Earth Day 2016: 7 Actions to Reduce Your Environmental Impact
April 22 is Earth Day, and we love the earth. It's our one and only real home. Problem is, we're destroying it. Our careless consumption has reached epic proportions and we have to act now if we want to try to claw back some of the damage that's being done as we speak.
Though it may seem like a global issue that is out of our hands, it's the small things that will make leaps and bounds to ensure that the earth is a safer place to live as we get older, and for our children who are going to inherit our mistakes and our choices.
In honour of Earth Day 2016, here are some small things you can do, starting today, that will make a real difference. Alone we may be one, but together we are many.
1/ Slurp from Reusable Straws
Plastic we know is bad for the earth. It has a short lifespan and ends up in our landfills, the ocean and rivers, and causes major issues because it doesn’t break down. It’s also bad for our health as it contains toxins and BPA, and it's a major part of the petroleum industry. And it’s used for everything - even the things we don’t think of very much, like straws. This is why reusable straws are great. They come with their own little cleaners, and can last for years. Stainless steel ones are especially good for cold drinks, as they keep the beverage chilled all the way up!
What You Can Do: Forgo the straw when you’re dining out - ask the waitress to hold the straw. At home, use straws that are made to last from stainless steel.
2/ Bring Your Own Bottled Water
This one is a given. We know, we know, you’ve heard it before. But there are still far too many plastic water bottles making their way into our oceans and rivers, not to mention our sidewalks and public spaces. Do the earth a favour and find yourself a beautiful glass water bottle that you’ll cherish for ages. Our BKR collection is above and beyond in the water canteen department – a tool for hydration and also an accessory to match your personal style.
What You Can Do: Find a safe alternative and make it a habit to have it on you at all times. A glass bottle with a silicone sleeve can last for years, doesn’t taint your water with harmful chemicals, and supports an eco lifestyle.
3/ Quit Running the Water
We’ve all heard this one since we were wee little things brushing our teeth with the tap running at full speed. It can seem a hard habit to break, turning it off while we brush, and it almost feels harmless just letting it run while we rinse the dishes. But it all adds up, and it’s a real issue. The water crisis is the number one global risk according to the World Economic Forum. This is some serious stuff.
What You Can Do: Turn off the tap. It’s that simple. While you’re brushing your teeth or rinsing dishes, keep the stream to the times when you’re actually using it.
4/ Compost Organic Materials
If you haven’t seen Leyla Acaroglu’s Ted Talk "Paper Beats Plastic?”, we suggest you watch it right now. Organic materials like food waste and paper are still making their way into landfills, and that’s a problem, because when they are in there with all the other inorganic junk, they don’t just break down and disappear, they become part of the problem. Don’t just toss your food waste into the garbage, separate it into organic waste. Even better, buy what you need and use it, making the most of your budget and your household refuse.
What You Can Do: Keep organic waste separate from garbage and recycling. If your city doesn’t collect natural waste, try to find a co-op or farm that’s looking for compost materials and deposit it there. If you’re afraid of having a stinky compost bin, simply store it in the freezer, then toss it in the big compost bin when it's full. No smell, no fuss.
5/ Eat Your Food Waste
Food waste is a huge problem. It’s estimated that between 40-50% of fresh food is wasted. That includes food that has consumed energy from seed to shipping to sitting in your fridge. Ugly produce; fruits and veg that don’t look perfect (think a co-joined carrot or oddly shaped peach), is often left to rot and doesn’t even make it to store shelves. Even when we buy our perfect-looking healthy food, tons and tons of it goes to dumpsters every year because we bought too much and forgot about what was sitting in the back of the fridge.
Famous chefs like Dan Barber are out to solve this problem. His pop up WastED in NYC last year created an entire menu based on fresh refuse like pulp from a juicery or “cucumber butts” from a local pickle factory.
What You Can Do: Look at what you’re throwing away and get creative. Broccoli stems are delicious when they’ve been peeled, the fresh ends of veg can be used to make stock, even citrus peels can be dried and ground and used to sprinkle atop salads. There are lots of resources online to find ways to reduce your household food waste. (Also follow @uglyproduceisbeautiful on Instagram to get over the beauty standards set for produce.)
6/ Shop With Reusable Bags
By now, we hope that pretty much everyone has switched out plastic shopping bags for reusable ones, but what about produce bags? Are you still throwing half a dozen oranges or heads of lettuce and bunches of kale into clear plastic bags at the grocery store? Quit it. Expand your reusable bag wardrobe and start finding solutions to routine plastic consumption.
What You Can Do: Stock up on these. They are made in Canada, 100% cotton, USDA Certified organic, and will keep your fruit and veg in better shape than their plastic counterparts.
Computers, televisions, and cell phone chargers drain power, even when they are not being used. Unplug kitchen appliances like toasters, juicers, blenders and coffee makers when you’re finished using them.
What You Can Do: Take those chargers out of the wall. Get uncomfortable when you spot a charger dangling out of a socket, or when you see a plugged in toaster not in use. Then, unplug it! You’re conserving energy and saving money.
There are plenty more simple habits to get into to help Mother Earth recover from the abuse dished out on her every second. Do what you can. Tell your friends, share eco lifestyle tips, and shop smart. If we all work together, someday Earth Day will be less about a knee-jerk reaction to fixing damage, and more about looking back on how far we've come to make the world a better place.