53rd Annual Earth Day
We've been celebrating Earth Day for over 50 years and while we've made improvements like reducing asbestos and DDT, we've also learned the harsh realities of fossil fuels and climate change.
Saving the planet can seem like an overwhelming problem much too big for any individual to tackle, but you can do one small thing today that can help the planet.
Here are planet-saving ideas you can choose from to implement on this Earth Day:
#1. Reduce food waste.
According to the EPA, food waste has increased 217% since 1970 when Earth Day began (2) and has jumped higher since the COVID-19 pandemic. We all need to do what we can to prevent food from being thrown out.
If you're stocking up on fresh fruits and veggies, but finding they're going bad before you can eat them all, you can:
make a smoothie today with your fruit
use brown bananas to make banana bread
use turning basil to make pesto
use old asparagus or asparagus ends to make Asparagus Cream soup
make a Buddha Bowl with any veggies that need to be used up
freeze fruits for smoothies, nice cream, and baked goods for a later date
freeze veggies to use for soup stocks or casseroles this weekend
freeze your food scraps to start a compost when you're ready
#2. Go meatless tonight & once a week for the rest of the year.
The statistics on the methane produced by cattle, water used to produce a burger, and fossil fuels used to transport meat are staggering. (1)
Choosing to forego meat one day a week makes a big difference in the demand for meat, and ultimately reduces the environmental consequences to supply the beef on your plate. You can use the BBC's food calculator to see your diet's carbon footprint.
What to eat instead?
#3. Conserve Water and Fuel.
Turn off the water when you're soaping up your dishes, lathering your hands, and brushing your teeth.
If boiling food for dinner such as rice or pasta, place a stainless-steel steam pot or colander with vegetables on top so you can conserve water and energy by using only one pot of water and one stove burner.
You can kill two birds with one stone by cooking your veggie and starch at the same time.
Bike or walk when you can.
If you have to drive a gas-powered vehicle, limit your heat and a/c use to increase fuel efficiency.
#4. Consider packaging.
Make it a point to keep reusable bags in your vehicle so there's no excuse about forgetting them when you arrive at the store. This eliminates plastic waste- both on the manufacturing side that requires oils and other resources to make and transport the bags- as well as the consumer end by keeping bags out of landfills and oceans.
If you're only buying one or two produce items, avoid putting the produce in a plastic bag. Keep them loose in your cart or use a reusable mesh bag.
Consider items that come in packages that are hard on the environment. For instance, instead of buying eggs that come in Styrofoam, make it a point to buy eggs in cardboard cartons.
If you're not using your appliances, unplug your toaster, blender, TV, and other appliances to save energy. This also can save money on your electric bill each month.
#6. Use your own mug.
When grabbing a coffee or tea at your local café, bring your own mug or thermos.
Although the paper cups used at cafes today are recyclable, the less paper cups that need to be manufactured, the better for the earth.
Where I live in California, there's actually a $0.25 fee for cups added on to the cost of (already expensive) tea and coffee. This adds up over the course of the year. By bringing my own mug, I not only save the planet, I also save money.
As California often leads the nation in regulations, this fee may be expected in a city near you soon.
#7. Carry a BPA-free water bottle.
Similar to bringing a thermos or mug to the café, consider bringing a BPA-free water bottle everywhere you go.
One of the worst consumer environmental offenses is plastic water bottle waste. Petroleum and other chemicals are required to make the plastic bottles. We now know the BPA and microplastics are harmful to both humans and the earth. Beyond that, despite being recyclable, most plastic water bottles end up in the ocean.
By using a filtered water (if necessary) in a safe water bottle, water can be enjoyed without health or environmental consequences. Refilling the water bottle at work, public places, airports, or even amusement parks and movie theaters can make a huge difference.
It can also encourage healthy habits. By drinking more water and less soft drinks, health benefits may include less cravings, weight loss, more controlled blood sugars, lower blood pressure, reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease, less headaches, clearer skin, and more regular bowel movements.
Drinking more water from reusable BPA-water bottles is a no brainer.
Which of these actions will you take today? Leave a comment below.
(1) Stylianou, N., Guibourg, C., & Briggs, H. (Aug. 9, 2019). Climate change food calculator: What's your diet's carbon footprint? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46459714
(2) Environmental Protection Agency. Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste and Recycling. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/food-material-specific-data