On April 22nd, we will officially mark 50 years of celebrating Earth Day! It is more important than ever to go green; we should be cautious about what we are putting into the environment and how we are using our resources. For instance, you can shop smarter by seeking out products with the Green Good Housekeeping Seal. There are so many little changes you could make to your lifestyle to “go green.” If you are like me and find a reason to celebrate any and every holiday, here are some eco-friendly lifestyle changes you can make to celebrate Earth Day 2020.
1. Turn off the Faucet
If you are someone who lets the faucet run while you are brushing your teeth, you’ll find that you’re wasting almost 8 gallons of water each day. During times like these, you should be abiding by the (at least!) 20-second rule for washing your hands; conserve water by turning off the faucet as you lather your hands with antibacterial soap. Want an even more helpful tip? Fix that leaky faucet that has been driving you crazy for the past few months and you’ll conserve water you didn’t even know you were wasting. Also, it will make you happy when you get that next water bill and find it isn’t as high as it has been. 🙂
2. Unplug Appliances
Did you know? Your household appliances are wasting energy even when they are turned OFF. Appliances such as coffee makers, lamps, and computers take up energy even when they aren’t in use, but you likely keep them plugged in indefinitely for convenience purposes. Take the extra step and unplug them as soon as you are finished using them each and every time. For the housewares you insist on keeping plugged in all day, unplug them at night. For electronics, powering them off at night can actually conserve some of that battery life, and you don’t risk keeping it plugged into the charger all night (and wasting energy!).
3. Be Conscious When Washing Clothes
Approximately 90% of your washing machine’s energy goes toward heating water. Washing your laundry on the cold setting for at least one load each week can conserve a lot of energy. Better yet, cold water can be better for your clothes – it can remove stains while hot water typically shrinks clothes and fades the colors. If you are really looking to go green and want to take this a step further, ditch your washer and dryer altogether! Hand wash your clothes and hang them on a line outside to dry. If that seems like a lot, continue to use your washing machine, but hang clothes to dry instead of using the energy from your dryer.
4. Avoid Plastic Water Bottles
The latest and greatest trend is cute water bottles. Show everyone you love your pup with a paw print patterned reusable water bottle! Replace single-use plastic bottles with reusable glass or stainless steel bottles. Many websites offer customized bottles to show off your favorite hobbies, colors, and brands. Almost anywhere you take a water bottle will have a water fountain and many have filtered filling stations as well. Reusable cups aren’t just for water though. Invest in a refillable mug and you can save money at beloved coffee shops like Starbucks and Dunkin! You’ll also be doing your part to help the environment.
5. Use Alternate Transportation
The weather is going to be improving in no time, and now is the best time to get outdoors and get active. If you can bike or walk to work, take advantage of that for your health and for the sake of the environment. If distance is a problem, try carpooling with co-workers or using public transit. Less pollution and less gas money!
6. Unsubscribe from Junk Mail
We all receive mail that we throw away before even taking a second look at it. Instead of getting mail you don’t even need to open to know you are going to trash it, unsubscribe from those mailing lists! Anything you may find an interest in later can be found on the internet and will be much less of a hassle. You can also opt-out of paper mail you actually look at (but certainly don’t want to receive) by opting for paperless billing. You probably already pay your bills online, so there isn’t much need for bills through the mail. Paperless bills will be sent directly to your email and can be reviewed at any time.
7. Properly Dispose of Electronics
If you have old cell phones or laptops stored away that you don’t know what to do with, this website tells you how to dispose of them properly. There is so much more on this list than electronics, but oftentimes those are the things we hold on to the longest because we can’t simply throw them in the trash. There may be special places in your area that will dispose of them for you, and some even offer buy-backs.
8. Add Plants to your Home
Looking for a reason to spruce up your space? Celebrate Earth Day 2020 by adding some greenery to your home. Plants can help reduce the energy required to heat and cool your home by helping to regulate the temperature through the moisture they release into the air. Then, venture to the backyard and plant your own garden. This could be a fun project while the kids are at home, and it acts as a great lesson for them. No matter what food you grow, a garden will save you some money and limit food waste. If you’re not sure you will be able to grow a successful garden, shop at a farmers’ market for all your fresh produce. You will get access to better foods than you normally find at a grocery store, and you’re directly helping local farmers stay in business. Don’t forget to shop with your reusable grocery bag!
9. Be Thrifty
Instead of throwing your old “junk” away, have an “Earth Day” yard sale. What you no longer had any use for, another person may actually be searching for! Further, if you’re planning a shopping trip, try shopping second hand for your items. You’ll be recycling items instead of throwing them away, and someone will know their gently used goods are going to a good home. If you are not interested in buying secondhand, you can always shop eco-friendly brands. Companies like Patagonia are making clothes with minimal impact on the environment. No matter how you choose to do so, you can save the planet while looking good!
10. Clean up your Community
Spend the day outdoors, somewhere you like to visit often, but this time bring a trash bag and some gloves. Pick up litter to help make your favorite places look nicer and less wasteful. Getting a group of friends together (but maintaining your distance during the COVID epidemic) can be a great way to get out of the house and make a difference. Among those same friends, you can challenge each other to minimize waste by doing a “no-waste week” or even month. Find a way to go green each day for a set amount of time, and see if it doesn’t become a whole new way of living for you.
11. Plant a Tree
Planting a tree is perhaps the most obvious way to celebrate the earth. But keep in mind that you really are giving back when you plant a tree. We need all the trees we can get, and trees are cut down so often for construction purposes (in more ways than one), it never hurts to put one in its place. Speaking of trees, don’t overlook Arbor Day (April 24). This holiday focuses on planting more trees and may be the best time for this effort. The purpose of Earth Day is to pay attention to the condition the environment is in and how we can better it.