Earth Day arrives Thursday (April 22) and it’s a great time to do all of the good things for the environment that you can. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, even small steps can make a big difference in doing your part. If you’re ready to get started, here are 10 things you can do to help save the Earth.
- Protect our Oceans. Plastic constitutes approximately 90% of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile. 267 species around the world are harmed by plastic. 44% of seabird, 43% of ocean mammals, and 86% of sea turtles ingest or become tangled in plastic. Keep our beaches clean by participating in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health. Be moved to take action after viewing these compelling photos of the effects of plastic on wildlife. For 10 more great ways you can help save our oceans, to learn about plastic pollution, global warming, over-fishing, and much more on the threats to our seas, visit the Social Action campaign site for Disneynature’s Oceans, SaveMyOceans.com.
- Recycle. For each ton of paper that is recycled, 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 2 barrels of oil, and 4100 kilowatt hours of energy (enough to power a home for five months) are saved. Toggle through ‘A to Z’ recycling guide to learn how many common items are indeed recyclable.
- Live Green. Clean the air with indoor plants. Plants give off oxygen and they make your home look and feel better. Walk or ride a bike instead of drive. Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year. Use glass instead of plastic. Imagine how beneficial it would be if we could go back to reusing glass bottles instead of junking up the landfills with plastic ones? ClimateCrisis.net offers a number of other ways you can live a greener life at home and throughout your day.
- Build a Greener Home. Switch to solar energy. In one day, the sun provides more energy than our population could use in 27 years. The Environmental Working Group has several Alternative sources of electricity that are available on their site. Use compact, fluorescent light bulbs. They last 10 times longer and use only a 4th of the energy compared to incandescent light bulbs. Unplug unused appliances. TVs and VCRs that are turned “off,” but are still plugged in, cost us nearly $1 billion a year in electricity. Eartheasy.com has a great list of non-toxic furniture cleaners ranging from home made items that will save you money to the best commercial non-toxic products.
- Eat Healthier. Try becoming a vegetarian once a week. It requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef and for each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed. Visit Food, Inc.’s office website to learn more about the issues, to find 10 Simple Things You Can Do To Change Our Food System, and to get resources like the site’s reading list for the best books on our food system, that includes the film’s companion book, Food, Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making us Sicker, Fatter and Poorer – and What You Can Do About It. Seafood can be great for you if you’re trying to cut back on the amount of red meat you ingest. The Super Green List on the Monterey Bay Aquarium site will help you separate the good seafood from the ones you should avoid. Take a close look at your kids’ school lunch routine. Whether your kids eat “hot lunch” provided by their school or you pack it at home, is it as healthy as it should be? Have you joined your child for hot lunch yet this year – that’s the one way to really get to know what’s for lunch. Chef Ann Cooper has loads of ideas – both for what to put in that lunchbox every day, and how we can improve our country’s school lunch program at the policy level.
- Donate. The people of Japan have been through a horrific ordeal and you can help the burden, and improve your music collection at the same time by donating to the Songs for Japan fund. Ten bucks buys you 38 great singles from hot artists ranging from The Red Hot Chili Peppers to Elton John
- Don’t Throw Away Old Electronics. The average cell phone lasts around 18 months, which means 130 million phones will be retired each year. If they go into landfills, the phones and their batteries introduce toxic substances into our environment. Electronic circuit boards, batteries and color cathode ray tubes (CRTs) from televisions can contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium. If improperly handled or disposed, these toxins can be released into the environment through landfills or incinerator ash. Every state has recycling for your old TVs, computers, and printers. Use Earth911 recycling database to find a facility near you.
- Use Safer Cosmetics
We all use a few cosmetics every day. But are they safe? Here are a few ideas to educated yourself and make your cleaning and preening routine a bit greener. Get acquainted with EWG’S Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. If you’ve ever wondered whether there are toxic ingredients you should avoid in those l-o-n-g ingredient lists on all those bottles in your shower and bathroom cabinet (you know you have!), Skin Deep’s for you. Simply type in your product and voila, a score! And an explanation. And a list of safer alternatives to start using instead.
- Plant. Take a trip to the hardware store or local nursery and bring home a new plant or tree. Putting a new tree in your yard will also help shade and keep cooling costs in your home down. If you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty, you can always plant one digitally. Plant A Billion Trees is a website devoted to replanting the rain forests. Spend $1 and you will plant a tree. Can’t get much easier than that. For tips, blogs, forums and gardening support, the National Gardening Association’s site has got you covered.
- Stop Destroying the Ozone. The UN Environment Program predicts that for every 1 percent the ozone layer is depleted, there will be a 3 percent rise in skin cancer, and today’s rate of malignant skin cancer is already 10 times that of the 1950s. Your commitment to stop using aerosol cans will help in the fight to protect our planet’s natural barrier against harmful UV rays.
Share what you know. Take what you’ve learned, and pass the knowledge on to others. If every person you know could take one small step toward being greener, the collective effort could be earth-changing.