This year’s Earth Day celebration is special because residents of the planet have seen firsthand what a difference a change in their actions can make.
You guessed it: COVID-19.
The pandemic forced everyone to stay home, and that means less traffic on the roads and fewer airplanes in the air. Photos from around the world and from satellites show how much cleaner the air is.
The Great Shutdown didn’t end all of our planetary woes, though. More people turned to online shopping to avoid venturing into brick-and-mortar stores, which translates into more packaging. Ditto for things like use-and-toss tableware, as restaurants upped their delivery game; latex gloves; and antibacterial wipes.
For people looking to change their planet-damaging habits, Earth Day, which was first celebrated in 1970, is a great time to start. According to earthday.org, more than 1 billion people mark April 22 as a day of action.
Here are some tips:
- Recycle: Yes, we’ve heard this a million times before, but it works. Sort your garbage—paper, plastic, glass.
- Recycle, food edition: Your table waste also can go to good use. Consider composting with scraps. And if you’re a restaurant owner, your used cooking oil can have a second life by transforming into alternate vehicle fuel.
- E-cycle: Make sure you dispose of your e-waste correctly. By getting rid of it the way your municipality advises, you’re ensuring that chemicals in that old computer, TV, or smartphone don’t leach into the soil. Better yet, see if your old electronics can be refurbished for someone else.
- Donate: That old fax machine isn’t the only thing someone else might be able to use. Give clothes, housewares, and even your car to charities that can help pass them on to others.
- Shop smart: Buy items that aren’t harmful to the planet. Have you seen some of the clothes, footwear, and accessories made from recyclable materials? In addition, be cognizant of packaging and try to keep it to a minimum.
- Reuse: Re-purpose household items for other jobs, such as plastic produce bags to line bathroom garbage cans and turning glass packaging into tableware. This also means borrowing, rather than buying, things you don’t need for very long, so ask your neighbor if you can borrow that “happy birthday” banner and check tools out of your local library.
- Support: Spend your money at businesses that are dedicated to a greener earth. That neighborhood bar that no longer uses plastic stirrers? Check. The national retail chain that has pledged to donate millions to cut their carbon emissions? You got it.
- Raise your voice: Call or write to your local, state, and federal lawmakers to let them know how you feel about laws and policies that govern how we treat our little corner of Earth. Attend legislative meetings, go to rallies, and react to policy changes that you hear about in news coverage.
- Reduce your carbon footprint: This can mean anything from buying energy-efficient appliances, cutting down on short car trips for errands, and eating local to being conservative about heat use in the summer and air conditioning in the winter, installing a low-flow shower head, and installing solar panels at your home or business. Another option is buying carbon offsets.
- Contribute: Give your time or money to local, national, or international organizations that are working to improve the health of the planet. From animal conservation to clean water initiatives, there are plenty to support.