Earth Day is next Wednesday, April 22, and you don’t have to be a schoolkid to observe this new-ish holiday, which officially began in 1970. In my mind, every day should be Earth Day, but it doesn’t hurt to have an annual reminder that we all can and should do more to help protect our planet.
Below are some of my favorite simple ways to celebrate Earth Day every day.
1. Recycle as much as you possibly can! In many municipalities across America, residents are actually required to recycle, as we are here in New York City, which makes it very convenient and easy to do. Be sure to find out what items your city allows you to recycle. For example, certain plastics may technically be recyclable, but they may not actually fall into your town’s acceptable list of recyclables. What items can you recycle here in New York City? Hit up this link for a video and list.
2. Compost! Again, some cities may have their own organics collection program, while others offer nothing of the sort. Here in Park Slope, Brooklyn, we have a fairly new organics collection program. Each small residential building has been provided with a compost bin for the curbside and a small collection bin for each apartment. All we have to do is collect our organic waste in a compostable bag—we use the ones from Ucan Untrash—and put the bag in the bin out front for collection. If you don’t have a program like this in your area, do a Google search to find out if there’s a compost drop-off location near you. And if you have a yard and want to go balls-deep in composting, there are tons of websites out there with information on how to compost at home.
3. Save Water! The news about the dire state of water supply in California has really opened my eyes to how much water we use on a daily basis. I realize that I’m very fortunate to have a ready supply of clean water for drinking and washing every day. One simple thing I’ve begun doing is to NOT turn the kitchen faucet on full blast while hand-washing dishes. I can still get the job done while using a whole lot less water. The little things really add up.
4. Reusable Water Bottles! Speaking of water, stop it with the bottled stuff. Just stop. Remember that California drought? Many of the major bottled water brands like Dasani, Aquafina, Crystal Geyser, and Arrowhead source their H2O from some of the areas that are in a whole lot of hot water (see what I did there?). So that’s one issue, but another issue is all the waste the empty bottles produce. Yes, water bottles are recyclable, but that doesn’t mean the general U.S. populace is good about recycling them. If the tap water in your area isn’t great quality, filter it using a Brita or something similar, then fill up your reusable water bottle and go. There are a ton of aesthetically appealing water bottle brands out there, including bkr (pictured in above photo), Design for Living, Reduce, Contigo, Sigg, and the sportier Camelbak and Nalgene. Are reusable bottles more expensive than bottled water? Absolutely. Are they more economical over time? Most definitely. More importantly, they’re much more earth friendly. Next time someone offers you a bottle of water, make like Kimmy Schmidt and politely decline.
5. Use Eco-Friendly Products and Brands! Remember when I found out that Aveda uses 100% wind power to manufacture their products? Knowing that made me respect the brand so much more. Seeking out brands that use renewable energy and don’t pollute the environment in the process of making their products should be at the top of everyone’s shopping lists, but I’ll be the first to admit it can be easy to forget to do this while in a store. With the internet, though, we all have the power to find out which products and brands aren’t doing more harm to our planet than good.
6. Reusable Shopping Bags! Seriously, everyone should keep one or two of these in their bag or car. There are a ton of fold-up or pouch options out there that don’t take up much space and are easy to take with you for a quick shopping trip or that huge grocery store blowout for a dinner party. With a zillion cute patterns and brands available, there’s truly a reusable tote for everyone. Some brands I like: Flip & Tumble (seen in the image), Baggu, and ChicoBag. A lot of parties or booths at events tend to give reusable tote bags away, so sometimes you don’t even have to buy them. In our household we’ve hit a surplus of totes, so each time a new one finds its way to our apartment we leave it on the street for someone else to take for free.
7. Clean Green! This is a move that’s been harder for me to make; I find that the eco-friendly cleaning products available in stores aren’t always as effective as the heavy duty chemical stuff. But I’m taking small steps to use cleaners made with household products, like using a mixture of vinegar and water instead of Windex to clean mirrors and windows. I recently ran out of my Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and decided to go green with my commode cleaning. I began using the tea tree oil toilet bowl scrub recipe (all you need are vinegar, tea tree oil, and baking soda) found at DIY Natural, and I have to say I’m a convert! The internet contains literally a bazillion natural cleaning product recipes, and I’m looking forward to trying many more of them out in my home. A few greenie websites I like? Hello Natural, Wellness Mama, and Live Simply. Bonus discovery: making your own cleaning products turns a chore into a MUCH more enjoyable and satisfying activity!
These are just my own personal tips for doing my part toward not wrecking the planet. I’m not the perfect greenie all day every day, but I do make an effort. If we all did the same in our own way, I think we could start to make at least a bit of a difference.
What are your favorite tips for helping to save the planet?