April 17, 2020
April 22nd, 2020 officially marks 50 years of celebrating Earth Day. Even after a half-century of celebration, Earth Day has maintained the same purpose: embracing and encouraging social and political action by bringing attention to and promoting awareness of how we treat the world around us.
The realities of climate change are challenging to face, but when we all put our best, most eco-conscious efforts forward, we can make significant positive changes. Earth Day serves as the perfect reminder for all humans across the globe that we’re in this together, and together we can mend and restore the planet’s health.
There are so many easy, eco-friendly changes you can make today in honor of Earth Day. From ending your single-use plastic usage to shortening your showers, being kinder to the Earth doesn’t require huge sacrifices. All it takes are small, meaningful adjustments to day to day activities.
If you're looking to make important, eco-conscious changes in your life, you’ve come to the right place. Take a look at the following eight Earth Day tips that will arm you with the knowledge to make the world a cleaner, greener place to be.
Earth Day Tip #1: Get a Reusable Water Bottle
Fact: Each day in the US, more than 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown into the garbage. The US alone consumes an astounding 50 billion plastic bottles of water annually. It is estimated that 80% of these plastic bottles end up in landfills, oceans, streets, and parks, harming a vast expanse of sensitive eco-spaces. To make matters even worse, it can take up to a thousand years for plastic to break down and decompose.
The Fix: Replace your single-use plastic water bottles with a reusable and recyclable water bottle. Not only will you be doing your part to save the planet from unnecessary waste, but you can save money, too. Switching to a reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle also helps ensure reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and crude oil consumption.
Pro-tip: Are you a regular coffee drinker? Fulfill your cravings in a more eco-friendly way by bringing a reusable mug to your favorite local coffee shop.
Earth Day Tip #2: Take Shorter Showers
Fact: As relaxing as long, hot showers can be, they release huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. It takes energy to heat your water and keep it hot for the duration of your shower. A typical five-minute shower creates 2.25 lbs of CO2. If your showers typically last over 20 minutes, your at-home spa session releases 9 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere. Now, thinking about how frequently you shower every week, every month, and every year—what does your carbon footprint look like?
The Fix: Reducing your showers to 5 minutes can exponentially reduce your individual CO2 emissions and help save water. In fact, you could also install a low-flow showerhead that outputs fewer gallons per minute than the average showerhead.
Earth Day Tip #3: Start Composting
Fact: According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps, and yard waste account for more than 28% of what the average American throws away. This compostable waste is sent to landfills where it’s unable to properly decompose and instead releases toxic methane gas into the environment. Over 250 million tons of trash end up in landfills, which only exacerbates the current climate crisis.
The Fix: Composting collected organic waste like food scraps and yard clippings can save money, save resources, and reduce the amount of garbage headed for landfills. With added water and a healthy dose of sunshine, your composted matter eventually decomposes into a soil-like substance that can be used to enrich your lawn and garden and replace chemical fertilizers.
To start at-home composting, you’ll need to gather the following three basic ingredients:
Browns - Dead leaves, branches, wood chips, and twigs,
Greens - Vegetable waste, fruit skins, grass clippings, and coffee grounds, and
Water - Enough moisture to promote the breakdown of your organic waste.
Earth Day Tip #4: Go Solar
Fact: Although electricity is a clean form of energy when in use, the generation and transmission of electricity pollute the planet. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, for the 2019 year, approximately 63% of electricity generation was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases), and about 20% was powered by nuclear energy. Each of these exploited resources releases a monstrous amount of CO2 into the environment and damages the air and can create waste byproducts that can endanger our water supply and other resources.
The Fix: Renewable energy is energy harvested from eco-friendly sources that never deplete. Solar energy transforms sunlight into electricity that can power your home and effectively reduce or even eliminate your dependency on conventional energy sources. Installing solar panels on the roof of your home can be a costly venture, but there are a number of options out there including PACE financing that makes it easier to go green.
Earth Day Tip #5: Build a Rainwater Collection System
Fact: The average American uses about 88 gallons of water a day at home. To meet the nation’s demand for water, groundwater is pumped to provide nearly 25% of America’s water supply. Groundwater pumping creates a myriad of serious environmental problems from land subsidence to mineral contamination.
The Fix: Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting and storing rainwater for on-site use. Providing an independent and free water supply, installing a rainwater catchment system for your home can reduce your dependency on groundwater, reduce your water bills, and reduce the peak flow volume from rainstorms.
Though you’ll need to boil and filter rainwater to ensure it’s safe for drinking, untreated rainwater can be used to wash clothes, clean dishes, feed plants, bathe pets, and so much more.
Earth Day Tip #6: Go Paperless
Fact: Americans use approximately 85,000,000 tons of paper a year, which is the equivalent of about 680 pounds of paper per person per year. Paper production is an intensive process that requires a massive amount of water, energy, and deforestation—all of which negatively affect the environment.
The Fix: Going paperless has never been easier than now in the digital age. Because almost everything is now available online, there are plenty of ways you can significantly reduce the amount of paper you use and receive. Here are a few of our favorite methods:
Opt for email receipts from purchases at stores
Pay your bills online
Remove yourself from junk mail and catalog lists
Sign up for electronic statements
Switch to e-books
Be more mindful about your toilet paper and paper towel use
Earth Day Tip #7: Switch Out Your Light Bulbs
Fact: Fluorescent and CFL light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury—a toxic chemical that can be deadly to the nervous system. When broken during disposal, the mercury inside of these bulbs is released into the environment, which adds to an already widespread contamination crisis. From the bioaccumulation inside sea creatures to poisoning our oceans, this tiny amount of mercury from home light bulbs poses a serious problem.
The Fix: Making the switch from conventional fluorescent or CFL bulbs to LED light bulbs is not only better for the environment, but it’s also better for your wallet. Offering the same illumination power, these eco-friendly bulbs consume about 25%-80% less energy than traditional bulbs and can even last 3 to 25 times longer.
Earth Day Tip #8: Explore Alternative Transportation Options
Fact: When driving in your car, you’re probably not thinking about the environmental impact of your everyday commute. Cars are responsible for a shocking 20% of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution. Every single vehicle carries an enormous carbon footprint with it, and the more you drive, the greater the effect.
The Fix: Ditching your car altogether may not be a feasible option, but reducing your usage can improve local air quality, and save you money...something we could all use a bit more of right now.
Consider opting for the following transportation options:
- BikingUtilizing public transportation
Want to explore even more ways you can reduce your carbon emissions? Check out the sustainable home repairs and upgrades you can finance through PACE financing.
Earth Day comes but once a year, but these eight lifestyle changes could be the stepping stones you need to make a lifetime of positive change. Saving the planet is no easy feat. But when we all work together to practice mindful eco-consciousness, achieving great change doesn’t seem as difficult. Even from the comfort of your own home, big change can be enacted—all it takes is a few ambitious, small steps.