Here are 10 easy, quick things you can doto help you reduce your carbon footprint and protect the planet on Earth Day, April 22. Doing even one of these activities can make you feel good, and when combined with the efforts of thousands of others, they can make a real difference.
- Volunteer for a local cleanup. Search online for environmental groups in your area that are sponsoring volunteer events such as river or beach cleanups, tree planting parties, habitat restoration or any other activities that appeal to you.
- Eat local. These days, it’s getting easier to eat what your local farmers grow. Many communities offer local farmers markets, co-ops or subscription-based arrangements such as community-supported agriculture. Not only will you eat healthier as a result, but you will also reduce the amount of carbon emissions needed to transport your produce from the farm to your table.
- Clean out your closet or garage. An enormous amount of energy, water, raw materials and resulting waste goes into manufacturing new clothing, tools, cars, bikes and consumer goods. If you rarely use those things, donate them to a local charity. You’ll feel good lightening your load, earn a tax deduction, and pass on your items to people who will appreciate them.
- Vote with your dollars. Organizations such as B Lab and Green America’s Green Business Network certify companies as socially and environmentally responsible*. When you patronize certified companies, you support their efforts to make a positive impact on the world and benefit society.
- Plant a tree. Global warming happens when greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane build up in the atmosphere, trapping heat on the planet. Trees absorb excess and harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by driving the average car 26,000 miles. Plant a tree in your backyard, or join a local tree-planting group.
- Choose renewable energy. One of the best things you can do for the environment is to purchase clean electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar. If you’ve already made the switch, congratulations. Pick one or two friends or family members and tell them how easy it is to use.
- Leave your car home. Burning one gallon of gas produces about 20 pounds of CO2. Instead of driving to work or school, walk, ride a bike or take public transit.
- Buy local. When you purchase goods that are produced far away, a significant amount of energy can be required to transport the goods to you. Buying locally can reduce the transportation and the environmental impact of your purchase.
- Write a letter to your representative. What is your U.S. senator or congressperson’s position on climate change? What about your city’s mayor? Whether you agree with them or not, they serve you and should know your opinion. Write and tell them. You can write an old-fashioned letter, an email or a comment on their website. You might be surprised to learn that they not only read their letters but may even respond.
10. Skip the plastic. We produce about 300 million tons of plastic each year for bags, bottles, packaging and other stuff worldwide. Only about 10 percent of this is properly recycled or reused. The rest ends up in garbage dumps or as litter, where it can leach dangerous chemicals into soil and water, endangering humans and wildlife. Replace these throwaway items with your own bags, silverware, water bottles and travel mugs.
Pick at least one goal for the day. Try something you’ve never done before. Better yet, collaborate with friends and family. Make it fun or even competitive. See how many you can do and how many people you can get involved.
*Ethical Electric is a certified B Corporation and has earned a Gold certification, the highest available rating from the Green Business Network.