I love Earth Day...obviously. I think it is a wonderful day that encourages more people to think about more about what they can do to help the planet. The problem is a lot of people stop and pause on that topic ON Earth Day, when really you should be thinking what you can do for the planet EVERY DAY.
My goal is to get more people to think about their personal impact on the planet each day - take a better look at all the garbage you throw away, the products you buy and use, the energy and water you consume and then multiply it by the billions of people on this planet! Water and energy are NOT infinite resources and are a luxury experienced by many people in our country, but millions go without clean drinking water and electricity.
So the next time you are letting the water run while brushing your teeth, think about all those people that don't have access to clean drinking water. And when you leave every light, TV and appliance on & plugged in your home, think about all of the people that can't afford or don't have access to even one source of light or any modern luxury or convenience item that we now can't imagine living without...
There are a million easy things you can do to lighten your impact on the planet every day; actions that don't require a lot of effort, money or adjustment in your routine. And you can save some green by doing these things too!
Here are 10 easy ways to make Earth Day every day:
1) REUSE, THEN RECYCLE...everything that you can! Go to earth911.org for local recycling centers in your area and for tips on what can be recycled (like motor oil!) and creative ways of reusing household items. Remember, reusing is recycling - wash out & reuse your Ziploc bags, reuse grocery bags, save wrapping paper & gift bags...just a few easy things that you can do!
2) KNOW WHERE TO DISPOSE! Do not throw batteries, CFL bulbs and household cleaning containers with toxic chemical content (Windex, Draino) in the regular garbage. Many local stores like Home Depot & Walgreens will take your used batteries and CFL bulbs. You can find local recycling drop-off centers on the Chicago Recycling Coalition's website, chicagorecycling.org.
3) MAKE THE SWTICH TO NON-TOXIC HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS, LAUNDRY DETERGENTS & DISHWASHING LIQUIDS. The air inside our homes is actually more polluted than outdoor air! You wouldn't let your baby play with toxic chemicals, so why would you let them crawl all over a floor just cleaned with them? Find out exactly what is in the products you use at householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov. Think twice about using products that recommend wearing rubber gloves & goggles as a protective measure or advise not to use around children & pets. Use products like Shaklee, Seventh Generation or Ecover or easily make your own!
4) CHOOSE REUSABLE INSTEAD OF DISPOSABLE. Eliminate or cut down on the use of paper plates, napkins and paper towels from your daily routine. Use dish towels or try reusable cloths made from bamboo (an extremely renewable resource), called Twist that are available at Whole Foods Market. Pack lunches in reusable bags and use sandwich wraps instead of aluminum foil or plastic wrap, a great selection is available at reuseit.com, a local Chicago company. When storing food, choose glass containers or jars instead of plastic containers and bags. Wash out & reuse mason jars, baby food jars, etc. You can also purchase glass storage containers at Crate & Barrel.
5) DONATE UNWANTED ITEMS TO CHARITY OR SELL THEM. Instead of throwing things away give them to charity or sell 'em on Ebay or Craig's List and make some money! Save money and waste by purchasing used items on these websites as well. These websites are great places to find gently used items like strollers, carseats and large children's toys like train tables, kitchens, and outdoor play items.
6) BYOB - BRING YOUR OWN BAG! Just say NO to plastic bags that take millenniums to decompose, litter our bodies of water, harm wildlife AND use millions of barrels of oil to make! Carry a Chico bag in your purse and keep your reusable bags (or just reuse your bags) in your car so you always have them on hand.
7) STOP BUYING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES. Buy an eco-friendly reusable water bottle (like a Klean Kanteen) instead. It takes nearly 7 times the amount of water in a water bottle to actually make the bottle itself! Only 1 out of 5 bottles of water actually get recycled, the rest end up in our landfills where they take about a 1,000 years to decompose and end up leaching phthalates into our water supply.
8) LUG A MUG! Bring a coffee tumbler to fill-up on your morning Joe and receive a discount too! Americans use over 58 billion paper coffee cups a year! Much of the waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of coffee cups and lids. And although a certain giant coffee chain's cups are made from recycled content, they are NOT recyclable because they are coated to contain the heat.
9) TURN OFF THE WATER WHEN YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH. Save 8 gallons of water a day or over 3,000 gallons a year just by, repeat with me..."H2OFF!" If you can't remember to do this, use an Ecominder or put a post-it note on your mirror to remind you.
10) NOT IN USE? CUT THE JUICE! Use a power strip and turn off all electronics at once when not in use. You can save over $200 by unplugging electronics & appliances when not in use, especially your plasma TV, which is a notorious energy hog. Researchers say that we actually spend more money on powering electronics when they are not even turned on! Invest in a Smart Strip which automatically cuts powers to electronics when it senses that the items are turned off.