Earth Day takes place around the world every year on April 22nd with the purpose to honor and appreciate the Earth and bring awareness to issues affecting the natural world we live in. On this day, we are reminded to take care of the planet and reconnect with nature. If you are not sure how to take part and what actions you can take to help, here are a few recommendations for sustainable practices you can implement into your daily life.
Clean Up Your Community
"Trash and debris in Bread and Cheese Creek before our spring cleanup on 4/5/14" by Clean Bread and Cheese Creek is marked with CC BY 2.0.
Littering is a big problem that not only makes your neighborhood look dirty and unkempt but also harms the environment. If you care about what your home looks like, should that not also extend to the image of your local area? Cleanups are efforts to pick up litter and trash from local schools, parks, rivers, and other community structures like a church or recreation center. You can join local cleanups in your area year round or organize your own to take part in creating a cleaner and more beautiful world. After taking part in a cleanup, you will most likely think twice before littering again and speak up if you notice your friends littering because you notice how one action can accumulate.
Trees are very useful in our lives, providing oxygen to breathe and valuable materials to create products we use everyday such as furniture, paper, and cardboard. Even though trees are a renewable resource because they reproduce, we have to make sure we are protecting them and not exhausting the supply too quickly. Forests help take CO2 out of the air and provide homes for wildlife, but around 18 million acres of forest are lost every year. Planting trees helps to offset some deforestation, and create reforestation. Other ways to help the effort of protecting trees are to reduce and reuse any tree-based products. For example, choosing paperless billing, recycling cardboard, and upcycling wood you would otherwise throw away.
"Environmental Awareness Fair at The Art Institute of Portland" by Art Institute of Portland is marked with CC BY 2.0.
One of the biggest ways you can take action and promote sustainable practices is to spread awareness. Our world is vast and has an abundance of interesting things to discover so there is always an opportunity to learn more. There are countless environmental documentaries and films you can watch to expand your knowledge about nature and how we can play a part in it. You can attend or host a film screening in your community to increase the impact and reach of the entertaining content available. If you are more of the book club type, there are also many powerful books you can read and share to further educate. There are also other creative ways you can share knowledge and use your voice depending on your interests and skills. Communicate your passion for the environment through essays, poetry, or art. Encourage your school, community, or company to host an event such as a festival, fair, presentation, or nature walk to get others excited and involved as well.
Get Crafty and Upcycle
"Upcycled Plastic Milk Bottle into Gift Box ~ 6 of 6 photos" by Urban Woodswalker is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Upcycling means giving new life to old items instead of disposing of them. This can save you money and provide an opportunity for a fun arts and craft project to keep you entertained, especially when your not sure what to do with more time at home. Nurture your creative side and look for ways to reuse materials you would normally throw away. Something as simple as a tin can can be used for many purposes, including as a planter, a pencil holder, or even a windchime. For those celebrating a traditional ten-year anniversary, this upcycled tin can also make a great personalized and heartfelt gift. Next time, you are looking for a fun activity to do at home, look no further than your own trash, so to speak.
Get Active and Explore
"Get active during Recreation and Parks Month" by Government of Alberta is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Going outdoors is also another fun activity that can be a great sustainable practice. Get in touch with nature by going on walks or hikes and making note of your observations. You might notice beautiful aspects of nature that you would otherwise overlook so next time you are stuck in traffic, you can remind yourself to admire the sunset. It is easier to take care of something, once you realize the value of it. By appreciating the natural world around us, we might be encouraged to give back to it. When you are out of the home, you will also be conserving energy by decreasing the amount of time you might otherwise be devoting to electronics. This is also shown to increase your overall happiness and health by lowering your level of the stress hormone, cortisol. There are other unique ways you can spend time and give back to nature. Visit your local zoo, farmer’s market, arboretum, or natural museum and ask if there are any ways you can volunteer or become a member to support their efforts.
