Earth Day is coming up fast (April 22) and now, more than ever, its significance is being recognized on a grand scale. Not least of which includes major labels and fashion industry heavyweights creating eco-friendly lines. But, hey, you're not H&M, so what can you do to throw a little extra love earth's way?
New York City alone produces four pounds of garbage per person, per day. Our landfills are overflowing. Americans' wasteful use of energy and water is at unprecedented levels. But it's not just an American concern. The Italian Mafia has started trafficking in toxic waste, illegally dumping the stuff for high paying clients all over Italy, ruining the natural beauty of its lands. No joke.
This holiday that—admit it—you haven't taken seriously in the past, brings about awareness for some very serious problems. Problems that need to be addressed far and wide. So without further ado, here are some simple ways to start more earth-friendly practices today. Share these celebrations with friends and family and you just might make the earth a better place for generations to come.
Be Down and Dirty
Do you know how much water it takes to fill up a bathtub? How about to run your 20-minute daily shower? Your dishwasher? The answer is, way more than you need. Third world countries struggle on a daily basis to have enough water to drink, let alone clean water with which to bathe, wash dishes and clean clothes. Show some solidarity and reduce your usual water usage. Can you reuse that glass? The one that just had water in it? Do you have to wash your hair every day? Those jeans can go without a wash for a while longer, too.
Ditch Your Ride
Bike it. Walk it. Even public transportation is better than using a good old fashioned gas-running engine. Can you imagine the money-saving potential behind carpooling or taking the bus on a regular basis?
Just for one day. Then, who knows, maybe one day per week. Having a vegetable detox day, especially if you commit to using locally-grown veggies, can make you realize how much delicious energy you're passing up when you drive through Wendy's on your lunch break.
Resist the Urge to Shop
We love to shop. You love to shop. But for one day, do you think you could chill on curating your online carts at your favorite stores? The fast fashion industry provides one of the highest and most voluminous turnovers in garbage production today. Shop your closet instead — there are probably 16 outfits you didn't know you had.
Have Dinner by Candlelight
Turning off electricity saves energy, so try having dinner without the lights on. Then try doing it more than once per year.
Organize a pot luck dinner (eaten by candlelight) with your friends. Everyone brings something to share. Forget the House of Cards marathon post dinner. Leave the TV off, play a board game or cards instead.
Start an Email Initiative
Make it a yearly Earth Day event to send an email to your congressperson, urging them to support green initiatives. You could even create a PDF, forward it through your contact list and collect e-signatures to show you mean business with your request.
Bet you thought that you only use energy when your electronics are turned on. However, everything in your house (or office) that is currently plugged in, from the coffee machine to the unused phone charger, is using energy. So go around and see what you can unplug.
Put a Plant On It
Plant a tree, bush or flower to give your home some extra oxygen. And if you're not into pretty petals, an herb garden on your windowsill is just as earth-friendly and more useful.
Do an Upcycle Craft Project
Upcycle.com is a blog that shows off amazing upcycle DIY projects. Not only can you get inspiration by seeing what other people have done, you can look up projects based on what materials you have at your disposal, like making a chair seat out of discarded leather belts.
I am one of the worst offenders when it comes to relying too much on energy-using technology for my insatiable curiosity and information pursuits. It's straight to the laptop or iPad for everything from downloaded magazine issues to e-books and more. If that sounds familiar, try reading something that doesn't use electricity. You know, like an actual book. Or a print magazine.