Thought Catalog
April 21, 2017

21 Small But Extremely Effective Ways To Help The Earth On Earth Day

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Pexels/Porapak Apichodilok

Earth Day (April 22) seems like the forgotten day. Everyone posts pictures of their siblings on #NationalSiblingDay or with their dog on #NationalPetDay, but no one really posts a picture for #EarthDay. Without the earth, we wouldn’t be here and we are destroying the planet faster than ever. The problem is that most people have an “oh well, I’ll be dead by then anyway” mentality and don’t change their habits.

Honestly, they could be right but to see the beautiful planet you live on become a human waste pit should be devastating to more people. Hearing about the ways we are destroying it every day should be incentive enough to want to change it and help make a difference.

So here are 21 small but super manageable ways to improve the earth not only on Earth Day but every day after, too.

1. Be conscious of your water usage. Water isn’t unlimited like we all think it is. Cut back on the time you spend in a “long hot shower” and you’ll start saving. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth. Don’t leave it running the whole time you’re washing dishes. Fix your leaky faucet or running toilet. These changes will also save you cash.

2. Use refillable water bottles. This goes with the first point but it’s also so much better for cutting down on plastic waste. You really don’t need to use plastic water bottles. Just buy a water bottle you like and carry that around with you, it’s more convenient, usually holds more water and it’s refillable.

3. Walk or ride a bike instead of drive. I know this isn’t possible for everyone with work commutes. I drive a lot but I always carpool when I can. It helps you save gas,  it’s better for the environment and it’s more fun to ride with friends. Riding a bike or walking is a great way to get places, it’s also a great form of exercise.

4. RECYCLE. So many people don’t recycle because it’s “inconvenient”……… I’m sorry, what? All it takes is throwing your cans and boxes into different bins. It’s not extra work at all. By recycling, you can reduce so much pollution and help cut back on landfills. There is absolutely no reason you should throw your cans in the trash.

5. Compost. It’s easy and will give you great fertile soil to garden with in the summer months. Just create a wooden box or bin of your choice to throw all your compost in. Every banana peel, egg shell, apple core, stems of broccoli, etc. can be composted and used again for the earth. It is so much more effective than letting it rot in a dump and let off greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

6. Plant a tree. Plant a little tree somewhere in your yard and watch it grow. Trees are very vital to our environment.

7. Get a programmable thermostat. Set it to be low or off while you’re away during the day and then have it automatically turn back on when you return home at night. You can also set it a few degrees lower while you sleep at night because you won’t even notice the difference. It’s also (again) a great way to save money.

8. Use solar energy. Solar panels are a huge cost upfront and I understand a majority of people can’t afford them but if you can they are great and they will save you a lot in the future on your electricity bills.

9. Drive a little slower. Honestly, I just discovered how effective this way for a reason I couldn’t control. My car started having problems so I was forced to drive 60 when normally I’d drive around 73 mph. I used more than a quarter tank LESS than I would have normally used going faster on a four-hour drive. It was shocking to me but it’s much more efficient for gas mileage.

10. Use cloth napkins. Paper napkins are such a waste and you’re constantly spending money on them to buy new ones. Try using cloth ones instead. They’re much more durable and you’ll get WAY more usage out of them.

11. Freeze your leftovers. Freezing food is a great way to preserve it and keep it fresh for longer if you know you won’t eat it right away. Cut back on your waste and save food.

12. Try eating less meat. Maybe it’s just one day a week, try participating in Meatless Monday and don’t eat meat at all on that day. The industry is pretty awful but it’s also not the best for the environment. I’m not saying to go vegetarian or vegan, unless you want to, but cut back on your meat and it will not only save you money but will help you incorporate a more healthy veggie lifestyle one day a week.

13. Cover your pool when you can. It stops evaporation but it also keeps your pool cleaner, requiring fewer chemicals and the filter to run less saving you money.

14. Change your lightbulbs. Fluorescent light bulbs cost more than regular light bulbs BUT they last up to 10 times longer than a normal light bulb while using a quarter of the energy! Once again good for your wallet and the environment.

15. Unplug your devices. Even when it’s “switched off” it’s still sucking up energy in a sneaky way. It’s bad for your bills and it’s bad for the environment. Pro tip: buy a power cord and plug all your things into that so you can unplug everything at once when you’re done and replug it in when you need it.

16. Hang your clothes on the line. This is actually much better for your clothes in the first place to save them from constantly breaking down in the dryer but it’s also eco-friendly. Dryers are one of the most energy intensive things in the house. Buy a drying rack and start hanging your clothes outside. It will take a little longer for them to try (unless it’s summer) but it will save you a LOT and be much better for the environment.

17. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. No brainer. If you’re not in the room there is no reason for the lights to be on. You’re just wasting electricity and increasing your bill.

18. Host a yard sale or donate your old stuff. Cut back on what you own and try to recycle it for someone else to enjoy. I’m a huge lover of thrift stores and they’re actually my favorite place to shop. Like they always say “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

19. Go paperless. Opt for online bills and receipts if there’s the option. It will save paper and make it easier for you to keep track of stuff (and not lose important documents).

20. Dispose of toxic waste and batteries the correct way. If you didn’t know this already, batteries should not be disposed of the same way you’d throw away anything else. If you’re not sure what to do with your batteries look up a local place in your city that you can drop them off at. In my town, we can drop them off at the local college for them to dispose of correctly. You can also contact your local sanitation department about the correct way to dispose of toxic waste because pouring them down the drain or out in the yard is not the right way to do it!

21. Stop using plastic bags! Plastic bag bans have began to take over in major cities and it makes me SO happy. It’s so so so much better for the environment to use reusable cloth bags. They’re much more durable, you can fit so much more in them and you can use them forever. Plastic bags are good for a few minutes on your walk to the car and on your walk inside your home but after those few minutes you have no more use for them. Your convenience for a couple minutes impacts the environment forever.

Think beyond yourself for just a moment and think about the effect of your carbon footprint on the environment, then start making those changes today. Oh and in case you missed it, becoming eco-friendly will also save you some big bucks by making small changes. Your wallet will thank you along with the environment. TC mark