Earth Day is April 22nd, and we're gearing up to give our planet some extra TLC to celebrate! We're sharing fresh ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle to keep sustainability at the top of your mind on Earth Day this year, and our hope is that you'll adopt a few to keep going year round!
Everyone knows about the 3 R's - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. The phrase is easy to remember, but in practice, it often first takes awareness to recognize where we could focus our efforts, and then it takes some planning to implement. So we've rounded up some easy, eco-conscious ideas to try out for a day that minimally impact our way of life, have maximum positive impact on our planet, and fall into the 3 R's.
One of the most widely used products in the world, plastic, has been an even larger topic of conversation lately with the Biden administration's push to reduce oil and gas exploration and production. Rather than trying to remove plastic from your day, try going a day without using any one-use plastic products such as water bottles, plastic cutlery and plates, plastic grocery bags, etc. Once you begin to build an awareness of how much plastic you use, gradually start to reduce your use by carrying a reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle to refill throughout the day, and keeping a set of metal cutlery and a plate or two in your desk drawer at work.
Electricity is also an easy thing to reduce usage of. Instead of turning on an overhead light, try using a lamp with an LED bulb or opening up some blinds during the day to let in more natural light. Wear layers and add and remove clothing during the day instead of changing the thermostat, and turn off the lights every time you leave a room. Choose an electricity plan that includes renewable energy to reduce your carbon emissions, and choose to walk or bike or try out a ride-share service or public transportation instead of driving. Consolidating vehicular trips or turning off an idling car makes a small difference that can add up to a much larger one when our efforts are combined.
Consider eating vegan or vegetarian during the week, or if that's not feasible, implement Meatless Mondays in your household and try new vegan recipes once a week. About 10% of our greenhouse gases come from the agriculture sector, including methane produced by livestock raised for consumption and the gases from livestock manure, and by changing our eating habits we can redirect our purchasing power towards more carbon-friendly vegan meat alternatives.
Instead of those plastic grocery bags we mentioned above, try carrying around a few reusable fabric or paper bags with you so when you're offered plastic, you have a ready alternative.
Saving product packaging and using it for another package or purpose is a great way to reuse something that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Reuse your uniquely shaped glass bottles as vases, make a child's piggy-bank out of a coffee creamer container or an old pickle jar, and save that used orange juice jug for picnics or to water your plants with.
Instead of buying new clothes, start using a clothing resale service like Poshmark, Mercari, Thread-Up, or Tradesy. Not only will you get great deals on often lightly used or just-tried-on-but-never-worn clothing, but you can also resale that jacket that's been hanging in your own closet for 6 months that never fit or those shoes that pinched that you wore once and never will again.
If you have the privilege of a recycling service that comes to your home or apartment, use it! A one-time look into your local recycling company's policies for recyclable materials will help you ensure you're following their rules for materials that can be recycled. Many of us believe we're recycling by just tossing our plastic into a bin without understanding what is actually able to be recycled, and are guilty of well-intentioned but unfortunately not productive "wish-cycling". Some examples of items we often THINK are recyclable but aren't are plastic lids, plastic bags, unwashed plastic containers, cardboard pizza boxes (if they're greasy they can't be recycled), plastic straws, and dirty paper products (think used paper towels and napkins). If you're going to the effort of recycling, take it one step further and make sure your effort is realized by following the guidelines!
We mentioned purchasing up-cycled or resale clothing earlier, and we also want to bring your attention to companies that make new pieces of clothing from recycled fabrics. Companies including Everlane, NAKEDCASHMERE, and COS make luxury and long-lasting clothing items such as cashmere sweaters and silk shirts from recycled cashmere and silk. There are also companies that focus on sustainable production practices, including denim manufacturers like Levi's that have reduced the staggering global average of 1500 liters of water it takes to grow enough cotton to produce one pair of jeans by using recycled cotton and reducing their water use during manufacturing, and have also eliminated or reduced the use of chemicals like bleach during the denim manufacturing process.
Choosing to buy from a brand that offers recyclable packaging or takes back empty containers to recycle them such as M.A.C. Cosmetics, Walgreens (prescription bottles), and HP's recycled ink cartridge program are also small changes that can make a big impact.
Raising our awareness, implementing a few best practices, and making some small changes one day a year is a great start to contributing towards a healthier planet. If we all commit to making small but consistent changes, together we'll contribute to a large positive impact. Imagine what one small change implemented by every person worldwide could do!
We hope that by putting sustainability at the forefront of our minds and consciously thinking about what we're using throughout the day opens our eyes to ways we can live a more eco-conscious lifestyle year round.