We have holidays dedicated to everything from flags to consumption (ahem Black Friday), so it only seems right that Planet Earth should get one too. On Earth Day, cities, businesses, and individuals all roll out the green carpet. No doubt you’ve seen lots of famous brands touting Earth Day initiatives or heard about eco-friendly events being planned in your own community. Unfortunately, most of these events have changed from “do something nice for the Earth” events to “buy this thing that is maybe a little greener than the alternative but mostly just something you need to BUY” events. But that doesn’t mean you should hide indoors feeling guilty on April 22nd. On the contrary, there are lots of easy and fun ways to celebrate Earth Day that can actually make a difference all year long. We’ve listed a few below, and we’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
1. Don’t Drive
I know, I know. At face value, this doesn’t sound like much fun at all. But that’s only because you’ve forgotten how awesome the alternatives can be. Give your car the day off this Earth Day. Plan to get to work, school, and happy hour using another, more eco-friendly mode of transportation instead. Walk, ride your bike, take the bus or train, roller blade or skateboard! Even carpooling is better than chugging gas all the way home and back just so little old you doesn’t have to burn any calories.
2. Recycle E-Waste
By now, most of us realize that recycling makes sense and we should do it. Slowly but surely, recycling has become available in just about every city and town. But what about the stuff that can’t go in the recycling bin? The EPA and other agencies suggest that electronic waste (aka e-waste) is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Chances are, you’ve got an outdated electronic appliance gathering dust somewhere in your house right now, and your neighbors probably do too. This Earth Day, help make sure those gadgets end up properly recycled instead of taking up space or leaching toxins in a landfill. Use this EPA tool to locate a responsible e-waste recycler in your area, and let your neighbors know that you’ll be happy to take their stuff in with yours.
3. Plant Food
In a world dominated by factory farms and fast food, growing your own food is a revolutionary act. Monsanto and its cronies want to make sure that they decide what’s in the food we eat, whether it’s pesticides or GMOs. Organic and locally-grown food, while vastly better for you and the planet, can be cost prohibitive. The easiest way to opt out of our corrupt food system without breaking the bank is to grow it yourself. This Earth Day, plant one thing that can be consumed by your family. Maybe it’s just a few basil plants, or maybe it’s an entire garden. Put it on your windowsill, your fire escape, or your kitchen wall. But no matter what, get something growing.
4. Share Something
When we think of doing something nice for the Earth, most people immediately think about picking up litter or planting a tree. But an eco-friendly lifestyle comes in all shapes and sizes. Recently, there’s been lots of excitement over a renewed interest in sharing time, money, and resources as a way to increase everyone’s access to things they need. Experts call this “collaborative consumption” or “the sharing economy” but we just call it common sense. This Earth Day, check out sharing services like yerdle, RelayRides, B-Cycle, and Airbnb, all of which can save you money and help you become better connected with your community.
5. Go Solar
You’re probably tempted to skip right over this option because you a) don’t own a house or b) don’t have the finances to install solar panels on it. But wait! Rooftop solar is only one way to turn free solar power into free, renewable electricity. Smaller solar harvesting devices are popping up all over, from pocket-sized phone chargers to portable multi-panel kits. Think about how many times you charge your phone or laptop. Switching just one or two devices to solar power can save you some serious money and take some pressure off the grid.
6. Get Outside
Earth Day is about enjoying and taking care of the planet, so why spend it inside, glued to a screen? This April 22nd, one of the best things you can do for yourself and the Earth is to remember why it’s worth saving in the first place. Despite our best efforts to pollute and destroy it, the Earth is still an amazing, beautiful place to explore. Go for a hike, take a nature walk with your kids, plan a picnic in the park, or a game of kickball with your buddies. Remember how great it feels to have the wind in your hair and the sun on your face! Reconnecting with nature is the best way to remind yourself why we’re fighting so hard to protect it.
Lead image via Joshua Earle, images via lindsaydeebunny | betsyweber | Mosman Council | canarsiebk | denverjeffrey | kiwanja | dpangandoyon