earth day, two ways.

April 17, 2017

I appreciate the idea that Earth Day should be every day, but as the official holiday approaches on April 22, this year I’m trying to do my part not to dismiss the celebration as a token. Here’s to using Earth Day as an opportunity to increase environmental and climate change literacy, put some Earth-friendliness into practice, and step up our personal commitments to living a little more lightly on the planet. Here are some ideas for places to start:

Cut back on your trash, two ways.
+ This is the week to finally work up the nerve to bring you own container into your favorite lunch spot and ask them to fill it up. Promise, it’s not so scary.
+ Continue your plastic-free grocery shopping habits. This week, focus on saying no to anything that comes in a plastic clamshell. 

Plant something green, two ways.
+ Plant a tree: good for shade, good for animals, good for fresh air, good for the Earth. 
+ No place to plant a tree on your own? Donate to the Canopy Project—an initiative to plant 7.8 billion trees globally before 2020.

Reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, two ways.
+ All energy isn’t created equal. If you haven’t already, sign up for clean energy so that you know yours is coming from a sustainable source.
+ If you have the local options, make an effort to include public transit in your weekly travel plans. If you don’t have nearby options, consider calling your local officials to see what plans might be in the works.

Save water, two ways.
+ Fill a glass bottle with water and put it into your toilet tank. The displaced water means your toilet will use less water with every flush.
+ Donate to provide places like Flint, Michigan with the filters they (still) need for basic access to clean, safe water.

Conserve electricity, two ways.
+ Warm weather is approaching, think carefully about when you turn on your A/C and whether you leave it on when you leave the house.
+ Surge protectors don’t just save your electronics from electrical surges, they come with a switch that can be turned off, which means that plugging a number of devices into one and turning the whole thing off when it’s not in use will cut down on phantom energy pulls.

Eat green, two ways.
+ Swap your avocado toast for toast with pea shoots (or another locally grown veg). (Here are a few reasons why you might consider the swap.) 
+ Support your local farmers and plan an Earth Day trip to a weekend farmer’s market.

Have a conversation, two ways.
+ Education is the greatest tool we have to protect the planet. Start a conversation with family and friends about the realities of climate change and what we can do to combat it.
+ If striking up your own conversation proves daunting, look up local Earth Day meet-ups and have someone else do the talking for you.

Enjoy the planet, two ways:
+ Pack up dinner, tote along a blanket, and eat dinner outside. Lay on your back for ten whole minutes and watch the clouds.
+ Look up a local Earth Day events and attend a concert, join a clean up crew, or otherwise volunteer and support local environmental organizations; love your neighbors and your planet.

For the curious:
+ My stainless steel lunch box is from my August collaboration with MightyNest. Here’s a similar one.
+ My trusty water bottle.
+ My fancy fork (found locally).

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17 Comments

  • Reply Amy April 17, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I love this post. I have to admit Earth Day wasn’t even on my radar, but I am now thinking of how to celebrate with my own kids. My brother and I were just talking last night about how peaceful and connected we feel when we’re outside, pausing long enough to watch a sunset or notice the trees. I love the idea of having a conversation, particularly as we try to find meaningful topics during family dinners that don’t resort to Uranus jokes. :). Thanks, Amy.

  • Reply Erin April 17, 2017 at 10:43 am

    I will be co-running my town’s Environmental Commission booth at the local Green Festival! I also am in the works for creating a local food swap within my neighborhood and re-vamping the local sustainability committee. 🙂

  • Reply Katherine April 17, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Great ideas, as always! I’m curious – do you use your water bottle for all kinds of drinks? I use a similar cup for hot tea/coffee and tap water but am tempted to buy a glass tumbler with lid and straw for my cold brew and iced tea.

  • Reply Judith April 17, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Hi Erin,

    This is an excellent post and is giving me the push I need to sign up for clean energy here in my new hometown. In the meantime, have you joined Moms Clean Air Force yet? We have over 1 million members — mothers, fathers, grandparents, and concerned citizens — and our focus is on clean air and children’s health. http://www.momscleanairforce.org/

    MCAF was founded by Dominique Browning, former editor of House and Garden and it provides information about air pollution, environmental toxins, and actions that we can all take to help #resist them.

  • Reply ANGELA April 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Hello. I´am glad know people like you. It is initiatives that promote the hope of have world better, our children deserve it!!

  • Reply SEM April 17, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Love this and I appreciate your dedication to doing your part and to educating others. What are your thoughts on the science march? The lack or organization and focus of this march has been a little frustrating for me, but for me this is not a non-partisan issue. We have people in power who are voting against our future, proposing legislation that drops vital funding for protective agencies like the EPA, shirking accountability, denying evidence-based research, and censoring scientists from reporting fact. Denying inconvenient facts is irresponsible and misinformation is criminal. How do we show our support in noticeable ways when there doesn’t seem to be a united front?

  • Reply Jane April 17, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Perfect post! Love the “work up the nerve” part.

  • Reply Emma April 17, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Love these ideas! I might add that eating meat and animal products is the most disastrous thing people do towards the environment! The meat industry consumes 70% of the world’s fresh water and is responsible for 15% of its carbon emissions. While avocados may not be the most eco-friendly vegetable, they surpass any animal products by a very long mile!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 18, 2017 at 6:35 am

      Yes! Oft-mentioned here and always a good idea!

    • Reply MissEm April 18, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Contributing to locally sourced, humanely raised, small farm animal products, and simply eating less meat, etc., than the average American also goes a long way to supporting better farming practices and consumer habits, and is so important in changing the way things currently work (since not everyone or even close to everyone will go vegan or vegetarian, but will consider making different choices as to how they get their animal products).

      • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 18, 2017 at 10:14 am

        Yes, agreed! And of course sustainable vegetable cultivation often relies on all sorts of animals (honey bees!) and animal by-products (manure! compost!) as well!

  • Reply Anya April 17, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Thanks for the helpful list! We live in SoCal, so the avocados are local (back yard! Still waiting for this year’s crop, though) and our power is solar panels on the roof with a whole-house fan at night to cool the house for a fraction of the energy cost of A/C. When I read those two, I felt lucky to live where I live instead of my usual transplanted midwestern girl grousing (“Gah, it’s too damn hot.”) 🙂

  • Reply Amanda April 17, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    Maybe this is a silly question but can your metal lunch box go in the microwave for heating up the food?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 18, 2017 at 6:34 am

      No microwave for this one!

  • Reply Lynn April 18, 2017 at 8:26 am

    I can’t give up avocado, and I feel guilty about that. But guac! And toast! And smoothies! To make up for it, I’ll just have to do everything else on the list (although some I’m already doing).

  • Reply Emma April 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Man, it almost feels like cheating living in California. No need to swap out my avo addiction, and lots of us are coastal enough to avoid the AC as well. Frankly, in the Bay Area, as summer arrives I’m more likely to want to turn on my space heater. But of course there’s always work to do. I’m terrible at turning lights off when i leave the room, so that and shrinking my meat consumption will be my newest self-improvement projects.

  • Reply Blair April 26, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Wow. I really loved this post. This is my favorite blog on the internet. Thank you for constantly pushing your readers to be more intentional. You inspire me endlessly. Thank you for that.

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