EARTH DAY EVERY DAY: 50 WAYS FOR YOUR FAMILY TO MAKE SMALL CHANGES WITH A BIG IMPACT
Updated: Jul 24, 2020
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day we wanted to share 50 (or more!) of our favorite ways to help the planet. The simple ideas below will reduce your carbon footprint, contribute to a sustainable, circular economy and build a healthier, happier future for YOU, our next generation. If each of us can change a few of our daily habits together we can change the world.
RETHINK your purchase patterns, your lifestyle habits, and your relationship with "stuff". What impact does each have on the ecosystem, near and far? Just because something is considered normal and mainstream, doesn't mean it's ok for the planet. Consider where your food and other purchases begin, from how they're made to where they go when you're done. What is their full life cycle beyond the walls of your home? Being an environmental steward really comes down to one thing: mindfulness.
REDUCE your consumption. Lighten your impact by buying only what you truly need and using less of everything (water, electricity, paper, plastic, fuel) to cut down on resources from the earth that can not be renewed. Something as small as ordering your ice cream in a cone instead of a cup makes a difference when multiplied.
REFUSE all single use plastics and disposables including straws, cutlery, napkins, condiment packets and bottled water. Just say no! Instead plan ahead and bring your own reuseable or refillable options.
REUSE and repurpose what you already have. Can you find new uses for old things? From jars to bags to old socks- almost everything can have a second life with a little creativity and effort. And if you don't have it yourself- then it's likely someone near you does- Just ask!
RECYCLE the "right way" by learning the Do's & Don'ts of your local collection system and the hidden dark side of single-stream recycling. Look for the appropriate recycling codes on plastics and glass and make sure to eliminate any contaminants such as grease on cardboard or paint on paper.
RESTORE damaged ecosystems and replenish natural resources whenever you can. Examples include planting trees, removing invasive species, picking up litter, protecting wildlife habitat and supporting sustainable land practices: conservation, management, and permaculture.
DISPOSE RESPONSIBLY by parting with things in a way that will have the least impact possible. Not littering, not putting toxins in the trash, cutting your plastic six pack rings, not and donating or selling what you don’t want or need anymore are just the beginning of your role as a conscious consumer and global citizen. (There is really no such thing as "away". When you throw something away it has to go somewhere!)
PLANT SEEDS to improve air quality while providing habitat, shade and erosion mitigation for years to come. For even more benefits, opt for trees, flowers and other species that are native, pollinator-friendly, or edible or medicinal to humans.
UNPLUG electronics, wifi, and lamps when they’re not being actively used. This will lower your utility bills, decrease unnecessary energy consumption, while also reducing your EMF exposure.
POWER DOWN or program your HVAC, wifi or other systems to go off when you're at work or vacation. Turn off lights when not in the room.
GO THE EXTRA MILE by taking special steps to dispose of those hard-to-recycle items like ink cartridges, batteries, markers, electronics, carseats and more. Many things that you would assume end up in the landfill can actually be recycled outside of the municipal systems.
SUPPORT LOCAL farmers, bakers and makers. Buying food, produce, products and goods that are grown and made locally cuts down on resources used in packaging, shipping and transportation and sustains the local economy.
GO PAPERLESS by looking into junk mail removal, opting out of paper bills and saying "no thanks" to store or gas receipts. Use cloth toilet paper and paper towels that can be reused indefinitely by throwing it in the wash. Use apps, cloud storage or white boards for lists and calendars, transition your journal to a digital format, read used books, and download streaming music and movies. If you have to print something, do so on recycled paper, in small fonts etc
CHOOSE QUALITY products that are made to last. When you focus on durability and craftsmanship the energy used in manufacturing does not go to waste. This goes for everything from clothing to cookware.
GO NATURAL with organic cotton, bamboo, hemp or other natural or sustainable materials when shopping for clothing, footwear and household linens. Same goes for household cleaners and personal care products. Anything with "roots" in the earth or constructed with eco-friendly practices or post-consumer products are healthier for us and the planet.
