Earth Day is coming up on April 22. I like to call it Christmas for Mother Earth because it’s a day that we should all do something kind for our home, this amazing planet, which has provided us with absolutely everything.
I am often overwhelmed when I hear reports about climate change, pollution, and animal extinction. They seem like problems that are too big to be solved, and yet our survival depends on it. Earth depends on it. I might not be able to ignite a global movement that saves the planet, but there are many small things I try to do everyday to play my part. In honor of Earth Day, here are 5 ways I’m trying to be a little more Earth-friendly every day.
As of January 1, 2015, Seattle banned throwing food scraps in the trash. Composting is the law of the land. At my house, we have a separate garbage collection bin for food/yard waste, and a third garbage can in our home specifically for food waste (the other two are for garbage and recyclables). After being on the program for three and a half months now, I’m amazed at how long it takes to fill up our garbage can. We can often go two weeks without taking the trash out. The recycling and compost bins fill up much faster! It feels great knowing that we’re sending less material to the landfill and more material to be recycled or turned into compost. To make the composting process as easy and clean as possible, we started buying compostable garbage bags. There are several brands of compostable bags available, we happen to use BioBag. You can also use a plain old paper bag from the grocery store, no judgment. To prevent spills and leaks, we use both, putting the BioBag inside the paper bag in our compost can. BioBag also makes compostable resealable bags which are great for snacks. It’s an Earth-friendly alternative to plastic bags which have to be tossed in the trash. I’ve also started buying compostable cups, utensils and plates for all of our one-use needs… they’re becoming more common on the shelves in grocery stores.
For those of you who don’t have a city-run composting program, you can find a composter near your home, or start your own backyard compost operation. Here are some great tips for getting started.
2. Reusable Starbucks Cups Starbucks Grande Hazelnut Cappuccino = Good. Tossing away cup after cup after cup after cup (yes, I drink a lot of them!) = Shameful. Starbucks and other coffee shops typically have a recycle bin, but if I’m on the go and there’s not a proper receptacle nearby, my plastic and cardboard cups usually end up in the trash. I wised up last year and bought 2 reusable Starbucks cups, one for my cold drinks and one for my warm drinks. Problem solved! And you get a discount on your drink in the stores! I love my cups so much, I use them at work for drinking water or hot tea instead of grabbing a disposable cup every time I’m thirsty
3. Recycle Your Old Clothes
One of my favorite recycling programs is H&M’s Long Live Fashion campaign. I wrote a blog post about it last year. H&M’s clothing recycling program is dedicated to the three R’s: Rewear, Reuse, Recycle. Clothing that can be worn again is sold second hand, old clothes or textiles are turned into other products like cleaning cloths, and everything else is turned into textile fibers.
4. Eco-Friendly Household Products
I’m trying to cut back on using chemicals around the house where I can. This one has been a slow change, and somewhat challenging to be honest. I’m still looking for more household products that are earth-friendly AND effective. Being eco-chic is good and all, but lets face it, the product also has to do its job and not cost a fortune. Here are some of my favorites so far.
Lavender Hydrosol – This is truly my secret weapon. I use this as a surface and window cleaner in the kitchen and bathroom. Seriously, it works just as well as regular window cleaner – no streaks – but instead of a chemical smell, you’re left with a lavender scent. It’s just an excellent cleaner. Here are some other hydrosol uses.
Natural Laundry Soap – I haven’t tried this yet, but a friend swears by this laundry soap from Handmade La Conner, a local store in La Conner, Washington. They offer shipping if you don’t live nearby.
Fabric Shopping Bags – Here in Seattle, plastic shopping bags are a thing of the past. There are three options for hauling groceries: paper bags, reusable hands, or your own two hands. I use the fabric reusable bags for my grocery shopping and my giant tote purse to store clothes when I hit the mall. My husband goes for paper bags and they end up in our recycling or compost bins.
Planet Products – I haven’t tried this line of products yet, but they are going on my shopping list when my detergents start to run out. Planet cleaning products are billed as Certified 100% Biodegradable and Phosphate Free.
5. Donate to Charity
One of the easiest ways to hug this big, blue, beautiful planet is to support the organizations that are promoting change and making a difference on a large scale.
The Wildlife Conservation Network
The Sierra Club
The Conservation Fund
and my personal favorite…