Celebrate Earth Day in a sustainable way
Earth Day is here to remind us of all the amazing things our planet has to offer us, and how we can be kinder to it. From reducing the waste that we produce, to choosing healthier and greener activities, to being mindful about our consumerism, there are a lot of ways to be eco-conscious this Earth month. And who knows, you might even learn something that you can implement in your daily life…
Here are 5 tips on how you can celebrate Earth Day in a sustainable way:
1. Bring your own…
With Spring blossoming this April, all we think about is when are we going to take that picnic basket outside. If you are serious about your picnic game, bringing your own containers, refillable cups and a reusable water bottle can go a long way!
Often, we go outside empty handed and then feel the need to buy a plastic bottle of water, a plastic bag or even takeout food containers. Even though purchasing these once or twice does not seem like it would do much harm, it adds up to the amount of single use plastic that is being produced and thrown out.
If you plan on going out for a meal or a drink, remembering to take your own ‘zero waste’ kit is the way to go. There are plenty of options, from your regular ‘Tupperware’, to a reusable water bottle, and even metal or bamboo cutlery and straws! You can even go as far as bringing your own cloth napkin. This way, you are not only saving resources by reusing the same items time and time again, but also avoiding creating more waste that ends up in a landfill or the ocean.
2. …and take it with you!
When visiting parks, beaches or anywhere outdoors, I always have a motto: be sure to leave it cleaner than you have found it. Nowadays, it is becoming normal to find all kinds of trash in streets, parks and beaches. As we walk in the park, as much as it feels like it is not our responsibility to pick up the trash that was already there, I believe that it is our collective responsibility to keep our cities and green areas clean.
So, along the lines of my first tip, whenever you go out for a walk, a hike or a picnic, not only try to use and purchase as little disposables as possible, but also take the waste you created with you and chuck it in the appropriate bin. And, if you really want to go the extra mile, pick up some trash that was already there, flying around, and ensure you wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after litter picking.
Bonus tip: I always try to remember to bring an extra bag to fill up with litter!
3. Shop local and in season
Have you ever wondered where your food comes from? While most of us do not question it much, most of our food has gone through a long journey before arriving on the supermarket shelves. This journey often has a larger footprint than we imagine.
Questions like – where was it produced? Were there consequences for the local area? Who produced it? Were they treated fairly? How long has the food travelled for? – are important to consider when deciding where and what food to buy.
How to achieve this? It is not that complicated!
The closer to our home our food is produced, the smaller transport footprint it will have. Always check the country of origin on display for all the food you buy. Next time you go shopping, try to choose food from where you live. You can also try local farmers markets where they usually sell from closer locations. You never know if you have an urban farm close to you!
The same goes for food that is in season, such as certain types of fruits and vegetables: the more in season our food is, the more sustainable is to produce it. This is simply because it was grown in its natural conditions, which means using less energy and chemicals than when it is produced out of season. This way, you are not only helping the planet but also supporting your local farmers! There is a lot of information available online where you can find out which fruits and vegetables are in season. Print it and pin it to your fridge!
4. Gifting less is more
With restrictions lifting up, we are now able to visit family and friends, and finally give them that belated birthday present. The mindset of a consumerist society is to go and buy anything that screams trendy. And even though it may seem like there is nothing wrong with trendy stuff, the “fast” retail industry is one of the most pollutant and unethical sectors in the world.
Instead of buying something that will not bring any value to your loved ones, why not offer something intentional, more sustainable and with more love and thought put into it? Some examples can be baking your special cookies, making a personalised postcard, bringing their favourite wine, or even getting a unique second-hand piece. These will be so much more cherished since the giftee will really feel the effort you have put into their special day.
And, if you really don’t find the time for crafting a gift (I know, crafting 50 gifts for the family might be too much!), why not buy from sustainable and local shops some zero waste products? From house cleaning products, to shampoo bars or even a reusable cup for that picnic in the park – there are plenty of options out there to help your friends and family become more Earth-friendly!
5. Move for the planet
I promise this is the last time I mention the weather: but we do have to celebrate the blue skies we have been having this April! This Earth Day, why not take a longer route on your jog or stroll, walk to the pub or your parents’ place?
Road transport accounts for 22% of the UK’s emissions of CO2, which is a major contributor to climate change. By walking, cycling or taking public transport we are not only doing our health and wallets a favour, but also protecting our Earth. While not having a car is not doable for everyone, most people that live in cities can easily find other options. Shared mobility in electric cars or motorcycles, those fast scooters you always wanted to try or those city bikes are great and cheap options to go around in the city and even have fun at the same time!
So, remember: this Earth Day, or if you dare, this Earth month, challenge yourself to bring your own container to the park, leave places you visited exactly – or in better shape – as you found them, buy products from your own country and city, craft your own gift for your friends, and walk that extra mile! You will see these tips are actually very easy to follow and you will not be disappointed. Let’s all be friends of the Earth!
Written by: Patricia Calixto