On Earth Day, it’s one thing to reflect on all the stats about climate change, de-forestation, contaminated water supplies and the gradual disappearance of innumerable species. However, it is easy to get lost in the numbers and when we get lost in the numbers, we can lose perspective of the issues. How can I, one person save the rain forests or clean our waterways? That seems quite daunting. What I think we can all wrap our heads around is that if we all make little changes in our day-to-day activities and purchases we can make a big difference. Here are a few little changes we can all make:
1. Eat less meat!
Currently, animal farming creates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry (cars, airplanes, AND boats). Meat-less Monday is a thing: Adopt it. If you’re feeling adventurous, try Mark Bittman’s VB6 (Vegan Before 6). It’s good for the world and your waistline.
2. Shop local.
Did you know that your food travels on average approximately 1500 miles before landing on your dinner plate? Me neither. Last time I drove over 1500 miles that took 3 fill-ups and I was driving a small SUV. Imagine how much gas that is for a huge semi-truck that is weighed down with tons of food. My imagination tells me that’s a lot of gas. Decrease the distance your food travels by hitting up the farmer’s market and support local businesses.
3. Use public transportation more often.
I realize not all of use live in urban areas where this is most feasible, but if you do, get on it! You don’t have to worry about parking, tolls, or getting pulled over for texting and driving. To my suburban friends: try carpooling. The more the merrier right?
4. Buy cleaning produces without dyes or harsh chemicals.
Believe it or not, all the stuff we wash down our kitchen sinks and showers goes somewhere. That somewhere is rivers, oceans, lakes, and creeks. I’ve switched to some greener cleaning products and honestly they clean just as good. Definitely worth that extra 50 cents.
I’m talking water bottles, shopping bags, lunch boxes, and Tupperware. Reducing the items that we throw away, particularly non-biodegradeable plastics, will decrease the amount of trash sent to landfills.
Two separate bins. Not that hard.
7. Thrift it.
Shopping! That’s fun! Give up the department stores from time to time and hit the secondhand stores. Not only will you find some awesome deals that not everyone and their mom is wearing, but you will also reduce demand for cotton, denim, and silks. The creation of our clothes uses a tremendous amount of water, pesticides, not to mention deplorable labor conditions for many of the workers in the industry.
Take an afternoon and get your hands a little dirty. Soak up the sun and clean up a street, plant a tree in a park, or tidy up our beaches. It’s the perfect time of year to find some outdoor volunteer work. Remember: Good karma.
9. Don’t litter.
I feel like I shouldn’t even have to include this in my list, but the amount of litter I see around the city makes me think otherwise. Hold your Micky D’s bag for the extra 10 feet it takes you to get to a trash cash and stop flicking your cigarette butts where ever your heart desires. While you’re at it you should probably stop smoking.
10. Be conscious.
Don’t just think about the eco-consequences of your actions on Earth Day. Try to remember our planet along with your bottom line and budget through out the year.