Updated: Jul 26
During these times of social distancing, normal Earth Day activities are no longer accessible. However, every day can be Earth Day! Each day we are given a choice to celebrate and honor our Earth, no matter how big or small that appreciation may be. Below are some activities you can do for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020. Hopefully, you will be able to incorporate some of them into your everyday life for lasting sustainable change.
1.) Join a virtual Earth Day
There are multiple different virtual Earth Days happening all over the internet on April 22nd. One of the ones I will be attending is Earth Day Live put on by Youth Climate Strikes. "Earth Day Live is a 3-day online event where activists, performers, thought leaders, and artists will come together for an empowering, inspiring, and communal mobilization."
RSVP HERE: https://www.earthdaylive2020.org/
2.) Take part in a waste challenge
The Changing Tides Foundation is hosting a free 'Plastic Swear Jar Challenge.' The objective of the challenge is to become aware of all the plastic items we use on a daily basis. Although we are using more plastic than normal because of COVID-19 and there is no way of getting around certain items; we can still become aware of our consumption during this time and take action on certain single-use items that we can reduce right now. Holding ourselves accountable is the first step!
3.) Learn how to compost
Has composting always intimidated you? Or you feel like you don't have enough space to do it? Well, there are multiple different ways you can compost! Worm composting is very efficient for people living in apartments without a backyard. If you have a backyard, there is always backyard composting. Then there is tumbler composting if you don't have a yard but have a place outside or a garage to store the tumbler. There are also drop-off and pick-up compost programs in many towns throughout the country. Take the time to do a quick Goggle search to see what is accessible to you and your family.
4.) List three items you can reduce right now
Although it is predicted residential waste is going to increase by 30%, you can still identify some areas where you can reduce waste. Look at your grocery shopping habits, what are you constantly buying? Is there a way you can get a larger size of it to reduce individual packaging? Now that kids are home from school, you can opt for the family size bag of chips, instead of the individual ones you might put in a lunch box. Instead of buying individually packaged items that are already made in 'serving sizes,' try to make your own serving sizes and save on the extra waste. Plus, it is less expensive!
Other things to consider
Small yogurt containers -> big ones
Juice boxes -> jug of juice (avoid cartoons because they are non-recyclable)
Small packets of rice -> large box of rice
K-cups -> pot of coffee OR reusable k-cups
5.) Reuse what is around you
We have this notion that once we are 'done' with something, we simply throw it out or recycle it. If we begin to train our brains to look at waste differently, we can see all the different ways we can use the product before it hits the bin. For instance, if you are buying jars of apple sauce or yogurt containers, reuse those containers for food storage. If you are having cans of soup, save the can and use it as a pen holder. A plastic bag used to cover bread is now a mini trash bag!
6.) Shop local (if you can)
If you have the ability to purchase some produce, dairy or meat locally, this will not only be better for the environment (since the average meal travels 1,500 miles), but you will be helping keep those farms in business!
By shopping local, you will also reduce the amount of single-use packaging if you are ordering straight from the farm through a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program.
For Burlington, Vermont folks, check out the local CSA program run by the Intervale Community Farm. They have adapted their operations to fit COVID-19 social distancing standards.
7.) Unplug Outlets
With many of us working from home, or homeschooling our kids, or just being home more in general, chances are, there are many devices still plugged into the outlet when things are fully charged. Try to be mindful and unplug your cords from the outlet once they are all charged up. Although a device may have completed its charge, if it remains to be connected to the power source, it will still use energy while in standby mode.
Go for the gold and shut your electrics off 30-minutes to an hour earlier each night to save on energy usage.
8.) Take 5-minute showers
The average American takes an 8.2-minute long shower and uses 17.2 gallons of water. Timing your showers is a great way to see where you can improve your shower time and decrease your water intake. The average shower faucet uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute. If you drop down to a five-minute shower, you save seven gallons of water each time you shower!
If you shower almost every other day, that is a total savings of 1,277.5 gallons of water over the course of the year.
9.) Make your own thank you cards
If you have paper lying around your house, now is the time to get creative and make homemade thank you cards. Don't have paper? Do you have cereal boxes? Or any type of paperboard boxes? You can cut them up and make upcycled thank you post-cards. This way, you get multiple uses out of the paperboard before it gets recycled. Just make sure to not add glitter, glue, or other material that will then make the card non-recyclable or non-compostable.
Why thank you cards on Earth Day? We may feel lonely, but we are not alone. Taking the time to sit down and write a thank you card to someone who has supported you, been there for you, did a random act of kindness, will not only brighten their day but yours as well.
What are you doing this Earth Day?
To sustainability and beyond!
- Marina M. McCoy