Earth Day 2022 is April 22 and there’s quite a few things that you can do to make your corner of the Earth better. It is also a great way to teach the kiddos that everyone has a duty to respect resources, wildlife and their environment. You don’t have to be rich or a big company to make an impact, you just need to pay attention and be responsible.
Eliminate single-use plastics from your home
The best thing that you can do is reduce your single-use plastic consumption. We throw away so many bottles and bags each year, that if everyone did this, there would be much less waste. Switch to refillables and choose glass containers that are easy to repurpose or recycle. Keep cloth shopping bags in your car and use them. Small bags are even designed to carry in a purse or wallet, so there is no excuse for bringing home another plastic grocery bag. Some states have even banned them, however if yours has not, take the initiative and start carrying your own. There are shampoo bars and toothpaste pellets that replace the containers and tubes. Invest in resealable and reusable containers for food storage and lunch boxes. Invest in a good refillable water bottle for everyone in the family. Use bio-degradable trash bags instead of the ones that stay with us for centuries. In the grocery store, purchase loose produce instead of the items shrink-wrapped on Styrofoam trays. There are a number of good, reusable produce bags on the market, so do your part and invest in a few. If you have a coffee maker that uses those little pods, invest in a refillable one and save the landfills by eliminating all of those little single-use plastic cups.
Don't waste water
Another thing you can do is conserve water. Don’t wash dishes with the water constantly running. When you steam or boil vegetables, use the water left behind to water your plants. There are lots of excellent nutrients that people flush down the drain and this is an easy and beneficial solution. In your yard, don’t grow water junkie plants and if you can, replace the lawn with grasses that are better adapted to drought, or even xeriscape with drought-friendly plants. Self-watering containers are another way that gardeners can conserve water. Make sure your faucets don’t leak and if you can, invest in a low-flow toilet. If that isn’t possible, fill a plastic container (that would have gone to the landfill) with water and place it in your tank. Just make sure it doesn’t interfere with the mechanism. There are specially designed bags that do not interfere, so if you’re unsure, get one of those. This displaces some of the water used when you flush. There are even adjustable flappers on the market that cut down on the water used and it goes without saying, if your flapper leaks, you’re wasting water there as well. Even renters and apartment dwellers can do this.
Recycle, upcycle and reuse to reduce trash
Re-use, upcycle and repurpose everyday items. Buy gently used second-hand items, especially if it is something that you seldom need. Frequent thrift stores. I have a closet full of wonderful designer and name brand clothing that I bought for pennies on the dollar, many items with the tags still attached. If you do buy new, choose good quality over price. No matter what it is, it will last longer and look nicer than the cheap, trendy items. Don’t give in to fads (unless you get them at the thrift store) because they are generally out of favor in a season or two. If an item of clothing is ruined, or no longer makes you happy, re-donate it, or use it to stuff pillows or pet beds that you make. Donate old comforters and blankets to animal shelters.
Make sustainable choices in your garden and grocery shopping
Help the planet by eliminating dangerous pesticides from your garden. Our fragile pollinators need all the help they can get and there are organic alternatives that are gentle on the beneficial insects, targeting only the pests. Learn to live with a little insect damage instead of being heavy handed with the pesticides. Grow some of your own food. There are a number of excellent raised beds, and container gardens that are productive and easy to set up. There are even lighted, hydroponic units for growing salad greens and herbs indoors, so even apartment dwellers can do this. Frequent your farmers markets. This supports your neighbors and has the added benefit of fewer food miles between the produce and your plate. The less something has to be trucked, the less fuel was used to get it to you. Plan your errands to accomplish a number of tasks to lessen your fuel usage. Walk, ride a bike or use public transportation if those options are available to you.
Remove invasives and plant natives
Take a day and head to your local beach or park and pick up litter. Join a group eliminating invasive plants from an area and of course, eliminate invasives from your own property too. Make sure whatever you add to your garden isn’t going to escape and multiply. Plant natives for the pollinators and as host plants. Even apartment dwellers can keep a couple of containers growing to provide nectar and pollen for our endangered bees. Yard clippings can be composted, or mulched right back in to the lawn. Mulch your beds to conserve water. Install a rain barrel to catch free water from the sky. Don’t hose off your driveway or patio, use a broom. If your lawn mower is gas fueled, keep it in top running condition to mitigate exhaust fumes. If practical, invest in an electric or battery powered mower.
Make plans as a family to reduce waste
Sit down with your family and discuss ways to be better stewards of the Earth. What is wasted, and what can you do to eliminate that waste? Make it a habit to turn off lights when not in use and not to let the faucet run while brushing your teeth. Every family is different, so discuss it and come up with a plan. It takes about 6 weeks to create a habit, (and even longer to break one) so things won’t happen overnight. It may work best to concentrate on a few things at a time instead of everything all at once. Everyone can improve, and depending on where you live, there are many changes you can make to be more sustainable. Let’s think about what we can do as Earth Day gets closer and strive to do our best to help the planet heal. After all, it is the only one we have.
When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commissions at no cost to you.