Earth Day was celebrated across the globe on the weekend (Saturday 22 April), as in recognition of this important event, we’re sharing our tips on how we can each reduce our environmental footprint.
Earth Day first originated in 1970, and is now a global event, celebrated in nearly 200 countries, and more than a billion people every year. Earth Day in 2017 is just as important as it was in 1970 - we’re still facing climate change, as well as reticent politicians and industrial waste.
But other than raising worldwide awareness and calling for large-scale change, there are things that each of us can do every day to make sure we’re not doing unnecessary harm to our planet.
Here are our 10 ways to reduce your environmental impact.
1. Stop using plastic bags
When you think about it, we don’t need plastic bags in our lives at all. It can take up to 1000 years for a single plastic bag to decompose, and they are one of the main killers of marine wildlife. So it’s important to reduce your plastic bag usage in every way that you can. Greenpeace are running a petition at the moment to ban plastic bags altogether in your state. You can sign it here.
2. Skip the disposable items
Single use plastics and items to skip include plastic water bottles, disposable utensils and coffee cups. Instead of using plastic water bottles, investing in a glass bottle such as The Bare Flask is a good idea as it is environmentally sustainable, and made from glass and bamboo, which won’t hurt the environment. To take it a step further, you could even try the Plastic Free July challenge that’s happening across the world.
3. Know what to recycle
A lot of people are still confused about what plastic you can and can’t recycle. Byron Bay for example, now has the ‘bag the bag’ mantra, which encourages locals to bundle their plastic bags before placing them in the recycling bin. Your local council should have clear guidelines for recycling, and they’re usually a good place to start.
4. Go paperless
This one is easy to implement, as there are online storage facilities that are more effective than our own paper filing systems. Google drive is a great example - it can be used to store all of our important documents, take notes, keep files, create spreadsheets, calendars, etc. There are also web applications such as Asana and Slack for all of your organisational needs. In time, you won’t need to rely on a pen and paper for much.
5. Reduce electronic usage
Turning your electronics off at the wall, or unplugging them can save a lot of energy expenditure. Your TV, computer, microwave and even some washing machines have a 'standby' mode, which means they're still using energy even when they're turned off. It’s therefore important to choose appliances with a good energy rating, and to turn them off at the wall when not in use.
6. Veggie garden and compost
Growing your own produce helps the environment by reducing the emissions and fossil fuel pollution used to transport foods to the supermarket, and if you grow your plants organically, without pesticides and herbicides, then you’re ensuring that the earth will return to it’s natural state without damaging the soil and making it harder for plants to grow in future. You can also make compost from any food waste and use it to fertilize your garden - the team at Bare Blends use the leftover banana peels from the smoothie bar for compost at home, and more often than not, this compost works better than store-bought fertilizers. Read 6 Reasons Why Growing A Veggie Garden Will Improve Your Life for more on this.
7. Read ebooks
In the US, there are over 30 million tree cut down each year to produce paper that makes books alone. Reading your books, newspapers and magazines online is often easier and cheaper than buying them. Downloading the Kindle app on your laptop or tablet is a great place to start, and most books can be bought in ebook form from Amazon and elsewhere.
8. Drive less
This one can be hard to implement, depending on where you live, but small things like carpooling with a coworker to work, or condensing trips to the shops by buying all your groceries in one place will make a difference.
9. Adopt water saving habits
Take shorter showers, and if you need to wash your car, take it to the car wash - it uses significantly much less water than would be used at home.
10. Leave only footprints behind
There’s a mantra that says ‘leave only your footprints behind’, and it’s an idea that we should all live by wherever we go - especially at the beach or public spaces. If everyone was accountable for their waste, our planet would be litter free, greener, and healthier.