THINK ALTERNATIVELY for your children and pets as well. Buy toys made with natural materials instead of plastic. Use cloth diapers and wipes for babies, and biodegrable cat litter and dog poop bags.
EAT CLEAN with the ‘Clean 15’ of produce, and avoid the toxic ‘Dirty Dozen.’ Eating whole foods that are unprocessed, unpackaged and not genetically modified is the way nature (and our bodies) intended. You will not only reduce waste and pesticide use this way, but you'll also support a healthy lifestyle.
SAVE YOUR SCRAPS from cooking and meal prep so that they can be used for everything from garden compost, houseplant fertilizer to flavor enhancers, veggie stocks, and food garnishes. They can even to be re-grown!
GO PLASTIC-FREE in your bathroom with bamboo toothbrushes, metal razors, paper cotton swabs, fabric shower curtains, menstrual cups, shampoo bars, and refillable glass bottles of soaps and lotions. Always avoid soaps, toothpastes and gels with beads (aka microplastics).
UPCYCLE materials into craft projects, handmade jewelry, costumes. Refurbish old furniture to give things a second life. Finding creative ways to give a new life to worn or discarded items decreases the need to produce new or raw materials which cuts down on air pollution, water pollution, landfill use, and even greenhouse gas emissions.
SHARE THE LOVE with others through age-old exchange systems like bartering, trading, and of course borrowing and lending. Even shared garden or co-housing spaces can build community and help us all avoid using and consuming resources unnecessarily.
SHOP SECONDHAND for clothing at thrift, antique, and consignment stores to avoid the unsustainable practices of "fast fashion". Search for what you need on social networks like Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor and Craigslist - that make searching and buying locally a breeze.
MAKE YOUR OWN household cleaning products (soaps, scrubbers, spray cleaners, and detergents) and body care products (lotions, lipgloss, sunscreen and more). When made at home in small batches almost everything can be made eco-friendly, affordable and nontoxic.
GO MEATLESS by eating vegetarian as much as possible. Even cutting meat consumption for 1 day a week saves innumerable resources. Drinking plant milks is another way to live better for the animals and the earth!
INSTALL ENERGY SAVERS throughout your home with CFL and LED lightbulbs, motion sensing lights, toilet bidets, or EnergyStar appliances. Capture the elements on the exterior with rooftop solar panels and rain barrels to save natural resources.
FIX UP and make small upgrades to your home to save energy. Installing new insulation to windows and doors, making repairs to leaky plumbing, and displacing water in the toilet tanks can same hundreds of dollars and units of electricity and water.
RECHARGE your batteries rather than buying disposable. And of course, don't forget to dispose of them responsibly once they're fully used up!
GROW YOUR OWN food with a vegetable garden, container herbs, or even on your countertop with vegetable scraps.
BE A FRIEND to wildlife by hanging a birdfeeder, pollinator house or bat box in your yard. Green your lawn by letting it grow naturally without sprinklers, irrigation or pesticides.
LAUNDER SMARTER by re-wearing clothes more than once, hand-washing clothes, washing on the cold cycle, line drying, using wool dryer balls and emptying the lint filter daily.
PLAN YOUR MEALS with batch cooking and meal prep to reduce food waste and the temptation to order take-out or delivery. Cook from scratch to save money, eat healthier, and reduce packaging waste. Staples like bread, soups and condiments feed the family while helping the planet.
BRING YOUR OWN water bottle to events, your own food containers to restaurants, your own travel mug to coffee shops, your own shopping bag to the store, and even your own cup, plate and cutlery to parties and social gatherings. Keep everything handy in your vehicle, purse or backpack so you’ll never have an excuse in creating waste again.
BUY PACKAGE-FREE groceries by shopping at farmer’s markets and CSAs. Stock up on grains, legumes, loose leaf teas, herbs, spices and other dry goods in the bulk section of your local natural food store or co-op.
