6 Easy Ways to Extend Eco-Friendliness Beyond Earth Day
Earth Day is observed annually on April 22nd as a day to celebrate the planet and increase awareness for environmental efforts. On Earth Day, communities often host clean-up events and educational opportunities to facilitate a growing awareness of the challenges facing Earth. But there’s no reason to limit these fantastic aims to only one day a year. Below is a list of ideas to help you carry Earth Day spirit with you all year long.
1. Ditch the plastic
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know by now that plastics are bad for the environment. But do you know why?
While recycling is vital to reduce the amount of plastic currently in the environment, the unfortunate reality is that perpetually producing and then recycling plastic is not a sustainable solution. This is because every time it gets recycled, the resulting plastic being produced is always of a lesser quality, among many other issues such as the inefficiencies of recycling specifically plastics.
To make matters worse, around 91% of earth’s plastics do not even make it to recycling plants, but instead are thrown into landfills, along roadsides, or into oceans and rivers. There, they leach harmful chemicals into the earth and pose threats to wildlife and, by extension, humans.
The first step to using less plastic is to start paying attention to the amount of plastic you use in everyday life. Then, it is really quite simple to swap single-use plastic items out for one of the many innovative solutions on the market. One example is exchanging plastic grocery sacks with a cloth or canvas variety. To phase out the ziploc variety of plastic bags, try using glass or other reusable containers, or try Bee’s Wrap, which is washable, reusable, and compostable. Another super simple fix is deciding to carrying a reusable water bottle from home versus buying a disposable one, which will not only reduce plastic waste, but help save you money as well.
2. Take a hike
Countless studies have indicated that ‘forest-bathing’ is beneficial for human health. From forcing us to unplug, improving memory and creativity, reducing stress, and increasing physical activity, the benefits of nature on humans abound.
But getting people outside has benefits for the environment too! Regularly experiencing the beauty of the earth all around us, not just once a year on April 22, helps to build within us an appreciation for the gift that is our planet. When we go hiking, spend a day at the beach, or simply sit outside and stare up at the stars-- these are experiences that increase appreciation for the earth. With heightened appreciation comes an internal sense of responsibility and concern. What’s more, as you are out experiencing the natural world, you will inevitably see trash washed up on the beach or notice it along your hiking route, and (hopefully!) be inspired to take action.
America is full of seemingly endless opportunities to explore naturally beautiful destinations. To search a list of National Parks by state, click here. Chances are, there are several in your area just waiting for you to explore.
3. Join a clean-up effort
Though Earth Day itself is an especially popular day for volunteering at clean-up events, there are nearly endless opportunities to get involved in similar efforts throughout the year. One fantastic organization to check out is The Nature Conservancy. They keep a running list of events and volunteer opportunities that potential participants can search by country and state/territory.
Volunteering with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides another opportunity for year-round involvement. The NRCS is a federal agency which aims to work with private landowners to enact conservation practices that will increase the quality of the soil, water, and air, as well as benefit wildlife.
Of course, there’s always the simple but effective option of grabbing a group of friends and picking up litter together in your local community. If you are in school and are involved in a campus organization, why not be an advocate for the earth by getting your organization to host a clean-up day of their own?
4. Shop smart
As consumers, choosing to support sustainable businesses can be a powerful way to collectively help the environment. As environmental responsibility is getting more popular, avoid ‘green-washing’ by researching the companies you frequently support, and by familiarizing yourself with a list of trusted third-party seals to look for on the products you buy.
For essentially every product you could need, there are both more and less sustainable options available on the market. Choosing the sustainable variety not only makes an immediate impact, but sends a message to the industry at large about the value of the earth to consumers. Click here for a list of a few standout companies who are setting an example as far as sustainable business practices.
Another way to shop smart is to be conscious about the environmental costs of packaging and shipping. Online shopping is so convenient these days (Eg: Grocery delivery services, Amazon Prime Now, Uber Eats, etc.). As easy as it is to become a regular patron of online and digital shopping platforms, it’s time we all start thinking about ways we can cut down on the packaging and number of trips that can so quickly add up. In a consumer-based culture, trying to live sustainably can seem overwhelming and impossible, but take heart: small changes can collectively add up in a big way.
5. Conserve your energy
Traditionally, consuming energy unfortunately means using non-renewable resources and creating pollution. However, a growing market for energy innovations means there are options for more environmentally-friendly sources. At the very least, turning off unneeded running water and unnecessary lights is a simple way to cut down on your personal energy usage, let alone reduce your energy-related bills each month.
On a larger scale, when it comes time to replace an item in your home energy system, choosing a more environmentally friendly option is a no-brainer. Many energy efficient products, like these innovative options from Rheem, not only help to reduce your carbon footprint but can also reduce your monthly energy bill.
Installing an energy-efficient thermostat, or even producing your own renewable energy using methods like solar, are also great options. If your state has a good net-metering policy, you can benefit further from installing a solar energy system.
6. Get involved with ACC
Here at the American Conservation Coalition, we are dedicated to seeking solutions to environmental issues while championing the free-market. If you share our values, please pass along our message to your friends!
We also have several opportunities for you to get involved on a deeper level. Our membership program is the first of its kind dedicated to promoting free-market environmental solutions. Learn more about becoming a member here. If you are a student, you can bring ACC to your college campus by joining us as a Campus Chair.
As ACC continues to expand, we will continue adding opportunities for new team members. To view current open positions, click here. We believe together we can change the narrative by showing that environmentalism and the free market can, and do, go hand-in-hand.
Happy Earth Day! Thank you for doing your best to protect our planet all year long. For more helpful tips on how to be eco-friendly, check out ACC’s growing list here.