The 50th anniversary of Earth Day was destined to be a worldwide celebration. It still will be — just virtually. The theme for Earth Day 2020 is Climate Action, and now with social distancing restrictions in place around the world to fight the spread of coronavirus, the millions of people who were expected to fill parks, stadiums, universities and plazas on Wednesday to mark the annual day devoted to environmental protection will instead rally online. Even though climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable, messages might get lost in the noise of coronavirus that seemingly drowns out any other sound. So, while we urge you all to get involved, we wanted to bring our actions close to home as that’s where all of us at eco18 are right now – in our homes, starting week six!
Here are 18 ways to be the change in our world, small but mighty steps that will make a difference, and don’t forget to check out how to be part of the big 50th anniversary Earth Day initiatives as well.
1) Cut the cord
Cable boxes emit almost 14 million metric tons of CO² a year (the same as burning over 15 billion pounds of coal), and mostly when you’re not watching or recording. Instead of watching TV live, stream via a low-power Roku or Apple TV instead.
2) Buy renewable energy
This one’s easy unless you live in an apartment building where you have little to no choice of utility company. But if you get a direct bill, some companies give you the choice to pay a little extra for power generated by sustainable sources, otherwise known as renewable energy credit REC. If your utility doesn’t offer REC’s, you can buy them from an outside supplier, go to green-e.org
3) Know where you stand
In order to make real changes, you need to find out what areas of your life need optimizing. A good carbon-footprint calculator will tell you what the best changes would be. This is very cool, you can see what your footprint is, how to make changes or offsets.
4) Meal plan
Take inventory of what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry and plan recipes accordingly. I never really did this before, but, being at home and only venturing out every 10 days to grocery shop, I’m all about the meal plan. Fresh produce is not going to waste, we are throwing out less food and we are definitely eating a greater variety of meals.
5) Pack your freezer
Did you know that your freezer consumes less energy when it’s full? So do some bulk buying and big batch cooking and freeze as individual servings. Super handy when it comes to mealtimes too.
6) Toxic cleaning products
They not only put your health at risk when you use them, they also threaten aquatic life when they wash down the drain. There are so many effective and eco-friendly products out there, check out https://www.madesafe.org/find-products/products/
7) Think twice before you buy
Do you really need that new dress, top or jeans? Think about it, it takes 70o gallons of water to produce one T-shirt. Really, unless it’s essential take a pass, or check out ethical and sustainable fashion brands.
8) Invite the pollinators to your backyard
Birds, bees, butterflies, all the lovely pollinators will flock to your garden when you grow the native plants they love. Nearly 90% of all flowering species (and more than three-quarters of the world’s food crops) rely on these pollen carriers. And they are so lovely to have around. Check out xerces.org to find the right blooms for your yard.
9) Vote with your values
You can find out how your representatives stand and see their records on climate issues. The League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard will show you what you need to know when you type in your zip code at scorecard.lcv.org. And remember to show up for local elections, you won’t have a say if you don’t show up.
10) Take brands to task
Consumer pressure equals change. Pressure from customers got companies like Starbucks to ditch plastic straws. More than 200 of the world’s largest companies have already committed to a 100% renewable energy supply through their membership with the global collaborative, RE100. In fact, over 7% of RE100 members are retailers, including international brands such as Walmart, Target, Lululemon, IKEA, and H&M.
11) Green your money
Go find another bank if yours supports fossil-fuel projects. You can scan the worst offenders at fossilbanks.org. FYI, a local Credit Union is usually the most eco place for your money. And while you’re checking out your bank, you can fix your 401K and IRA with planet-friendly investments.
12) Improve your office
Now, we will be returning to our offices at some point in the foreseeable future, unless you have decided that working from home is a better option. And, when we return, we need to do better. Recycling in most offices really sucks, as much as 90% of our workplace garbage is eligible, including 350 pounds of wastepaper the average office creates each year. Now be honest, are you creating anything like the amount of wastepaper at home as you do in the office?
13) Cut business travel
Done! But once we get back, are we really going to hop on a plane for an hour meeting? Probably not. It’s amazing how much time, money and environmental pollution we are all saving with video conferencing!
14) Travel smarter
We will want to travel again, but let’s be smarter about it. You can buy carbon offsets for just a few extra dollars that will get invested in a project that counteracts emissions generated from your trip. It’s great that our air is cleaner, our water is cleaner and the smog over big cities has gone. But it will come back in a heartbeat if we don’t watch out.
15) Stop leaking
Plug those leaks so water, energy and cash don’t seep away! Quick fridge door test is to close the door on a dollar bill, if you can easily pull it out you need to change the gasket. Hold a lit match in front of a window, if it flickers, you’ve got drafty windows. And if you have a dripping tap do you know that you could fill a swimming pool with all those little drips in a year!
So, get the leaks fixed!
16) Remind yourself why it’s worth it
Even a walk by a river or on a trail is a wonderful experience. Nature replenishes us on many levels. So, when you can, take some time to reconnect with nature, tread lightly and leave no garbage behind.
17) Get involved
Remember, your council person, mayor, congresspeople are in office to serve your interests. They might sometimes need to be reminded of that. So, join an organization like Citizens’ Climate Lobby to learn how to gain access to your people in power and start conversations that lead to action.
18) Talk it up
Share what you’re doing and why. Enthusiasm is infectious. You can start a ripple effect. If just each one of your friends and family members make one change you can have a huge impact.