Every April, you can spot people everywhere talking about Earth Day. But what does it mean, and how can we learn more about it? In short, the special date is a chance to celebrate Earth not only as a planet but as our home. On every April 22, people around the world find different ways of celebrating our ecosystems and demonstrating support for environmental protection.
The impacts of climate change in day-to-day life become more extreme year after year. According to the United Nations, Earth’s average temperature is likely to increase by 3 degrees Celsius this century. That might even not seem a lot, but only until you check the environmental consequences of such a change, which includes major floods, water shortages, and life-threatening weather conditions.
Although important, statistics, predictions and the whole environmental talk may seem quite distant sometimes. That’s why Earth Day is a nice opportunity to take action and include a greener lifestyle in your routine in a relaxed, enjoyable way.
There is a lot you can do to celebrate Earth Day and take pride in conserving our planet’s natural resources. Some of the best Earth Day ideas and green tips are easy to apply and will improve your relationship with both nature and your community. Read on to find out the top 10 tips to enjoy Earth Day this April, including things you can reduce, things you can reuse, or even setting new eco-friendly objectives.
What Is Earth Day?
Yes, you got it. Earth Day is a celebration of life on Earth. But what does it intend to accomplish? Well, Earth Day started in 1970, amid a cultural, political and environmental shift in the United States. Since then, every April 22, we celebrate this day as a global reminder of how necessary it is to protect our planet. This isn’t only about changing habits, but spending more time outside and recognizing the magnificent beauty of the little blue orb we call home.
1. Energy Efficiency
Change can start at your home. One of the most effective (and money-saving) ways of making your home more eco-friendly is investing in energy efficiency. Most energy-efficient upgrades are affordable and will reduce your energy usage greatly.
If you are concerned about spending money, please know that you don’t need to buy a new fridge or A/C right away. You can start with small steps, such as switching out incandescent light bulbs for LED ones or buying a smart thermostat. According to Energy Star, a household could cut its energy costs by 15 to 30 percent after investing in energy efficiency.
In some cases, energy efficiency won’t even cost you a single penny. Some actions at home are already energy-efficient attitudes, such as checking for leaks and drafts. It’s significant to make sure, from time to time, that your home is as efficient as it can be.
2. Green Tech: eco-Friendly Apps
If you want to be part of Earth Day, but don’t have the time to do it, your smartphone or tablet will be a handy tool. There is a world of eco-friendly apps that allow you to check your energy usage, track how much food you waste and even find environment-friendly tips.
RecycleNation, for example, is a helpful app that lets you search for the nearest recycling stations, as well as find spots where you can mail recycling items. This a useful tool for people who want to recycle more but don’t know where to start.
In case you’re concerned about your carbon footprint, an app called Carbon works as a social game in which you can check your carbon emissions at home, compare with friends and find ways to reduce your carbon usage.
For people who want to combine eco-living with a healthy lifestyle, EWG’s Food Scores is a compelling app. The software has a large data bank with information on products from more than 1,500 brands, which includes details such as nutritional info, ingredients, chemicals used and production methods.
3. Review Your Habits
Before you ask yourself how to take action this Earth Day, it would be smart to take the time to review your habits. In the midst of our busy day-to-day lives, we sometimes prioritize being practical and objective. However, if you take a look at your daily routine, you will probably find opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint without affecting your productivity.
From the minute you leave the bed in the morning to the moment you go to sleep, you can imagine what you can do differently today in order to reduce your impact on the environment.
4. Spend the Day Outside
Celebrating Earth Day may sound like a huge responsibility for some people, but the truth is that it can be really entertaining. A nice way of bringing the Earth Day festivities into your life is spending the day outside. Getting in touch with nature is still one of the best reminders of why we need to protect our planet.
At work or at school, you could suggest breakfasts in the yard, a walk in the woods or even an outdoor activity after work. If you have the free day, invite your closest friends to a hike or a swim in the ocean. Any small action will already be a celebration of nature and life on Earth.
5. Find Opportunities in Your Community
From major parades to recycling activities, many non-governmental organizations, municipalities and private companies have special local events on Earth Day around the world.
Whether you are a student, a worker, a retired person or a kid, there are workshops, festivals, parades, open classes, lectures, lab experiments, community cleanups and concerts all across North America, but also in the other continents.
Almost anywhere in the world, a quick search on the internet will be enough to find out all the Earth Day activities in your neighborhood or city.
6. Plant a Tree
If you want to make this Earth Day less symbolic and more concrete, why not plant a tree or even start a garden? Of course, such actions may be symbolic to a certain degree, but they can also be a tangible Earth Day memory that will last for years.
It all starts with plant seeds and cheap garden equipment. Then, some weeks from now, you will have the first seedlings growing in your backyard. This isn’t only about celebrating, but also bringing real change to your life. According to data from NC State University, each tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
7. Use Less Paper
Speaking of trees, have you ever thought about reducing your paper usage?
Don’t worry, you don’t need to ban paper at home or go entirely paperless at work. Still, we can use the tools we have at hand — including our beloved smartphones — to help us make rational use of natural resources.
For example, think of all the mail you receive every month. Could you replace some of those bills for electronic versions, or switch from traditional magazine subscriptions to digital subscriptions? Some of these changes aren’t only more environment-friendly, they will also make your life more practical.
From disposable paper cups to unnecessary envelopes and packages, it won’t be hard to find opportunities to use less paper in your daily routine. It’s going to be easy for you and wonderful for the environment.
8. Avoid Plastic Straws
The conversation regarding plastic straws isn’t hyperbole. Such utensils take an average of 200 years to degrade in nature and can have a harsh effect on marine life. That’s why environmental activists all over the world have been talking about switching out plastic straws for durable or biodegradable options.
Currently, the two most popular plastic straw alternatives are reusable or paper ones. Reusable straws are usually made of metal or wood and will last for years, so you won’t feel the need to ask for straws anytime soon.
If you don’t like the idea of carrying a straw when you go out though, you could prioritize choosing disposable paper straws over plastic ones. Paper straws take one to two months to decompose. If by chance they end up in the ocean then, they won’t cause as much harm as regular straws can do.
9. Give New Life to Old Items
Recycling is not only about putting stuff in the right recyclables bin. Many recycling projects come from giving new life to old items at home.
Every once in a while, you will find items you don’t want anymore at your place. Whether you donate them to the nearest donation center or turn them into new objects, you will be working toward a more sustainable life.
Earth Day celebrations also mean Earth Day crafts. This is a good moment for you to use your creativity and turn old items into new objects. From the easiest DIY projects to complex structures, there are plenty of ideas online, including quilts made of old rags, plant vases made of cardboard and toys made of soda cans.
10. Create New Goals
In case you think you don’t have enough time to celebrate this year’s Earth Day in big style, you can always start preparing for next year’s activities. This isn’t only about getting yourself ready for Earth Day, but creating long-term, sustainable goals for your life.
For example, how can you reduce your garbage production in the next 12 months? Are there opportunities at home to make it more energy-efficient? How can you start working to raise awareness in your community?
You can use these and other questions to help you set up your goals for the next year. And keep in mind that the more viable and affordable your goals are, the higher the chances of you implementing them in the months ahead.