How did you spend Earth Day? Perhaps you planted a tree, picked up litter, reduced your energy use for the day, or all of the above and more. Mother Nature thanks you! But why stop saving the planet on April 23? In our eyes, every day should be Earth Day. Don’t let all that good energy from the past week fizzle out. Keep the Earth Day momentum going with environmentally friendly tweaks to your daily routine!
It may seem inconvenient, but unplugging electronics (or turning off the power strip) when possible makes a huge difference in energy usage. Appliances plugged in are always using a little bit of power, even when you aren’t using them. It’s time to cut those electricity vampires off for good!
Paying bills has become quick and easy with the aid of computers, so why do we still have paper bills cluttering up our space? Thankfully, many companies use paperless billing. Instead of receiving useless paper in the mail, you can opt to receive email reminders to pay bills electronically.
When you throw organic material — think banana peels, yard trimmings, and coffee grounds — in the trash, it heads to a landfill where it breaks down and produces methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is up to 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide. By composting your food waste rather than throwing it away, you can reduce methane emissions. If you don’t have room for your own compost pile, see if your municipal garbage program offers pickup for commercial composting. There are also a variety of composters that fit in small spaces on the market.
At the Store
By now you probably know that those plastic bags that hold your purchases are bad for the planet. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade. They can take 500 (or more) years to break down into small, toxic microplastics. And while they do that, they’re likely sitting in landfills, littering landscapes, or polluting the ocean. The solution is simple: Bring your own reusable bags when you shop, or simply go without a bag if you have a light enough load.
When we buy produce in January, it doesn’t faze us to see aisles bursting with tropical fruits and summer vegetables. Have you stopped to think about where this produce came from? If you live in an area with a fluctuating climate, you likely don’t have perfectly ripe local fruits and veggies year-round. The produce you see in the grocery store is often from all around the world, having traveled thousands of miles before reaching your plate. This idea is referred to as “food miles,” and fewer is better when it comes to the health of the environment. Plan to eat with the seasons and fill your plate with more local food this year.
In the Bathroom
Shorten Your Shower
It’s easy to spend way too much time in the shower, especially first thing in the morning. But hot, leisurely showers are enlarging your carbon footprint — you’re wasting water and using energy to maintain the perfect temperature. Consider reducing the amount of time you spend rinsing off to save water and energy. On average, Americans take eight-minute showers. We challenge you to shorten yours to five minutes or less. Set a timer to see how you match up!
Turn Off the Tap
The next time you turn on the faucet to brush your pearly whites, think about the planet. Earth is 72% water, of which 3% is freshwater, of which 1% is available to humans. That’s not a lot. With a growing population in need of precious resources like water, conservation is essential. And it’s easy for you to help! Simply turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or cleansing your face.
There’s a wide variety of hygiene products out there — special shampoos, fragrant soaps, powerful toothpaste, and more. Sadly, these products are often filled with harmful chemicals that can contaminate our bodies, drinking water, and aquatic ecosystems when rinsed down the drain. To avoid this, stick to personal care products that are natural and organic. Use this guide on natural skin care products. To go even greener, you can DIY personal care products for kids, men, and women.
On the Go
Switch to Reusable
Grabbing a coffee before work? Bring your own travel mug to fill up instead of using a paper cup that you’ll later toss in the trash. Many businesses even offer a discount if you use your own!
Driving gas-fueled, CO2-emitting vehicles dirties our air and is a major cause of poor human and environmental health across the globe. To better the environment, find alternative ways to get from point A to point B. Walk, bike, or even roller-skate when you run errands or head to work. If driving is a must, take public transportation or carpool to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions.
Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock. Originally published on April 25, 2017, this article was updated in April 2021.