Happy Earth Day! 15 Habits to Adopt for a More Sustainable Lifestyle
Happy Earth Day! The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, so this is the 52nd anniversary. We have made some progress since then. America's air, rivers and lakes are cleaner because of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, but we continue to face numerous environmental challenges like climate change, mass extinctions, over-fishing, ocean acidification, deforestation, mountains of plastic, and a global shortage of clean drinking water. So, adopting a sustainable lifestyle is more important than ever. Don't give up if you can't do everything sustainably; just pick a few of the items below to get started. If we all make some minor changes it will make a huge difference to the environment. And, most of these will also save you some money! 1. Avoid single use plastic whenever possible. Every time I drop the mayonnaise bottle I thank God for plastic, but the down-side to so much plastic is becoming ever more apparent. It's destroying our oceans and researchers are finding it in the water we drink, the air we breathe and food we eat. It's everywhere and we aren't sure yet what negative impact it has on our health. So, say no to plastic straws, give up single use water bottles, and take your own bags to the grocery store. 2. Buy second-hand. You can find lightly-used clothing at local thrift stores and consignment shops. There are also plenty of websites, like Poshmark, where you can find second-hand clothes. And, once you update your wardrobe, donate your old clothes instead of throwing them away. Many non-profit organizations survive on your donations by selling them at their thrift stores. 3. Drive less; bike or walk more. Or use public transportation. Your heart will thank you and you'll reduce your carbon footprint. 4. Plant a garden and a couple of trees. Put in native trees, shrubs and flowering plants. You will create a beautiful and healthy habitat for butterflies, birds, bees, and other local wildlife. 5. Reduce meat and dairy consumption. Animal agriculture contributes almost 15% of greenhouse gas emissions globally and meat consumption is linked to everything from heart disease to colon cancer. So, embrace a more plant-based diet. You really don't need to have steaks, chicken or burgers every night. Right? 6. Plant a vegetable garden and buy local produce. Skip that strawberry that was trucked 3000 miles to your grocery store. Instead, grow your own or frequent your local farmer's market, and eat the foods in season for your region. 7. Use less water. Take shorter showers and, for God's sake, turn off the water while brushing your teeth. 8. Take part in a beach, lake, river, or bay clean-up days. Get outside, make new friends, and have a beer with them when you're done. 9. Even after the pandemic subsides, if your job allows, work from home several days a week. Save time and gas. Ditch the commute! 10. Switch to online banking. You’ll eliminate the checks, envelopes, stamps and gas, and your payment will get there faster, reducing late fees. And, get your bank statements via email. 11. Buy from companies that share your values. Green America is a great place to start. They publish a "National Green Pages" guide that lists thousands of environmentally conscience companies, organized by the product or service they provide. Yes, Illuminate is a proud member of Green America. 12. Encourage your co-workers to use environmentally friendly office products, including recycled paper towels and copy paper. 13. Take your own insulated mug to the coffee shop. About 14.4 billion cups of coffee are bought in disposable cups each year and they all end up in landfills. Most coffee shops are happy to serve their customers in a reusable containers, and some even offer a discount. 14. Stop using chemicals on your lawn. The EPA estimates that we use about 90 million pounds of herbicides and pesticides on our lawns each year. Those chemicals end up in the groundwater and run off into our rivers, bays and oceans. And, trust me, no one cares if your lawn is bright green all year. So, just stop! 15. Register, campaign and vote for candidates that support the environment. There are many things we all can do every day, but we also need environmentally friendly laws and officials who will enforce them. Yes, in 2020 we got rid of the least environmentally friendly president in our nation's history, but this Fall's mid-term elections for Congress will determine whether we continue to make progress. So, please, support, campaign, and vote for candidates that care for the environment.
Happy Earth Day!