Earth Day, April 22, is a great opportunity to revive your earth-friendly habits and get inspired by the actions of others. It's easy to feel helpless in the face of climate change, but there are many ways that you can make a positive difference for our environment every day.
2015 marks the 45th celebration of Earth Day, and you can do your part to make it the best one yet. Here are 10 easy-to-accomplish things you can do today to celebrate the earth while reducing your environmental impact.
Make A Difference At Home And In The Yard
- Plant a tree. One mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and provide enough oxygen for two people. Trees planted near buildings can also reduce the need for air conditioning by 30 percent and the need for heating by 20-50 percent.(1)
- Get more houseplants. If you don't have a yard, you can still make a difference by having houseplants. Houseplants absorb carbon dioxide, but they also improve your indoor air quality by absorbing toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.(2)
- Take your yard waste to a compost facility. Many states ban yard waste such as leaves, branches, grass clippings and brush from entering the landfill. And for good reason. As they decompose, organic materials produce methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.(3)
- Start a compost bin. Not only will this reduce the amount of organic material you send to the landfill, it will also give you healthy dirt for your garden or potted plants. Among its many benefits, compost can enrich poor quality soils by adding nutrients, helping soil retain moisture, and even reducing pests and plant diseases. Healthy soil can greatly reduce the need for chemical pest control or fertilizer.(4)
Have A Greener Workday
- Commute by bike or on foot if you can. If your commute is 20 miles round trip, you'll use around one gallon of gas per day just getting to and from work. One gallon of gasoline gives off 19 pounds of carbon dioxide when it burns.(5)
- Walking or biking instead are zero-carbon ways to get around, but public transportation or carpooling could be another great alternative. You can even go car free to further reduce your carbon footprint.
- Try coworking. Do you work from home? Why not try coworking this Earth Day. The concept behind coworking is for people who work remotely and self-employed people to share a workspace, which also means they're sharing resources such as air conditioning and coffee pots. Make an even bigger impact by biking or carpooling to your coworking spot.
Reduce Your Energy Consumption For The Long Run
- Go meatless for one day a week. Meatless Monday might be a fun trend for you to join, but you can go meatless any or every day of the week. Meat such as beef, lamb, and pork takes a great deal of water to produce. Take beef for example: one pound takes 1,847 gallons of water to produce when you take into account the water used to grow the animal's food, the water it drinks, and the water used to produce the gasoline needed to transport the meat.(6)
- Go paperless with your bills. If you've been meaning to switch to e-bills, Earth Day is the perfect day to do so. Preventing one ton of paper waste is the equivalent of saving about 16 mature trees. You can still make a difference if you don't want to go paperless. Recycling one ton of paper offsets the energy needed to power a home for six months.(7)
- Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs and get in the habit of switching off lights when you're not in the room. CFLs require 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs. Over the course of its lifetime, one 40W CFL will prevent more than 500 pounds of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere.(8)
- Get a realistic idea of your energy consumption. Did you know that homes and vehicles generate nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.(9)? You can calculate your carbon footprint here and your water footprint here. Knowing how much energy you use is a great way to see where you can cut back if you are interested.
Everyone Can Leave A Positive Impact On Earth Day
Earth Day is a great time to start a new habit that helps the planet, or to get inspired by what others are doing to make a positive change. It may seem like these small changes won't make a difference, but just imagine if everyone in the U.S. did just one of these green actions. When you believe you can make a difference anything becomes possible!
On Earth Day, you can also make a difference in the life of a child facing a life-threatening medical condition. If you're interested in going car free or getting rid of an inefficient car in honor of Earth Day, consider making a vehicle donation to Wheels For Wishes, benefiting your local chapter of Make-A-Wish. You can donate online or call 1-855-871-9474 right now to get started. Your vehicle be recycled responsibly or auctioned to a new owner, but on top of that it will help grant a wish for a child in your community!