You may already be familiar with Earth Day — this year celebrating its 50th anniversary and commitment to a sustainable planet — and may had already planned how to celebrate and honour it, by honouring Mama Earth or making changes in your home or work environment. Of course, this year things are very different. Like many other events, this year Earth Day is DIGITAL!
EARTH DAY IS EVERY DAY, AND ANYWHERE YOU ARE.
What else is different about Earth Day 2020? Per the EarthDay website:
On Earth day, April 22, 2020, we will face two crises: One is immediate from a pandemic and the other is slowly building as a disaster for our climate.
We can, will, and must solve both challenges. The world was not prepared for a coronavirus. Leaders ignored hard science and delayed critical actions. We still have time to prepare — in every part of the world — for the climate crisis.
EARTHRISE is how we set a new global standard on Earth Day 2020. We must act together to say that global disaster must never happen again; we must not make the same mistakes twice.
Take Action . . . any way you can
This year, consider participating in a virtual on-line event. Check out Earth Day Live for events you can access.
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.
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 . . . but I’m sure you have lots of other great practices and ideas to share !
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.
Support local farmers to reduce the “food miles” involved, bringing food to where you are. And do 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.
Choose not to buy from manufacturers who use excessive packaging.
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.
Swap cling-film, plastic containers and ziploc bags for alternates such as beeswax wraps (unless you’re vegan, of course!), and glass jars or containers for leftovers, for carrying take-away food or your lunch. Metal tiffin boxes (pictured to the right) are a great idea. There are also non-plastic alternatives using materials made from corn or hemp.
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.
Cut down food waste. This was a huge one for me, as I realized we were throwing out a lot of food. Shop for what you need. Sadly, most of the time my waste was items I had stored in the fridge but had forgetten 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. (I did this by necessity when I lived in the UK back in the 80s and 90s, and had the world’s tiniest fridge in my kitchen, barely room in the freezer for a tray of ice cubes. I’m reviving that practice).
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!
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.
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. There are so many to choose from!
For instance, the Pachamama Alliance offers a couple of online courses which may interest you (I’ve done both). These courses are free, or available by a pay-what-you-can donation:
Fight today for a better tomorrow!
This article was originally posted in 2018, but has been updated with new information and some of the inital material has been modified slightly. It does not fully reflect what might be not possible in the pandemic and lockdown that is the current reality for many of us (for instance, no sitting in restaurants or chatting with others at the beach or on a park bench). But, these are things we can do now, and there are many things we can continue or start doing when possible again.