Every year, Earth Day provides a platform for the next generation of environmental change makers. In addition to the focus on regulation and government policy, it is an opportunity to promote individual responsibility for the environment. For example, pollinator gardening, eliminating food waste, and the famous “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” adage are just a few of the things we can do at home.
If you want to shine a light on the global climate crisis and work toward its resolution, then Earth Day is your day to be a part of something big in small ways. We’ve put together a list of nine small actions you can take today to care for our planet and its residents — humans, plants and animals alike!
But first, some history
In the middle of the twentieth century, as America prospered, the damage from more than a century of unchecked industrial development was becoming apparent. On April 22, 1970, in answer to growing environmental concerns throughout the country, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin organized what became the first Earth Day.
This first Earth Day brought together 20 million Americans from all walks of life to share their concerns for the endangered natural world. It resulted in the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Within just a few years the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act would follow, laying the groundwork for a cleaner, healthier, more eco-friendly future.
Put simply, Earth Day makes a difference, and it’s a difference you can be a part of. Whether you’re an avid gardener or prefer observing nature through the comfort of your backyard window, there are things you can do every day to ensure that same healthy future for future generations, just as Nelson did for us.
9 ways you can take action this Earth Day
You don’t need to have a million bucks or all the time in the world to take action on behalf of your planet. These 10 small things make a huge difference when it comes to reducing your impact on the planet and making Earth a more hospitable environment for plants, animals, and your fellow humans.
Gardening addresses a multitude of environmental problems from species diversity to carbon emissions. Plant a tree or a pollinator garden and you can be part of the solution.
Use alternative transportation
If your normal commute involves a long drive, consider carpooling, taking public transportation, or biking to work as an alternative. If this isn’t a practical option, switching to a more fuel-efficient ride can also make a huge difference.
If you don’t already recycle, you’ll be amazed at how easy it can be, and how much garbage you can divert from the landfill. Reusable plastic water bottles, cans, containers and more can all be recycled, and most cities have recycling stations where you can bring these items and more to be repurposed.
Phase out light bulbs
If you’re still using incandescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs, it’s time to make the switch to LED bulbs. They’re the least expensive, longest lasting, most energy-efficient bulbs you can buy, and they provide the same amount of light. It’s a win-win!
Enjoy down time in nature
Our contemporary lifestyle, with its constant barrage of digital media and takeout food, doesn’t exactly lend itself to reflection. That’s why it is important to unplug for a few hours and enjoy a breath of fresh air in the great outdoors. It will boost your mood, health, and peace of mind.
Cancel plastic bags, plastic straws, and disposable utensils
Although most plastic is recyclable, it requires lots of energy to do so. We’re better off eliminating single-use plastics, and replacing them with long lasting alternatives. Replace plastic shopping bags with fabric totes. Why not use your own metal utensils when you get takeout? If you regularly use straws, invest in a stainless steel straw and wash it with a straw cleaner.
Fix your leaky faucet
A drippy faucet can cause a snowball effect of home maintenance issues, and it’s also bad for the environment. Municipal water purification requires energy and home water heaters use energy. Both of these systems send fuel costs literally down the drain when the faucet leaks, which wastes your money and causes unneeded environmental impacts.
Create backyard sanctuaries
Whether you live in the city or the country, in a house or apartment, your outdoor space is home to wildlife. Make your backyard, patio, or balcony more inviting by planting a few native species for the birds, bees, and butterflies to enjoy. Vast natural landscapes are awesome, but container gardens count too!
Set up online bill payment
The pandemic has taught us that we can do any transaction online, so why continue paying bills through the mail? You’ll cut down on the amount of stops your mailman has to make, which translates to lowered emissions from mail trucks. Plus, it saves you so much time (and you don’t have to remember how to write a check).
Whether you choose to spend Earth Day outside with your family, fixing your leaking faucets, or dropping off a load at the recycling center downtown, there are a myriad of small ways you can invest in your planet this Earth Day. If all of us do our part, we will ensure a healthy, thriving future for our planet and all the generations to come.
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