After my road trip through nature’s majestic beauty and bounty, I’m still a little high—high on nature. I feel inspired, rebalanced and rejuvenated, effects that only Mother Nature has a way of providing.
In honor of Earth Day today (and every day), let’s do what we can (big or small) to reduce our negative impact on the environment. We have so much to gain when our planet is healthy.
Over the years, I’ve become more and more eco conscious, which mainly has to do with my shift toward a cruelty-free diet and lifestyle. It has made me more sensitive and aware of the little things I do that can either have a positive or negative impact on the environment. Plus, subscribing to various animal and conservation groups reminds me every day of the environmental issues brought on by our carelessness and consumption.
So I’ve put together a list of everyday things we can do to help ensure our planet’s health.
Even small changes made by a great number of people can make a big impact.
- Throw away trash, even if it isn’t yours (And if the person who left their trash is still in the vicinity, maybe they’ll actually feel bad seeing you pick up after them.)
- Take it a step further and schedule a routine cleanup (It’s amazing the thigh workout you can get picking up trash at the beach—your trash bag will fill up fast! Plus, you help set a good example to others. If you’re grossed out by it, carry gloves and/or hand sanitizer with you.)
- Use reusable cups, dishes and silverware whenever you can (I love this lightweight silverware set that I use at work. It comes with a neoprene case.)
- Reuse the plastic stoppers from Starbucks and other coffeehouses (After washing them, I place them in a bag and put them in my car for future use.)
- Use reusable shopping and produce bags (Each time you unload your grocery items, hang the empty bags on your door knob so you remember to store them in your car next time you step out.)
- Routinely challenge yourself to spend a little more money for an earth-friendly product (e.g., eco-friendly personal care products, laundry detergents, dish soaps, cleaning solvents and biodegradable bags). Or, even better, make the full switch to all eco-friendly items!
- Use reusable straws (This is something I need to be better about—I wash and reuse plastic straws but I really need to start using stainless steel ones or biodegradable paper straws.)
- Use rechargeable batteries (great for things like Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, battery-powered toothbrushes, thermostat control panels, kids’ toys, etc.)
- If you can’t part ways with your Keurig single-serve coffee maker, use a K-cup reusable coffee filter (Plus, read why the inventor of this machine regrets making it.)
- Control your addiction to the latest and greatest electronic devices (“It if it ain’t broke, don’t replace it.” Cell phone carriers are largely to blame, always sending reminders to upgrade our devices. I may have been one of the few people under the age of 30 who waited years before swapping a flip phone for a smartphone. That may be a little extreme, but what I’m saying is, if your phone is still functioning, hang onto it until its dying days—or at least until it starts acting up. It’s this addiction that has led to humans being outnumbered by mobile devices.)
- Recycle old clothes instead of tossing them in the trash (You can give them away, sell them, or cut them up and use as rags for household chores. Or go the minimalist route and buy less.)
- Unplug electronics when not in use or when going out of town (use surge protectors or smart surge protectors for electronics like TVs, DVD players and audio systems)
- Recycle old electronics (Here’s a list of places you can take them to. You can also search for one here or here.)
- Recycle everyday things like paper, plastics and household hazardous waste (Here are tips and resources on recycling them.)
- Recycle your PUR and Brita water filters (Here’s how you can recycle PUR filters, faucet mounts and pitchers. You can recycle Brita products by mailing them for free or dropping them off at Whole Foods.)
- Conserve water (“If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Turn off the water when brushing your teeth, soaping your body and hands, washing your hair, and hand washing dishes. Also, instead of letting your shower water run while waiting for it to heat up, try hand washing dishes first. It's a trick that works for me--that way, you're putting clean water to good use while warming it up.)
- And, of course, my favorite: Challenge yourself to say #byebyebeef or reduce animal consumption and move toward a plant-based diet (Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the combined exhaust from all forms of transportation.*)
Lastly, check out this cool blog I came across recently: My Plastic Free Life. It’s a great resource on the various ways you can reduce your plastic footprint. There’s also Sustainable Baby Steps, which features all things eco-friendly living, including home, garden, travel and health.
While Earth Day is a special day for raising awareness to a very important cause, let's not forget to honor it every day.
It's almost like Mother Earth knew we were celebrating her today, and as a sign of gratitude, she put on a spectacular sunset for us.