KEEP FOOD FRESH by using reusable silicone baggies, glass containers, beeswrap, and other methods to make sure no food is wasted. The longer the food, the more efficient! When done so without plastic, it's a win-win!
SETTLE FOR LESS by adapting to life without all of the modern luxuries and "essentials" that we have grown so accustomed to. Buying ugly produce, bundling up to keep the thermostat low, opening windows when the AC is off, and staying close to home when vacationing are just a few examples. You can even explore alternative grooming with the No-Shampoo or No-shave movements that are gaining popularity.
CELEBRATE WISELY by choosing birthday and holiday gifts for loved ones that support the greater good without the longterm footprint, such as regifting, or giving experiences or consumables. Show your love by making your own wrapping paper, gift bags and notecards.
PARTY SMARTER by avoiding balloon releases, glitter and confetti. Even fireworks can have a negative impact on wildlife and the environment.
SUPPORT ETHICAL BRANDS that give back through programs like "1% for the Planet". Use Ecosia instead of Google each time you search the internet. They plant one tree for every query!
SPEAK UP to restaurants and businesses that use unnecessary plastics or packaging, or manufacturing practices that are not eco-friendly. A customer's opinion and feedback goes a long way!
GREEN YOUR CAR by keeping your tires inflated, driving gently and passively, and removing unnecessary weight or cargo to reduce fuel efficiency. Opt for hybrid or electric or biodiesel if car shopping.
DRIVE LESS by shopping online or working from home more. Also consider alternative transportation: walking, biking, carpooling, using a rideshare, public rail or city busses.
CHANGE YOUR HABITS in the bathroom by taking short showers instead of long baths, turning off the faucet when not in use and remembering “if its yellow let it mellow”.
READ LABELS on what you buy to see if there are any toxic ingredients and harmful chemical fillers. Beware of “greenwashing”, research what you buy in detail to know where it comes from and how it’s made and you’ll be surprised to find the hidden truth behind most products.
SHIP SMARTER by using biodegradable peanuts and padding and reusing cardboard boxes or envelopes. You can even tell Amazon to use less waste in your account settings.
BRING THE OUTDOORS IN with indoor plants that remove pollutants in the air, and use natural light whenever possible, so that the electric bill is lowered. Open the windows or hang out in your yard more to enjoy the countless mental health benefits of nature, to learn more about local flora and fauna, and feel gratitude for the magic of mother earth.
MEND & REPAIR everything from clothing to small appliances, to give perfectly good items a second chance so that they don’t end up in the landfill and replaced with new. Can't fix it yourself or find someone else to? Buy refurbished electronics and appliances from the manufacturer is the next best thing.
VOLUNTEER for local river or trail clean-ups with your friends and family. Share your skills and talents or other resources with your favorite environmental nonprofit organization.
VOTE for a greener future by researching and supporting candidates that value the environment. Whether it’s a local, state or national elections, choose leaders that hold businesses, corporations and themselves accountable for sustainability efforts.
USE YOUR PLATFORM to educate others on ways to be more environmental friendly, showing your network that it's not as intimidating or difficult as it seems at first. Be a leader that shows how accessible and wonderful nature is. Model green living so that friends, family and coworkers will learn from your example and understand the importance of "closing the loop".
SUPPORT NATURE EDUCATION by sending your child to forest school! Outdoor education and connection has proven mental, physical and emotional benefits for young children. Forest schools and other outdoor learning programs build generations of environmental stewards and scientists. The more people, young and old, there are who appreciate and understand nature, the brighter the future will be.
Remember, there is no Planet B. What we each do every day will determine the fate of those who come after us, as well as all of the plants and animals that we love and depend on. What other ways can you help our Mother Earth today for a better tomorrow? Leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your favorite eco-tip!
Want to make a difference in the future right now? Make a donation to our parent organization by visiting: theforestschoolfoundation.org/donate. Every dollar goes to advance life-impacting, earth-saving education programs across the region.