Written By: Isabel Powell
Celebrated on Thursday, April 22nd, Earth Day just passed, but that doesn’t mean the work is over! Although this holiday can sometimes be easy to forget, it’s important we take the day to appreciate all the Earth has to offer. From the water we use to boil that first cup of coffee in the morning, to the meals we share after a long day of work, the Earth provides for us. It gives us those bird songs that signal the beginning of spring, the warm sunshine on our backs, the colorful array of changing leaves in fall, and the pristine, snow-capped beauty of mountains in the distance. It’s the source of crashing waves, early morning sunrises, and star-lit skies at night. It nourishes, amazes, provides for, and protects us every second of every day.
Let’s give the Earth a moment to breathe, since, after all, it provides us with each and every breath. Take the opportunity to enjoy the unparalleled beauty of the natural world and appreciate the environment’s immense role in our lives. Choose to be outside if possible; soak up the sunshine and feel the pollen dispersing through the breeze. Small actions, like choosing to cut out meat for a single day, shortening a shower, or biking instead of driving, truly do add up. Skip your morning Starbucks and brew your own coffee at home. Most importantly, be conscientious of the environmental impact of your actions and how much weight the Earth has to bear to support you. Make tomorrow the day you choose to buy one less package of meat, use one less plastic cup, watch one hour less of TV, or use one less disposable bag.
Environmental Impacts of Typical Lifestyle Activities
Eating one less pound of beef means producing 14.8 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide and 0.126 fewer pounds of methane while saving 1,799 pounds of water. (You could eat 36 pounds of asparagus and fill a small pool with the water and energy you saved!)
Using one less plastic cup burns 3.2 fewer grams of oil.
Watching one less hour of TV produces 88 fewer grams of carbon dioxide.
Using one less disposable bag saves enough energy to drive a car 400 feet.
Sit Back and Relax: What to Read and Watch in Celebration of Earth Day
If you’re busy and don’t have the time to head outside or restock your fridge with environmentally friendlier alternatives, take Earth Day as an opportunity to learn more about the environment. Whether it is by reading uplifting poems about nature; diving into a dystopian, post-climate disaster world like The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming; bingeing an award-winning documentary on food choices like Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret; or listening to a new podcast such as A Material Girl Goes Green or My Ocean, make your entertainment educational.
Scroll Sustainably: Social Media Resources
For more fact-based information on climate change or beautiful natural photography, dive into the Instagram accounts of Leonard DiCaprio (@leonardodicaprio), National Geographic (@natgeo or @natgeotravel), or Oceana (@oceana). For tips on living a more sustainable and minimalist lifestyle, catch up with vegan cook Immy Lucas (@sustainably_vegan), lifestyle blogger Jihea Kim (@ecolifechoices), or activist Rob Greenfield (@robjgreenfield). Check out Little Sun, a nonprofit organization working to bring solar-powered energy to third-world countries, and the breath-taking, environmentally-focused artwork of its founder, Olafur Eliasson.
So Long, Fast Fashion!
Currently, fast fashion contributes 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and uses and pollutes 1.5 trillion liters of water annually. Synthetic fibers emit toxic gases like nitrous oxide that are 300 times as harmful as carbon dioxide. In addition to the environmental consequences, fast fashion is known for its dangerous and unfair working conditions. For those not quite ready to cut down on their shopping, turn to more sustainable brands for your new spring look! Patagonia is known for its environmentally friendly initiatives and is Fair Trade Certified, making it a reliable and convenient choice. Take a look at thredUP’s fashion footprint calculator to determine the environmental cost of your closet, and transition from buying new clothes to shopping more frequently at second-hand stores. Shop for biodegradable toiletries at Ecoroots, recycled billboard vinyl bags at Rareform, vegan makeup at Athr Beauty, biodegradable phone cases at Pela, or shoes made from plastic from the oceans at Rothy! Swap out paper plates for some chic bamboo ones from bambu, disposable paper cups for Kaffeeform coffee-ground recycled cups, and plastic bags for the endlessly reusable Stasher ones!
Outdoor Activities and Adventures
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try your hand at gardening, building a butterfly habitat or compost bin, or cooking a few new recipes! If you can’t make it outside, you can sponsor the planting of ten trees with every purchase at tentree, a sustainable clothing company. Consider adopting an endangered animal through the World Wildlife Fund. Or, to help get your kids or friends involved, pull out your colored pencils and work through the Environmental Protection Agency’s activity books. Even watching The Bee Movie, Wall-E, or The Lorax with young kids can be a crucial reminder of how much we need the Earth and its support systems!
This Earth Day, whatever you end up doing, strive to save and to learn. Every little bit counts.