Thursday, April 19, 2018

3 Ways to Make Earth Day Everyday

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Earth Day is just a few days away – have you decided how you’re pitching in? While the day itself is relatively young – Earth Day was founded in 1970 – it's become increasingly urgent that we observe it daily. Especially as news of climate change, extinction and destruction of natural resources (and shitty, irresponsible decisions made by the current administration) dominates the news. Frankly, there are times when I feel helpless thinking about the planet's current situation (these times typically coincide with scrolling that compendium of Debbie downer news: Facebook). But by taking small steps at home – I feel like I'm at least doing something, you know? Even if I'm not exactly in the position to hop a Greenpeace boat. Today I'm sharing three ways to celebrate Earth Day – on the day itself and in your home daily – with one way to help others, too.

To-do on Earth Day: Organize a beach cleanup
Winter is over? Maybe? Or at least, summer will eventually be here – right? Why not make your local shoreline that much more inviting by gathering some friends and picking up the detritus that has washed ashore over the past several months? Organizing a beach cleanup is an incredibly simple and effective way to make a small dent in the overwhelming amount of plastic clogging our oceans. The World Economic Forum estimates that approximately eight million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. Yes, you read that right. Eight million. A year. This massive amount of plastic poses an enormous threat to wildlife and public health, causing immediate threat to fish and birds that ingest it and possibly contaminating tap water (to name just a couple ways discarded plastic waste affects the earth) – removing at least some of the trash on your local beach, and recycling what you can from that, prevents that waste from causing further harm.

You’ll need: 
  • Protective gloves (choose reusable, washable gloves to minimize waste) 
  • Trash bags (try grabbing two colors, one for trash and one for recycling, or assign people roles) Yourself and/or a group of friends 
  • Want to go the extra mile? Put up a flier at your local coffee shop or make an event page online to help spread the word and widen your network
To-do for your everyday: Say goodbye to plastic
Still relying on single-use plastic baggies and plastic storage containers in your kitchen? Stop. Trust me when I tell you it's insanely easy to make the switch to reusable options, and it'll save you so much money in the end. I even managed the seemingly impossible and broke Chris of his plastic baggie habit. A true Earth Day miracle. Take the day as designated time to finally bid those baggies adieu and send those plastic containers to recycling once and for all. Then, treat yourself and stock up on some glass storage jars for your fridge and pantry (like Weck jars, which are both super pretty and affordable), reusable sandwich bags (these from Blue Avocado), reusable produce bags, and a few totes for groceries if you don’t use them already. Easy right? Also, bonus: No more disorganized Tupperware drawer from hell. Once you’ve said goodbye to single use baggies and containers, take a look at what else in your life you can replace to cut out single-use plastics:
  • Love sipping iced coffee or iced tea from a straw? Invest in a few stainless steel straws to keep at home and carry with you so you can say ‘no’ to plastic straws at takeout and coffee shops. A straw may seem harmless, but over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used daily in the United States alone – with the majority ending up in the trash. Visit the Plastic Pollution Coalition to learn more about straw pollution and more ways to help.
  • Once you’ve replaced your straw habit with a reusable option, it’s time to find a reusable coffee cup. With so many options for hot and cold coffee – like those offered by Hydro Flask, Keep Cup and Corksicle – it’s easy to find a cup that fits your coffee drinking habit. 
  • Looking for more ways to green your grocery routine? Replace those one-and-done produce bags with a reusable option, or make your own from washable, see-through mesh. If you don’t already own a million grocery totes, these totes from Baggu are a fun and – more importantly –washable, option. With more and more US grocery stores hopping on the pay-per-bag bandwagon to cut costs and usage, you’ll be saving your pennies and the planet while you shop.
  • Think you can’t live without plastic wrap or tin foil for food storage? Think again! Along with your shiny new glass containers, there are plenty of ways to eschew plastic cling wrap and tin foil from your life. First, try going without it for a week or two after you’ve replaced your storage containers with glass to see if you really need an alternative. Then, if you really, truly can’t live without something to cover bowls and containers with, try a reusable wrap, like Bees Wrap. If you use tin foil for baking or cooking, replace it with biodegradable parchment paper (you can even bake a potato in parchment, so no excuses) or a reusable Silpat mat – once you say goodbye to these “essentials” you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to live without them. Really – we haven't used plastic wrap in over a year and tin foil in over six months.
To-do for someone else: Volunteer your time
If you’re a pro at all of the above, why not share your skills and teach others what you know? Encouraging others to go green does take tact and gentle coaxing, but if you’ve got the gift of instruction-paired-with-kindness – use it! Ask a friend or family member if they could use a little help sorting through their plastic storage containers or shopping for reusable storage alternatives (you can be really nice here and offer to organize their pantry for them, too). Or plan a fun day of DIY to help someone make their own cleaning products to replace the chemicals under the sink. Love trees? Teach some little ones why trees and plants are important, or offer to help in your local community garden. Spreading the Earth Day love is a great way to extend the virtues of this one day a year that asks us to expressly focus on the planet.

A longer version of this post was originally published here as part of my freelance work for Avocado Green Mattress

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