Photo credit: David Goehring
Happy Earth Day!
With all the green-washing going on these days, you’d think that you have to spend a lot of green to be green. That’s simply not the case. There is a reason that the phrase is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” in that order.
Instead of buying a hybrid car when yours works just fine, or throwing a bunch of chemicals in the trash and replacing them with “eco-friendly” chemicals instead, here are 15 simple ways to be a good citizen of the planet. Try one today, or at least this week. Almost every single one is free!
15 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
- Shop at a farmers market. This isn’t free, but if you’re going to buy food (everyone eats!), buy from your local farmers.
- Plant something, preferably edible. This could be as simple as herbs in small pot for your window, or a garden out back. While you can spend money on this, you can also grow plants from kitchen scraps.
- Take your reusable bags along and use them. Put them in your car or your purse when you’re NOT going to the store so they’re already there. And don’t just use them for groceries! Some stores like Target will even give you a nickel off per bag. If you somehow haven’t acquired a pile of reusable grocery bags, you can reuse your paper grocery sacks, too.
- Fix something instead of throwing it out. So many things are now viewed as disposable. What could be fixed instead of replaced?
- Line dry your laundry. I know, it’s still snowing in Minnesota, but it will work soon! Clothes dryers account for a huge amount of energy use and heat up your house in the summer. A clothesline will use solar energy to harness the natural antibacterial and whitening power of the sun, or just use a drying rack inside.
- Go for a walk. We spend so much time indoors, most of us could use a little vitamin D and some time outside. Bonus: you don’t need electricity or batteries to take a walk, so you’re saving energy.
- Pick up litter. This could be in your own yard, or in a public space. We live on a canyon and wind blows all sorts of trash our way. You might save an animal from a plastic hazard!
- Carpool. Whether to work or to an event, use less gas. Try to run errands in groups to avoid multiple trips as well.
- Walk or ride your bike. What is within a few mile radius of your home? Do you need to drive there? Save gas and get some exercise!
- Take a shorter shower. I struggle with this one, but showers use a lot of water. Time yourself for a baseline, then aim to cut off a minute or two. Bonus points: put a bucket in the shower to catch the spray as it heats up. Use that water for cleaning, watering the garden, doing laundry, etc.
- Compost. You don’t need a huge setup to compost. Start small. In New York you can drop off compost at some farmers markets. We started vermicomposting on the patio of our Minneapolis highrise 5 years ago and are still going strong. In San Diego? I will even give you worms.
- Use baking soda and vinegar to clean instead of chemical cleaners. There isn’t much they won’t clean.
- Use the library. I love me some books, but I also love the library. Instead of buying paperbacks you’ll only read once, save money and resources by checking them out from your local library. Used book stores are also great!
- Take your reusable cup or mug with you. Like the reusable bags, this is a great habit to form. Like the bags, many coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing your own cup. We just got acrylic cups with straws for taking green juice on the road. Especially great for avoiding bottled water!
- Don’t buy anything. Earth Day isn’t about more stuff, so if you do nothing else, refrain from buying anything. Use what you have. It doesn’t get much more free than that!
Which of these will you do? What else would you suggest?
Stacy Spensley is a healthy life coach, recovering stage manager, lover of the Oxford comma, and vegetarian. She's bossy because she loves you.