What did you do for Earth Day this year? You may have either planned your day to be filled with community garbage clean-up and loads of recycling, or you had forgotten this was actually a date that people celebrated. There is a third possibility, though, and that is someone who wants to do more things to positively impact the environment, but you’re not sure where to start.
Here’s the great news, though – you can start with small steps, gradually building up to activities that have a larger influence on our environment and the world around us over time. We all know that choosing to recycle that cereal box isn’t going to be what lowers the median world temperature, but every tiny decision we make that’s more environmentally-friendly adds up to make a big difference.
Here are various ways you can keep the message of Earth Day going throughout the entire year:
- Instead of throwing away older clothing you no longer wish to wear, send it to a charity shop. Most towns and cities have at least one such shop, where people can buy discounted used clothing and household items, and the profits go to a charity.
- If you’re going out for coffee and planning to stay at the cafe to drink it, ask for a mug instead of a takeaway cardboard cup.
- Find out how energy efficient your home currently is by having a HERS Home Energy Rating completed by a energy rater.
- Work with your community, or your child’s school, to make local trash clean-up events happen more than just once a year. Aim for one time for each season, so that more people have an opportunity to participate. Create a group of local residents on your favorite social media website.
- Make sure all of your home appliances are ENERGY STAR® rated, so that your home isn’t using more energy than it needs to for basic tasks like dishwashing and refrigeration.
- Plant wildflower seeds in your yard, to encourage pollinators like bees, and provide a food source for them.
- Minimize food waste by creating meal plans and following them. Meal plans discourage food waste because you tend to only buy what’s needed for the meals you’re cooking, rather than for potential meals that you never end up making.
- Consider replacing your existing insulation with spray foam insulation like Icynene, which can help to reduce air loss in your home which, in turn, can lead to lower monthly heating and cooling bills.
- Avoid shopping at cheap, “fast fashion” retail clothing stores. These stores often use questionable manufacturing processes and encourage more consumption, which is not what the world currently needs more of.
- Make use of fabric bags, rather than continually taking plastic ones (or buying them for 5¢) at your local grocery store.
- Eat locally, whenever possible. Have you paid attention to where those apples you buy in the middle of winter are from? Sometimes, they’re from as far away as New Zealand. Fruit is great, but how much fuel was used in getting that fruit to us?
- Create a compost pile or bin in your backyard. You would be amazed just how effective compost from your own home is, when you’re starting a garden. Speaking of which.
- Start a garden in your backyard. Or make your front yard into a garden, so you never have to mow your lawn again.
- Make sure all of your light bulbs have been replaced by more energy efficient LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs. You would be surprised at how much more energy incandescent and halogen lights consume.
- Ensure batteries, medications, and electronics are disposed of safely and correctly, at facilities that can recycle parts and prevent harmful ingredients from leaching into water and soil.
- Reduce your reliance on plastic. That means buying a few glass or stainless steel straws, instead of continually letting your kids have plastic ones. Or choosing not to buy bottled water anymore. Or sending your kids to school with reusable containers filled with their lunches, instead of pre-made lunch containers that can be thrown away.
Looking at this list, if may seem somewhat overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be, though. Being an environmental steward can start with just one step in the right direction. The important part is actually not getting overwhelmed and then doing nothing at all. Together, we can work toward a future that doesn’t create as much waste, that uses more of what’s already out there, and chooses products that stand the test of time such as spray foam insulation from Icynene, instead of needing to be replaced regularly.
Talk to a licensed Icynene spray foam insulation contractor in your area, to find out more about your home’s current energy efficiency, and how you can improve it.