There are endless ways to celebrate Earth Day, from leaving the car at home for the day to trying to use as little electricity as possible. But what happens when the day after Earth Day rolls around? Do you rev up the car and turn all the lights back on?
I’m an ideas man. “Let’s riot, let’s change the world” I exclaim in a moment of passion. But then at 6 the next morning amid toilet training tantrums and scheduling with my wife, my plan to compost all the dog poop in our backyard gets literally tossed in the garbage with those petroleum plastic dog bags. It’s hard to make changes without some level of accountability. If you’re like me, you’re looking for real ways to make a change, not only in my own life but also, beyond my community. So what if we treated Earth Day not as a single day to acknowledge the environment, but instead as a kind of ‘environmental New Years Eve’? One where we actually keep our resolutions.
Here are 5 inspiring ways to celebrate Earth Day that encourage an ongoing commitment to the Earth. We’ll start with some easier ones and ramp up from there;
1) Start Composting
Some people assume that the food they throw in the trash will just degrade and compost in the landfill. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Organic matter needs oxygen to decompose, and oxygen is in short supply when you’re contained in a plastic bag, piled high in a trash heap. But composting at home is easier than you think. Check with your city to see if there’s a free composting program, where they collect and compost the soil for you. Many of these programs will use the soil for city gardens or even deliver some back to you at your request. If you have a backyard or shared community garden, an outdoor compost is easy to set up (just make sure you read up on it, to prevent building a pest buffet!). Live in a dense city with no outdoor space and no city composting? No sweat! All you need is a bin and some earthworms. Set up an apartment compost bin and you’ll have beautiful rich soil for all your indoor plants.
2) Consider Your Food
Normally, when we take a moment to consider our food, we’re thinking about whether or not it’s good for us. But are we considering whether or not it’s good for the environment? It’s important to research the ecological impact of what we consume, from how it’s packaged to how it’s grown to how far it traveled to get to us. We tend to be creatures of comfort and convenience and looking behind the curtain at how things are made, is something we’d often rather not do. I’m not going to tell you how to eat. That’s your choice. But taking the time to think about your food is one of the biggest personal impacts we can make on the environment.
3) Go Plastic-Free
If not today, then when?! Give yourself a little time to prepare, but make a specific resolution. Whether you’re already almost living a zero-waste life and need a final little push, or if you use disposables all day long and just need to start somewhere. Get informed, read inspiring stories about other zero-wasters and start looking at ways to swap out plastics for more sustainable options. You can do it!
4) Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
Even if you’re renting, there are ways to help reduce the amount of energy it takes to make your house a home. The first place to start is with your windows and doors, make sure you fix any cracks or leaks (even with a simple draft stopper) so you’re not pumping your heat for no reason. If you’re a homeowner, you can have your house inspected for environmental issues, which you can then prioritize and address. Bonus: You’ll most likely save a ton of money in the long run without those massive hydro bills.
5) Make Your Environmentalism Intersectional
Ok, we warned you that this was going to increase in difficulty. Have you stopped to consider the intersectionality of your environmentalism? What does that mean? Intersectionality is a term that describes how the interlocking systems of power impact those who are most marginalized in society. Good examples of this are how the poor are most impacted by weather-related disasters and the global disregard for water quality in low-income areas. This is a thinker for sure and not something you can change overnight like you can with composting, but taking the time to really research who is most impacted by the current state of the environment and stepping up to raise the voices of the less heard is a huge commitment you can make this Earth Day and every day after. An Environmental catastrophe may feel like something that is looming in the very near future, but for many people, it’s already here.
What commitments can you make to looking beyond yourself and your direct community this Earth Day? We want to know!