You may already be familiar with Earth Day — which last year celebrated 50 years of commitment to a sustainable planet — and may have already planned how you will celebrate and honour it, perhaps by making changes in your home or work environment. This year’s theme is Restore the Earth, and there are many ways that theme can inspire.
Take Action, any way you can
There are so many ways we can commit to sustainability of our planet, and one can become easily overwhelmed by the enormity of what could or should be done.
Focus, instead, on what you can do. . . how you can start to make some (or more) changes in your home and with your family that will reduce your carbon footprint and move you towards sustainability.
This year, consider participating in a virtual on-line event. Check out Earth Day Live for events you can access. If you’re not sure where to start, visit the international Earth Day website or, if in Canada, the Earth Day / Jour de la Terre Canada website, both of which have great suggestions for individuals, families, communities, teachers, etc.
Here are some simple ideas to get you started, and I’m sure you have lots of other great practices and ideas to share !
Support local agriculture and food security
Support local farmers to reduce the “food miles” involved, bringing food to where you are.
Consider growing microgreens, herbs or sprouts. If you are fortunate to have a garden, or access to shared community garden or food forest, begin to grow vegetables.
Support or participate in a community garden or food forest, or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program
Consume consciously, with awareness: Always ask yourself Do I need this? Is there something else I can use instead?
Check out zero-waste organizations in your community. The town or city where you live likely has a website with information on recycling and reducing waste. Facebook is often a great place to start, with on-line groups offering tips such as where you can buy food in bulk using your own containers, swapping and sharing equipment used infrequently, how to make or where to buy eco-friendly products.
Choose not to buy from manufacturers who use excessive packaging.
Reduce or compost food scraps. Our ancestor would use scraps and bones to make stock. I reuse citrus peel by drying and grinding for use in potpourri, cooking, bath salts, etc. I use eggshells in the garden, or clean/dry for a calcium supplement. I use onion skins for natural dyeing. And I don’t peel a lot of veggies! Lots of options!
Cut down food waste. Shop for what you need. I realized our waste was mostly items I had stored in the fridge but had forgotten to label by date, so I ended up throwing it all out because it would likely be risky to eat. Avoid buying huge amounts of food. Shop when you need to.
Say NO to plastic straws. There are many options including glass and metal (I prefer metal because I break things easily!), and you can purchase a straw cleaner at the same time. If these are still legal in your area, lobby your local government to ban them.
I’m sure many will remember the video of the marine biologists removing a straw from a sea turtle’s nose. This video can be disturbing so I am providing the link only rather than embedding into this post. Click here to view.
Say NO to plastic microfibres. Avoid buying or using products with plastic microfibres. Be an informed consumer. This article from Friends of the Earth may be an eye-opener for you.
Bring your own hot or cold beverage cup. Here in Vancouver, and other coffee-loving places, the number of single-use coffee and beverage cups in the trash is huge and unnecessary! When I ride my bike or go for a walk, I bring along a water bottle.
Choose biodegradable / multi-use cups rather than single-use K-cup types in your coffee/beverage maker. I make my coffee and tea in a french press or teapot and compost the grounds. I also use re-usable metal filters for making both tea and coffee.
Use felted dryer balls instead of single-use dryers sheets. Buy or make your own.
Bring your own reusable shopping bags to the market, and carry your own water bottle. I have a cotton mesh bag that can hold an enormous amount of veggies, and cotton canvas bags for holding larger items. And, yes, I carry my metal straw.
Use recycle bins. Most communities have waste / recycle bins organized by type and degradability, such as mixed paper, food containers, etc. Minimize how much goes into the bin, and put it in the right bin. In many communities, it’s estimated that much of what could be recycled by local environmental services isn’t. Why? Because people don’t prepare or sort their waste correctly.
Find a new home for unwanted items. Recycle / donate / pay forward items you no longer use that are in good condition.
Take a bag with you when visiting Nature and “pack out” any waste you see.
Join a community clean-up effort of a local park, beach, river, oceanfront, etc.
Other ways to take action
Many of us are digital nomads / homepreneurs. Click HERE to read 22 ways you can #greenitup in your home office.
There are so many ways we can support sustainabilit. Consider joining local, state / provincial, national or global organizations that support the environment. For instance, some of the organizations that I support include TreeSisters, The Pachamama Alliance, the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace and, in Canada, the Dogwood Initiative. I also make microloans for sustainability and food security to communities worldwide through Kiva.
The Pachamama Alliance offers online courses to “educate, inspire and engage a critical mass of pro-activist leaders who are committed to bringing forth a thriving, just and sustainable world for all”. I’ve completed these two:
Honour and celebrate Mama Earth now, for a better and sustainable tomorrow. “Every day is Earth Day”
This article was originally posted in 2018, but has been updated with new information and some of the initial material has been modified. It does not fully reflect what might be not possible in the pandemic and lockdown that is the current reality for many of us. But, there are things we can do now, and there are many things we can continue or start doing when possible again.