Look Into Your Eating Habits
The food you eat matters because it has internal and external effects, in your body and on the planet and other humans. Your "foodprint" is a way to calculate and quantify the impact your food has based on what it is, how it was produced, and where it comes from. This accounts for factors that you might not actively consider while you're shopping in the grocery store or at a restaurant. While no one diet may fit all, it is important to realize the impact you have to make more conscientious decisions. One way you can eat more sustainably is to shop what is in season in your area. Seasonal and local food are fresher and farmers do not have to use as many chemicals to make them last longer. They also require less transportation and when picked at ripeness are more full of flavor and nutrition. Another sustainable food practice is to reduce food waste. Don't throw away food or polish off your plate, instead save any leftovers to eat at a later time and get creative with ways you can use food before it expires and make it last longer. You might even think of a way to turn your creative idea into a multi-million dollar business.
Start a Garden
Easiest way to know where your food is coming from is to grow it right in your own backyard. If you don’t have the yard space, you can even garden indoors with grow lights to supplement light for your plants. Regrow your vegetables and herbs from scraps, such as potatoes, onions, garlic, and celery. You can also use your food scraps to support your gardening by trying your hand at composting. Gardening also makes it more accessible to incorporate more vegetables and herbs into your cooking. You might try out new recipes and by eating more plants, reduce the amount of meat and dairy you consume.
The world can feel like a lonely place, especially now. However, there are many communal structures in place that provide benefits for all such as libraries, parks, community gardens, and public transportation. When we take part in the community, we improve the funding and demand for these pillars of society and create more prosperity. When possible, try to decrease your own spending and use the local resources available to you. Instead of driving your car to the park or a restaurant, consider biking, walking, or taking public transportation to one near you. If you are interested in purchasing a new book, try checking if your library has it available. Interested in a new fashion trend but are unsure how long it will last? You can stop by a local thrift store and see if you find a similar item there or do a clothing swap with friends to spruce up your wardrobe. Another sustainable fashion tip is to mend your clothes or take it to a tailor for longer use before replacing it.
Reuse Everyday Items
What do you do with those single use plastic bags from the grocery store? If your answer is to recycle them, think again because they actually jam the processing equipment. Instead opt for reusable bags to carry your groceries. You can even look into reusable produce bags to reduce the amount of food packaging that is needed. You might have also heard about the importance of using reusable straws, but there are other reusable everyday items you could be using to increase your sustainability efforts. Reusable water bottles are an easy swap that can save you money and the environment. For those who prefer warm drinks, a thermos or mug is a better solution than those disposable cups you might use at work or at a coffee shop. That is not the only disposable product you might use when you are out and about, those utensils also add up, so we recommend investing in some reusable utensils to easily carry with you.
By now, you have heard the advice to recycle over a hundred times. Although it might seem like an easy enough thing to do, the instructions are not clear. Just like taxes or balancing a checkbook, we were not taught how to properly recycle. If done incorrectly, it creates more harm than good over the long-term, even though we may be well-intentioned. Here are a few quick tips to provide some clarity. Make sure to clean out recyclable material before you throw it in the bin. Items should be no smaller than a credit card and should be clean enough that you would use it again. Also, do not recycle something if you are unsure. Some products are deceiving and are not actually recyclable. For example, plastic hangers or cardboard pizza boxes.
Use LED Lights
LED lights are more energy-efficient than regular incandescent lights. This is not only better for your bank account with more bang for your buck but also better for the planet. It may cost more upfront but it is a smart investment in the long run. All of our Soltech Solutions grow lights use LED technology and are made to last longer, with better quality than other brands. We also provide timers with our high quality LED grow lights which allow you to make sure the lights are only on when you and your plants need them. Turning off lights when you are not using them also helps to lower your carbon footprint. In honor of Earth Day, a portion of our proceeds on Friday April 22nd, 2022 will be donated to Earthday.org to support our mission to make life a little greener.