We all have seen the bumper stickers that say “we are what we do every day” and “change your daily rituals, change your life,” and frankly, they are true.
What we do every day, ultimately makes up our entire life. And by shifting a few small habits, and doing them every single day, we can truly change the world.
Our planet is in a predicament like we have never seen before, and unless we make major changes in our own behavior, there will be some very scary times ahead of us.
But we can do something about it.
It is my belief that if people knew more and were more aware of how their choices impacted everything around them, they would make better decisions. My mission is to draw awareness to the simple, yet immensely powerful, shifts that we can make in everyday life to save our planet.
And as leaders, entrepreneurs and visionaries, it is our responsibility to be role models of conscious living every single day.
Here are 16 ways you can act like every day is Earth Day.
1. Stop using single-use plastic
You may not have known that: “Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.” (ecowatch.com)
Now that you know, every day you can refuse plastic bags at checkout, no longer put produce in individual plastic bags, bring mason jars to the bulk section, use glass Tupperware instead of plastic sandwich bags, and if you must use a plastic garbage bag, use one made from recycled materials.
You may not have known that: “Plant matter doesn’t decay cleanly when placed in landfills: The layers of trash burying the plant matter create an anaerobic environment. This airless environment causes the plant matter, as it decays, to produce methane gas as it decays.” (sfgate.com) Methane is 20-30x more potent than carbon dioxide.
Now that you know, you can start composting all of your food scraps in a pile or a container at your own home. You can look into a compost pick-up service too, where they provide buckets for disposing your compostable materials and collect it from you as well.
3. Don’t eat animals
You may not have known that: “Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.” (worldwatch.org)
Now that you know, you can adopt a plant-based diet. Plain and simple, this is the most impactful everyday behavioral shift you can make if you care about the planet’s longevity.
4. Cut down on waste when you eat out
You may not have known that: Currently, around 40 BILLION plastic utensils are used in the United States within a year. (Worldcentric.org) Starbucks reportedly goes through 4 billion disposable cups, and it’s estimated McDonald’s serves roughly 60 million customers meaning it’s likely they go through approximately that many straws.
Now that you know that, you can bring your own mug when getting coffee or tea to go, bring your own water bottle (rather than accepting a complimentary water cup at cafes) take one napkin for your meal vs. a stack of napkins, bring your own Tupperware for your leftovers and refuse a straw or bring your own.
You may not have known that: Recycling one ton of office paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, and enough energy to heat an average home for six months trees.
Now that you know that, you can start recycling more strictly, bring recyclables that aren’t accepted by your pick-up service to a nearby recycling station and no longer buy products packaged in non-recyclable materials like Styrofoam.
6. Utilize renewable energy
You may not have known that: “The climate is changing and fossil fuel emissions are contributing greatly to that change. By contrast, solar energy panels and wind turbines generate zero emissions in their generation of electricity.” (greenliving.lovetoknow.com)
Now that you know that, you can do a quick Google search for companies in your area that install solar panels and schedule a consult for one of them to come out and do an estimate. Most solar panel companies provide an option to take a loan, or to lease the panels from them, which makes solar more accessible.
7. Plant trees
You may not have known that: Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. (Treepeople.org)
Now that you know that, you can go plant trees around your home or in your community. You can also donate to organizations that plant trees in locations where it really makes a positive impact on the surrounding community.
8. Carpool and cut down on transportation
You may not have known that: If 100 people were to take advantage of the carpool option every day, more than of 1,320 pounds of carbon monoxide and 2,376,000 pounds of carbon dioxide could be removed from the air. (ThEcoGuide.com)
Now that you know, you can carpool whenever possible, walk when you can, or ride your bike in those new bike lanes your city just created. If those aren’t options, you can consider an electric car too.
9.Reuse and fix things before buying a new replacement
You may not have known that: Reuse is the best green policy. Repair, resale and reuse keep equipment in service and out of the waste stream.
Now that you know, you can get to know a local tailor because they will be patching any holes or tears in clothing from now on. Get referrals for a trustworthy handyman who can help you with small home repairs as well. Other ways you can “reuse” are to find nontoxic glues for small cracks or breaks in certain items or to take out a good insurance policy on your electronics (or at least buy them refurbished.)
10. Don’t consume dairy
You may not have known that: A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. (EPA)
Now that you know, you can stop buying dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream. If you are particularly attached to the textures or experiences of these particular foods, there are a variety of dairy-free alternatives for each.
11. Conserve water
You may not have known that:Each American uses an average of 100 gallons of water a day at home. (EPA)
Now that you know, you can stop watering your grass, put a bucket in your shower to catch the water and turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or washing your hands. Other ways to conserve water are to stop eating animals (it takes more than 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1lb of beef), wash your dishes by hand vs. using the dishwasher whenever possible, and not run the washing machine until you have a full load.
12. Donate to grassroots movements and organizations
You may not have known that: Current funding for the environment is limited: In the U.S., only 3% of total philanthropy goes to the environment.
Now that you know, moving forward you can give a certain amount of money to an organization that strongly aligns with your values.
13. Volunteer to support environmental programs
You may not have known that: Activist movements depend heavily on donations and active volunteers for their organizations to function.
Now that you know, you can use this cool location tool to find grassroots movements in your area and reach out to them about donating your time and energy to their cause.
14. Avoid any products with palm oil
You may not have known that: “Deforestation for palm oil production also contributes significantly to climate change. The removal of the native forests often involves the burning of invaluable timber and remaining forest undergrowth, emitting immense quantities of smoke into the atmosphere and making Indonesia the third highest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.” (saynotopalmoil.com)Not to mention, the deforestation of these forests is also pushing the orangutan, Borneo elephant and Sumatran tiger to extinction, due to loss of habitat.
It is estimated that palm oil is in about 50% of all supermarket products, which means you are likely voting for this degradation without even knowing it.
Now that you know, moving forward be sure to read the labels on your food and household items, and chose the options that don’t include palm oil in their ingredient list.
15. Avoid GMOs
You may not have known that: “GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable.” (responsibletechnology.org)
Now that you know, you can choose organic and non-GMO verified products at the store. You can also get to know your local farmers at markets and through CSAs, and set yourself up to be voting with your dollars for the most environmentally friendly farming practices.
16. Grow your own food
You may not have known that: It has been estimated that produce travels an average distance of 1500 miles before it is consumed.” (Home Grown, Brian Halwell)
Now that you know, you can plant a garden in your backyard or in pots on your porch. You can also see if a garden tower is suitable for your living arrangement. Grow herbs indoors all year round, build your own greenhouse, buy or rent a plot at a local city garden and plant your own fruit trees that will thrive in your climate.