Earth Day is sort of like high school English class: after twelve years of grammar lessons, we still don't know when to use lay/lie or how to properly use a comma. The first recognized Earth Day occurred in 1970... 48 years later we're still trying to understand how to best preserve our environment. It's become increasingly obvious over the years, however, that our need for convenience isn't necessarily convenient for our ecosystems.
And, it seems that there's always a flip side to most environmental issues:
- avoiding growth-hormones in dairy by switching to almond milk... yet it takes approximately a gallon of water to grow EACH almond
- switching to wind power reduces reliance on resources... yet can negatively affect birds' migratory patterns
- fracking for natural resources lowers gas and oil prices... yet increases air & water pollution and risk of earthquakes
Even if you aren't ready to trade-in for a hybrid or electric car, there's still several ways you can help the environment- without moving off the grid.
Earth Day might be recognized on April 22nd, but incorporating these 9 small changes into your daily routine can make every day Earth Day.
- Skip the Straw: Over 500 million plastic straws are used in the US every day. Yes- that's half a billion in the United States alone. Skip the straw entirely or switch to a reusable or compostable option. First Step... if you use multiple straws throughout the day with your iced tea or coffee fix, hang onto the first one to use all day.
- Limit Single Servings: Sure, it's easy to throw a snack size bag of chips into your lunch, but all of those single-serve bags & bottles mean extra packaging and extra expense. Buy a bigger bag / bottle and portion into reusable containers. You'll have better control over portion sizes and save money per ounce. Start Smaller... keep single-serve bags/bottles out of sight so they're reserved for travel or emergency only... not snacking on the couch.
- Rethink One & Done: From wipes to floss to razors to cups- there's no shortage of disposable "convenient" products on the market. Begin transitioning to reusable, quality replacements to reduce resource consumption, packaging, and landfill overflows. Start Smaller... determine which disposables you use most often, compare the price of daily use to a single reusable switch.
- Lose a Minute: Yes, I know hot water is drying to skin, but a hot shower is still one of my favorite parts of the day. While it might be a great time to plan your day or belt out show tunes, every minute uses approximately one gallon of water. Even reducing your shower time by one minute will save nearly 7 gallons of water over the week. Start Smaller... shaving thirty seconds off your daily shower will save about 3.5 gallons of water weekly...over 180 gallons a year!
- Eliminate RoundUp: The main ingredient in RoundUp- glyphosate- has been determined carcinogenic. Using it on your lawn also means it can run into storm systems, affect gardens, and harm kids or pets. Bothered by weeds between sidewalk cracks? Many of them can be eliminated with hot water. Start Smaller... dandelions are food for bees, grasshoppers, and butterflies. Instead of poisoning them, consider pulling them a mini bonus workout.
- Let Produce Mingle: Skip the plastic produce bags. Although some produce shouldn't be stored together, they can mingle on the trip home from the store. Start Smaller... prefer keeping everything separate? Choose reusable/washable produce bags.
- Replace Paper: Hooked on paper towels, paper plates, and coffee on the go? Transition to reusable towels and plates. Most to-go cups aren't recyclable- many coffee shops will give a small discount for bringing your own cup. Start Smaller... choose tree-free plates and cups made from sustainable and/or compostable materials.
- BYOB: Bring your own bag. Move beyond the grocery store and keep a bag or two in your car for all of your shopping errands. Start Smaller... reuse bags from the store as long as possible before buying new reusable bags.
- Choose Sustainable Seafood: Look for the sustainable sourced seafood certification to ensure your choice didn't harm reefs and other marine life. Start Smaller... use the free Monterey Bay Aquarium app for safer alternatives for you favorite seafood. Start Smaller... make a difference for marine life by losing a pound! Each 100% recycled 4ocean bracelet removes one pound of garbage from our oceans.
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