This past March was the hottest March on record, making it all the more important to make Earth Day a part of your everyday lives than ever. No longer can we sit idly by and watch things continue to spiral out of control. Earth Day this year is on Friday, April 22nd, but you don’t have to wait until then to be a part of those who are willing to make a difference in the world and leave something worth saving for our children, and our children’s children. Together our acts can move mountains and bring about changes that will save lives, ecosystems and indeed the world. But only if people like you care enough to do something. Join me and do these 5 easy things to make Earth Day, every day and green your entire lifestyle.
Reuse or Re-purpose it
Recycling is great, and if you can’t reuse or re-purpose it, then definitely recycle it. However, even recycling takes energy, and the more times you can add to something’s useful life the better. So before you ditch that plastic bottle, or those tattered pants see if you can reuse it or give it a new purpose. It could be as simple as reusing that glass bottle to hold your pencils, or as your daily water bottle. Or creating a quilt from those old sheets and other old textiles you no longer have a use for, or turning them into rags for cleaning (seriously, this one takes no skill what so ever and you’ll never have to buy paper towels again!), or making paper.
This is one of the best, and let’s face it, cheapest ways to green up your lifestyle. Of course, we all have things we want, but do we need them? There’s a difference. Just because you reduce your consumption doesn’t mean you have to do without. There are many options, for example, while having a full library is wonderful for the bookworms out there, buying books can be expensive. Instead, try borrowing from your local library. You’ll thank me when PCS time comes around! Your local library also often has magazines, and yes, even DVDs and music you can borrow. So next time, see if you can borrow it for free, instead of buying new.
Your buying dollars matter. The more you can vote with your pocket-book the more industries will change for the better. For example, there’s a shortage of organic farmers due to the overwhelming consumer demand for it. So take a look at where your favorite things come from. Does that beef come from a cow standing out in a field? No. It doesn’t. It comes from a cow packed in a feedlot , while it’s fed grain and antibiotics to keep it from getting sick and make sure it grows as fast as possible. Where does that new shirt come from? A fairly paid seamstress? Or a child making pennies in a sweatshop? Do you really want your money supporting industries like that? I know you don’t. Instead, spend your money on items that are in line with your beliefs.
Look for items with the following certifications:
- Certified Organic
- GMO Free
- Fair Trade
- Cruelty Free
- Free Range & Grass-fed (Note: Cage Free isn’t listed? Find out why it’s not good enough.)
Protip: Confused by labels & names? Wondering if “natural” is good enough? Read this.
Or take the guess work out of it and get an app that will tell you if that item violates your environmental & ethical stances with the scan of a bar code like Buycott.
Shop Seasonally & Locally
As a Vermonter, shopping locally is part of my life. Vermonters are proud of the things we make and raise in our little state and love supporting those who make them. So check out your area and learn how you can support your local economy wherever you are. Instead of supporting huge, multinational corporations, support the little guys. Your money won’t go to a sweatshop, it will stay right there with the artisan who made your dress, or the farmer who grew your onions. Once you start supporting your local businesses and products you’ll find that things come and go seasonally. Buy seasonal fruits and veggies to support those who produce them locally, and reduce the amount of pollution created from shipping out of season things from far off places. Looking for a local farmer’s market? Find one near you here.
This is one of the most important things you can do. Take action! Even if it’s a small action, it still matters. Did you hear about the guy who cleaned up an entire river by himself? Or the blind man & his armless friend who plant trees? These are people, just like you and me who did something, they are actively making a difference right now. You might only be one person, or one family, but you can make a difference and your voice does matter. You can make a difference by being involved in politics and writing to your representatives on topics that you feel strongly about, by getting involved in local clean up projects, by voting for representatives that are in line with your beliefs, by encouraging and sharing others to make small, green, changes in their own lives and teaching your children how to be kind to the environment and why it matters. You don’t have to be a full-blown activist, even something so simple as allowing dandelions to grow in your yard, or not using pesticides, can be a worthwhile change that will at least help a bee or two.