Earth Day is right around the corner and, if you’re anything like us, you’re itching to do something kind for Mother Earth in order to celebrate. But, with everyone going on in the world, you might find it a bit hard to make any sort of grand gesture, like organizing a beach clean-up or making a hefty donation to your favorite nonprofit.
Luckily, there are lots of small ways you can honor our planet this Earth Day, including changing some daily habits in order to make them more eco-friendly. The best part is, these are sustainable changes that can really last, so you’ll be helping the planet not just one day a year, but all 365 of them!
We’ve thought of a few ideas to get you started, some habits to get rid of and a few you can replace them with.
Instead Of: Tossing out all those plastic grocery bags….
Try: Investing in some sweet reusable shopping bags.
Did you know that a single plastic grocery bag can take at least 1,000 years to biodegrade? Meanwhile, reusable shopping bags are awesome for a variety of reasons:
1) they curb unnecessary plastic waste.
2) they save space (no more having to lug home 10 plastic bags full of groceries).
3) they’re SO much sturdier than those flimsy plastic bags (have you ever had a gallon of milk bust through the bottom of a plastic grocery bag and burst open all over your feet? Because we definitely have.)
4) they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs.
Check out Baggu for some cute and affordable options. They currently have a 25% off sale site-wide in honor of Earth Day. Plus, for the month of April, they’re donating 10 cents of each sale to the Surfrider Foundation.
Instead Of: Receiving a bunch of paper mail that you end up tossing anyways…
Try: Going paperless with your mail.
There are a few different ways you can do this. You can start by getting your name taken off some direct mailing lists by registering through this site. Also, when it comes to bills (bank statements, utility bills, medical bills, etc), most companies and banks have a paperless option, where all of your bills are sent electronically. Besides saving paper, this trick also saves some space in your filing cabinets (and your mailbox).
Instead Of: Tossing out any packaging materials you’re sent…
Try: Reusing or repurposing those materials.
Think about all that online shopping you do… and now think about all of the packaging used to ship your orders. It’s so easy to rip into all those packages and just toss the pieces away when you’re done, but next time you get a package (cardboard, plastic, paper, whatever material), try opening it carefully so you can save it for another time.
If you have the space in your home, find somewhere you can store packaging materials until you need to send something yourself. This creates a cycle of reuse instead of waste, plus it saves you the money and hassle of having to go out and buy materials each time you need to ship a package. Take that Amazon box you were going to throw away or recycle and turn it into a care package for a friend!
Instead Of: Throwing away leftovers that have gone bad…
Try: Learning to compost.
Composting – everyone’s talking about it, but how many people are actually doing it? Or even know what it is? To break it down simply, composting is basically just taking certain materials that would normally be thrown away (food scraps, coffee grounds, broken tree limbs, egg shells, etc.) and collecting them into a pile that can eventually be used as fertilizer for soil.
There are so many benefits to composting: it reduces your carbon footprint, decreases waste ending up in landfills, enriches the soil, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. But, there are also a lot of ins and outs to composting, and several different ways to do it. You can keep your compost pile in the backyard or in an indoor bin. You can incorporate worms into your bin, or keep it worm-free. You can even find a local compost pickup service to take care of your compost pile for you.
To help navigate the strange (but beneficial) world of composting, we’d recommend visiting the EPA’s site for some useful tips and strategies.
Instead Of: Tossing out spray bottles once they’re empty.
Try: Reusing them by filling them with DAZZ.
You had to know we were going to hit you with this one. But single-use plastic bottles are a big problem! People in the US throw out over a billion plastic spray bottles every year, and where do they end up? Usually in landfills or the ocean, neither of which are ideal destinations.
This is an easy fix, though, at least on an individual level. All you have to do is hang on to your spray bottles, even after they’re empty, and keep reusing them over and over again. For 32oz ones, fill them up with lukewarm water and drop a few DAZZ tablets in there. For smaller spray bottles, you can turn them into plant misters! Just rinse out any leftover residue from whatever was in there before, then fill them back up with water.