We’re quite a few months into the new year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a resolution (or ten), especially when they can help the planet. While planning to transform habits on the first of every year has its merits, anytime is a good time to start making positive changes. Those changes are especially important when it comes to disarming the ticking time bomb that is our planet. The Earth doesn’t have the time to wait. If you need an external incentive, Earth Day is coming up, so try making your green resolutions like you would in the new year!
Even tiny adjustments towards carbon neutrality and a circular economy can help. If you want to join the movement, here are 10 pledges you can take to lead a greener life this Earth Day. We’ve also provided some helpful links to get you started!
1. Only eat locally sourced and in season for the rest of the year.
Not only can we empower our communities by strengthening local food systems. When we support shorter, highly transparent supply chains, we also cut down on factors like waste, transportation, and poor agricultural practices while increasing the availability of more nutrient-rich produce. One great way to do this is to pay weekly visits to farmers’ markets or join a community garden or find a CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture) in your area.
2. Eat more plant-based foods
Source: One Green Planet/YouTube
The world’s obsession with beef, pork, and processed chicken has reached a tipping point. The livestock sector is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined. The UK just set a goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, insisting less meat consumption is key. By reducing the number of animal products we use, a radical shift in climate change can be achieved. See how often you can substitute plant-based ingredients for meat and dairy. Be sure to give the trusty Food Monster app a download for endless ideas on vegan meals!
Every day, the average American throws away 4.4 pounds of garbage, roughly 728,000 tons. Food makes up a majority of our waste at about 24%, plastics just over 18%, and paper and paperboard make up about 12%. The hazardous environmental conditions this produces are only compounded by steadily rising land scarcity. We’re quickly running out of time to counter this, so start cutting back on your contribution to these landfills today.
3. Be as paper-free as you can be!
In the U.S. alone, 1 billion trees’ worth of paper is thrown away every year. Not only does this result in devastating deforestation, but paper production also contributes to water pollution, poor air quality, and soil contamination, to say the least. Recycling is one thing, but there are plenty of ways around having to use paper at all. This guide to cutting paper waste has great solutions like converting to paperless billing, donating used paper to local schools and libraries, and more!
4. Avoid excessive food waste.
Source: PBS NewsHour/YouTube
While 1 in 8 Americans struggle with food scarcity we’re still throwing away almost 40% of our food supply. Besides the enormous amount of resources it takes to produce and ship our food in the first place, when it’s thrown away, it just sits in a landfill generating tons of methane. This is a green challenge that could easily become a part of your everyday life. You can achieve this by avoiding overbuying, composting, learning proper storage methods, and using leftovers as much as possible.
5. Buy in Bulk
Disposable containers generate 13 million tons of plastic waste in the U.S. Taking a few minutes of planning before you head to the grocery store can help eliminate that waste.
- Bring mason jars to the grocery store to hold bulk items or foods from the deli counter. Check out this expert guide to zero waste shopping from Trash is for Tossers.
- Consider buying bulk castile soap to use as hand and dish cleaner instead of buying a bunch of little bottles of different cleaners. Castille soap can also be used as body wash and shampoo.
6. Swear off all single-use plastics for a month.
Source: WWF International/YouTube
After food, plastic is the most ubiquitous form of waste in the world. A recent study showed that 91% of the plastic we use does not or can not get recycled. It’s clear that just reusing that sheet of cling wrap a couple of times isn’t cutting it. We need to try harder to avoid plastics made from fossil fuel-based chemicals designed to be discarded after one use. This may seem like an impossible challenge, but there are many simple approaches you can take. This website has tons of great suggestions, like avoiding that plastic wrap altogether!
7. Lower your next month’s energy bill by 50%.
Most of our electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels. Saving electricity not only reduces living expenses but it’s a must in curbing climate change. There are plenty of habits we can adopt to help cut back on our CO2 emissions. Turning off and unplugging all electronics when not in use and relying more on sunlight to name a few. Energy.gov is a great resource to help you find more ways to conserve.
8. Take only 5 min showers during the week.
Since much of the water we use is a non-renewable resource, efficient and careful use of water is vital for protecting the environment. The fact that the average American family uses more than 300 gallons a day is eclipsed by the amount used to power the industry sector. Every manufactured product uses water at some point in the production chain. Water shortage is a very real concern. Do your part by monitoring how much you use each day.
Go Slow Fashion
The fashion industry is a significant contributor to climate change, toxic water systems, air pollution, dwindling biodiversity, and more. It’s time we abandon this linear “take-make-waste” model in favor of a more regenerative circular economy.
Source: Bliss Foster/Youtube
9. Buy only second-hand for the rest of the year.
On average, we buy 60% more clothing than we did 15 years ago and keep each item only half as long. Most clothing produced ends up being burned or in landfills within just one year. Save the bank while saving the world and go thrifting instead!
10. If you must buy new, stick to sustainable materials.
Of course, it’s best to take care of the clothing you do have and avoid buying new, but now and then, you may want to add a fresh item to your wardrobe. Slow fashion means taking into consideration who made your clothing, what materials were used, and how they were sourced. Check out Good On You for an awesome source on brands that use ethical practices and which to avoid.
11. Do 30 minutes a day of research.
This is the easiest challenge of all. Devote time each day to expand your knowledge and read with purpose. Stay on top of current environmental events, dig deeper, and always check sources! If you can replace even a percentage of time you spend scrolling the grid, it can make a world of difference.
- Earth Day 2020: 10 Victories for Nature in the Time of Coronavirus That We Should Learn From
- 15 Eco-Friendly Products You Should Begin Using This Earth Day!
- Simple Guide to Waste-Free Grocery Shopping for Earth Day!
- Eat For The Planet This Earth Day With These 10 Recipes That Are Sustainable and Delicious!
- 10 Ways to Adopt a Zero Waste Lifestyle This Earth Day!
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