Every year, on April 22, we receive a gentle reminder that the planet needs us to be conscious of our everyday habits. It's a chance to celebrate the planet while taking a moment to reflect on what we're doing to help sustain its beauty and all that it offers us. Personally, I try, but I know I can always do better. This year, my overall goal is reduction—reducing the purchase of packaged goods (bonus: bulk section is also more cost effective!), asking myself if I really need something before purchasing and donating unused items in our home. Below are ten ways to help the planet, adapted from Defenders of Wildlife Magazine.
Also, in case you missed it, here are 10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day, 53 Things We Can Live Without for the Planet, 7 Reasons Plant-Based Eating Helps the Planet and 10 Tips and Tricks to Cut Down on Food Waste.
1. Avoid palm oil. Up to 300 football fields are cleared every hour to make room for palm plantations. Orangutan populations have decreased by 50% in the last ten year from losing their habitat to palm plantations according to Defenders of Wildlife. Palm oil is found in processed foods, skincare, household cleaners and vitamins. Check your labels to avoid any variation of palm oil (palmitate, palmitic acid, etc). Learn more here.
2. Shred netted bags before tossing them. You know those netted bags that hold produce? They often end up in the ocean causing sea life to get tangled in them. Before you throw them away, cut them into small pieces. Or, better yet, purchase in bulk and use your own produce bags like these.
3. Keep storm drains in your neighborhood free of garbage. if you’re like me when trash is out of sight, it’s out of mind. But where does that trash end up? Much of the plastic and trash in storm drains end up in our waterways and oceans.
4. Stop using balloons. About 70% of balloons end up in the oceans. Marine animals mistake them as food, which ends up killing them. Balloons that stay on land end up in bird’s bellies. Find alternative eco-friendly favors for parties and celebrations.
5. Avoid fireworks. During Fourth of July celebrations is when animal shelters see their highest intake of cats and dogs because the loud fireworks are terrifying to them, causing them to take flight. Fireworks also scare wildlife into busy streets. Finally the residue from fireworks is made with toxic chemicals that contaminate the environment. Stick with the old fashioned banging pots and cans for some noisy fun.
6. Avoid flushing contact lenses down the toilet. They’re made of plastic and when they’re flushed down the toilet they pollute waterways.
7. Say no to drain clog removers (guilty). They’re made of toxic chemicals that get into wildlife water sources as well as ours! Instead, try removing debris with a wire hanger or use a natural combination of baking soda and vinegar to unclog the sink.
8. Use non chemical deicers. Chemicals and salt-based deicers can harm both wildlife and pets. not to mention contaminate lakes and rivers. Use chemical free or “pet-safe” deicers instead.
9. Eat more plants. Even if it’s just for one meal or one day, it makes a huge impact on the environment! Don’t think of it as all or nothing. Every time you substitute a plant-based meal for a meat-based meal you’re making a big difference for the planet (not to mention for your health!).
10. Reduce and reuse. Less than 15% of plastic that is placed in recycling bins actually gets recycled. Reduce plastic consumption by purchasing food in bulk, using your own refillable water bottle, avoiding single use plastics and finding uses for items that you might throw away. Personally, I love reusing jars from foods purchased at the grocery store, washing them and reusing them for storing nuts, seeds and juice. (Bonus, you save money by not having to purchase jars AND they look so much prettier and feel so much more well-organized in your cabinets!)
What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day this year?