate caps and sleeves. For example, a soda bottle and lid should be separated and not processed together. Tip – #1 and #2 type plastics are the most commonly accepted.
Most places accept clean cardboard (no cheesy pizza boxes) and aluminum (no sharp edges). Unfortunately, due to high processing costs, recycling companies are increasingly not accepting glass.
Upcycling is reusing an item (or part of it) to create something else. Many things, such as empty toilet paper rolls, can be upcycled for craft projects. You can use extra or scrap wood to make an endless amount of products like shelves, coasters, and containers.
It’s easier to eat local in the spring and summer. Your garden, farmers’ markets, and CSA’s (community supported agriculture) are good options. Check out the guides to our cities’ farmers markets.
It’s still feasible to eat local in the fall and winter. Many CSA’s have winter share options. Another idea is to get to know the farmers market vendors and ask how you can support them after the season. Some larger farms have storefronts you can visit year-round, and others partner with local grocery stores to stock their food.
Aim for 1-2 Meatless Days per Week
Reducing your meat consumption is good for the environment. We’re not here to tell you to go vegetarian/vegan or to get into any debate. If you want to read up on the science, there’s a ton of information out there. But if you’ve been wanting to implement more plant-based eating habits, going meatless 1-2 days per week is achievable. Who knows, you might find some delicious recipes and new foods to love!
Compost Kitchen Scraps
Americans produce over 2 billion tons of food scraps each year.* Composting plant-based food waste is an easy way to keep it out of landfills. Bonus – it’s good for your soil! For easy composting, keep a small pail in your kitchen for food scraps. Here’s one you can find at your local Target. Once your bucket is full, take it outside to a bigger compost bin. Here’s an easy and cheap DIY option that we’ve done and love. Wondering what’s compostable?*
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Paper Towels
- Tea Bags
- Coffee Grounds and Filters
- Nut Shells
Turn off Water & Lights
This one’s easy – turn off water and lights when not in use.
- Try to take shorter showers
- Only run the dishwasher when it’s full
- Use the cold cycle on your washing machine
- Turn the water off while brushing your teeth
- Unplug small appliances and electronics when not in use
- Turn off the lights when you leave the room
- Repair leaks as soon as they start
- Install a low-flow showerhead
- Switch out your lightbulbs to energy-efficient LEDs
Make the Swap with Reusables
The good news is, there are several options when it comes to reusable products. Therefore, it’s easy to make some simple swaps.
- Plastic bags → Reusable bags
- Paper towels → Bamboo towels
- Ziploc bags → Silicone bags, like Stasher
- Plastic water bottle → Glass, stainless steel, or BPA-free plastic
Shopping at consignment and thrift stores is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Many thrift stores are affiliated with a charitable cause. When you shop at local consignment stores, you’re helping both the small business owner and the consignor make some money. On the flip side, it’s wise to sell your gently used clothing and items to consignment stores. Doing so allows you to make some money and give your things a new life. Here are some great online options.
Donate Unwanted Things
We agree that some things need to go in the trash. They’ve lived a life, served a purpose, and it’s time to say goodbye. But consider items that can get more use. Those old sheets and towels you were going to throw away? Donate them to your local animal shelter. Home goods you no longer use? Donate to a local charity or thrift store.
Plant a Tree
Would it be an Earth Day blog post if we didn’t tell you to plant a tree? Obviously, this isn’t something you do daily. But Earth Day is an excellent time to plant a tree. Make an event out of it and invite family members to help.
This past year taught us to go outside and appreciate nature. We hope you take some time this Earth Day to celebrate and protect our beautiful planet.
*Source: Behrens Metalware. This information was taken from the handout included with composting pail purchase.