Updated: May 17
It's International Mother Earth Day. It's a time to celebrate our planet, but before we start celebrating, we have some work to do. Our earth is calling on us while nature suffers through flooding, droughts, wildfires, and a recent record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. Species extinction is occurring at an astronomical rate. We are losing 15 billion trees each year as a result of human civilization and agriculture. Trees are not only known for their beauty, but they're also essential for life with their ability to help us breathe better and manage the atmosphere through carbon sequestration. Human-made changes to nature and acts that disrupt biodiversity, such as deforestation, land-use change, animal agriculture, and livestock production are big drivers of climate change, accelerating the destruction of the planet. A recent report from the United Nations stated that unless governments everywhere reassess their energy policies, the world will be uninhabitable. In a recent United Nations report, it was stated that, unless action is taken soon, some major cities will be under water. The forecast? The UN Chief predicts, “unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms, widespread water shortages and the extinction of a million species of plants and animals.” He goes on to say, "It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree (Celsius, or 2.7-degrees Fahreinheit) limit” that was agreed in Paris in 2015."
Those statements are rattling, to say the least. Changing government policies may seem out of reach, however it's an opportunity to use our voices. Vote for policy makers that care and plan to take action. Make your voice heard by visiting organizations like The Solutions Project, One Tree Planted, Food Tank, and Environmental Defense Fund to sign their petitions or donate to their efforts. Join your local Sierra Club and get busy with trash cleanup or planting trees in your own community. Together, we can make a difference.
While it may not feel like much, each individual action can make a big impact on the planet. There are some obvious things we can do like eat more plant-based meals, reduce our waste, minimize plastic, plant trees, or drive electric cars. But, we also need to raise our voices and ask that corporations take actions to curb climate change. Vote with your dollar and support companies that are committed to helping the planet by ditching plastic, using compostable waste, and minimizing their overall impact on the planet. If there is a company you use on the regular and they're not practicing healthy planet outcomes, ask them to make a greater effort. Let them know that you support, and would like to continue supporting, them and that, as a loyal customer, you'd like to see them [fill in the blank ... use paper instead of plastic packaging, ship with less materials, stop using straws, etc]. Maybe they can offer recycling programs, use let plastic waste, or compost their food waste (in the case of restaurants). Approaching companies and policy changers in an inclusive and kind way, indicating that we are all in this together, may be an effective approach.
Other actions we can take as individuals are highlighted in our blog post, 50 Things We Can Live Without (For the Planet). Earthday.org also provides their own list of 52 Ways to Invest in the Planet. Incorporating more plant-based foods can certainly make an impact, not just on the planet's health, but also on our own health by reducing risk of lifestyle diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia. Eating more plants can also help with everyday quality of life, like sleeping better, losing weight, balancing hormones, and supporting a good mood. Learn more about how plant-based eating can help the planet here and learn about the health benefits of going plant-based here.
Below are several ways in which you can individually help the planet through actions in your own home. Even taking one action can make an impact! Let us know what you would add to the list. We're always looking for ideas.
Five Ways to Use Veggie Scraps and Reduce Waste
Make a yummy soup broth (helps to reduce both packaging waste too!).
Make a nutrient-rich juice (How to Make DIY Veggie Juice Without a Juicer).
Freeze fruit and veggies on their last leg and use later in soups, broths, and smoothies.
Donate veggie scraps to local farm sanctuaries (pigs love produce!).
Compost! Compost on your own or join a local compost community in your neighborhood. If you're in Atlanta, Compost Now is wonderful!
Three Ways to Help the Planet from Your Kitchen
Reuse old glass condiment jars to store salad dressings, sauces, and food leftovers. The benefit of using glass is that you also avoid harmful chemicals used in plastic and also you'll save money by not having to purchase mason jars.
Use bamboo scrub brushes instead of plastic.
Three Ways to Help the Planet from Your Bathroom
Reduce plastic waste from floss by using a refillable bamboo floss holder.
Use bamboo toothbrushes, rather than plastic.
Participate in Terra Cycle's recycle program. (How it works: Purchase a bag or box from them, which is delivered to your doorstep. Fill the bag or box with toothpaste tubes, floss containers, old toothbrushes, and more. Send back to Terra Cycle for recycling. It's a simple and amazing program! They offer the same services for beauty products, office supplies, and more).
Plant Your Own Garden