Although Earth Day is April 22, our one and only planet should be cherished 365 per year. Teaching your children how to be environmentally conscious from a young age will not only help the planet now but as they grow up and have children of their own. It can also motivate you to maintain Earth-friendly habits!
Being conscientious of water use can help conserve one of Earth’s most important natural resources. On average, an American family uses over 300 gallons of water every day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Easy ways to reduce your family’s water use are not leaving the water running when brushing your teeth, taking a shower instead of a bath, and only washing full loads of laundry. Also, look for the ENERGY STAR symbol when shopping for new appliances; these use less water than regular appliances.
Reuse Grocery Bags
Switching from plastic grocery bags to reusable totes significantly decreases land and ocean pollution; one reusable bag saves about 125 plastic bags each year, according to a life cycle assessment reported by the National Environment Agency.
According to Environmental America, “Americans use more than 100 billion plastic bags each year, more than 300 bags per person per year.” Although plastic bags are recyclable, these bags typically end up as waste and never biodegrade, according to National Geographic. A helpful habit is to keep recyclable grocery bags in the trunk of your car, so you always have them ready for a shopping trip!
Ditch the plastic bottles
Like plastic grocery bags, plastic water bottles are not biodegradable and takea very long time to break down. “Plastic bottles take 450 years to break down into tiny microplastic (that still pollutes and leaches toxins). In a landfill, plastic can take up to 1,000 years to break down,” according to the website theonemovement. co. Although these bottles can be recycled, ditching plastic all together can make a bigger difference. Plastic bottles that end up in the ocean break down into microplastics and harm sea life, according to the World Wildlife Fund. This makes using a reusable water bottle even more important!
Of course, recycling can help save the planet. The EPA reported that recycled items “are sorted, cleaned of contaminants, and prepared for transport to a milling facility or directly to a manufacturing facility,” reducing the amount of trash that ends up in landfills.
Taking time to separate recyclable items from trash will reduce pollution, conserve energy and conserve natural resources, according to Stanford University. Even minimal recycling can make a difference. USA Today reported that 295 million new aluminum cans can be made if everyone recycled just one can, according to 2017 Aluminum Association data.
Stop Using Dryer Sheets
Although everyone hates when their fresh, warm clothes have static cling, eliminating dryer sheets from your laundry routine can help save the environment. Instead of throwing a dryer sheet away every time you do a load of laundry, use wool dryer balls instead. They have the same effect, are hypoallergenic and last for over 1,000 loads, according to the website greenlivingdetective.com.
Buying second-hand is a great way to reduce, reuse and recycle. Goodwill reported that thrifting leads to less resource consumption, less waste and less pollution. Thrifting is a way to avoid contributing to the increased demand for new products, which means less factory production and less pollution. The UN reported that the fashion industry contributes between 2% and 8% of the world’s carbon emissions and is the second largest water consumer, so thrifting can certainly help make a difference.
Get Your Steps In
If you live in a walkable area, choosing not to hop in the car every time you need to go somewhere can make a difference. The EPA reported that everyone walking to places less than one mile away would save about two million tons of CO2 emissions per year. That’s the same as removing 400,000 cars from the road!
Grow your own produce
As with buying locally, growing your own fruits and veggies reduces greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and these gases contribute to global warming, according to the EPA. Creating your own sustainable garden can help limit climate change because it reduces the need for harmful agricultural processes such as cutting down forests for farmland which produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, according to the UN. Plus, having your own garden makes for cute landscaping.
Composting is the process of turning organic matter into fertilizer, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. This helps recycle home-made waste like leftover fruits and veggies that are rich with nitrogen, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These leftovers can improve soil health and prevent erosion instead of ending up in a landfill.
Food waste negatively impacts the environment, and in 2018, the EPA reported that the U.S. produced 63.1 million tons of food waste. Not only does composting reduce this waste, but it also fuels the plants by enriching the soil they grow in. Consult a guide to see what you can compost!
Shopping at farmers markets and other locally sourced stores can help support small businesses and reduce pollution. Big-name stores rely on transportation to receive products, and buying locally reduces transportation pollution, according to the Green Business Bureau. Burning fossil fuels releases harmful gases like carbon dioxide and formaldehyde which cause climate change, according to the Department of Ecology. Less gas means less greenhouse emissions.
Turn the lights off
Incandescent lighting is extremely inefficient, according to the Department of Energy. About 90% of the energy these lights use is released as heat and just 10% as light. The EPA reported that LED bulbs are more efficient than incandescent lighting and last longer, making them better for the environment. But when you leave a room, don’t leave the lights on. Flip that switch!
From growing your own produce to the small changes like swapping dryer sheets for wool dryer balls, every environmentally friendly action counts. Don’t let April 22 be the only day you implement these habits – let every day be Earth Day.