7 Earth-Friendly Habits You Can Start Today
I guess you could say I have an inherent instinct to look after the planet. Of all the things I learned from growing up on a farm, honoring Mama Nature was the biggest. Promoting the health of the earth and the richness of the soil was a direct correlation to the quality of the food we grew.
But today, there's no question the conveniences of modern living have pulled us away from the sustainability practices our great-grandparents lived by. The problems we now face are vast and complex, but they come down to this: we are 6.8 billion living together on one planet.
Earth Day is one of my favorite times to cultivate awareness for the planet, and this year it kicks off on April 22. If you want to do your part, I'm going to help you make going green simple. Really simple.
For seven days, I invite you to take on one easy earth-friendly choice per day to reduce your impact on the planet.
Yes, it will take more than a few small personal changes to make our planet healthy. But if you can make one change each day this coming week, it’s a start. If you can stick with that change beyond one day, even better!
Check out the daily challenges below and give 'em a go! Share your experience with us by tagging #EarthWeekChallenge.
Day 1: Go meatless
Reduce your carbon footprint by cutting down or eliminating your meat consumption for a day. If you are aware of the benefits of cutting out meat once a week in favor of three plant-based meals on Monday, you know that it doesn’t just improve your health – it does the environment a lot of favors as well.
Raising livestock for our current level of human consumption requires an extraordinary amount of resources and takes a devastating toll on our planet. Fact: One ¼ lb. of beef requires 425 gallons of water to produce. The term “Less Meat = Less Heat” refers to decreasing large scale meat production, which in turn, would significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
Meatless Monday is the perfect way to eat more plants and try out delicious recipes that put fruits, vegetables, and plant-based protein in the spotlight.
Day 2: Compost your scraps
Dirt, soil, call it what you want—it's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. Food scraps have the correct ratio of nutrients that plants need to grow. By composting, we put nutrients back into the soil instead of wasting them. Composting benefits the air, water, and soil. Best of all, it closes the Farm-to-Table-to-Farm nutrient loop.
If you live in Southern Maine, you can try out Garbage to Garden. It's my favorite curbside compost service that offers urban dwellers, schools and commercial businesses a convenient way to recycle food scraps, including meat, dairy and bones, to be used to renew our local soil.
Day 3: Say no to plastics
Have you seen the huge mass of plastic waste floating in the ocean? There are so many ways we can cut down on our plastic waste. Skip the straw. Refill your reusable water bottles. Bring your own lunch in reusable containers or bring the containers to your favorite take-out restaurant and pass on the plastic utensils, excess paper napkins and bags.
Day 4: Eat local
Choosing to eat locally supports your community, supports your health, and supports the intention of conserving global resources. Even if you walk or bike to the store, if you come home with bananas from Ecuador, grapes from Chile, tomatoes from Holland, cheese from France, and artichokes from California, you have guzzled some serious gas. Transporting 5 calories worth of strawberries from California to New York costs 425 calories of fossil fuel. To broaden this perspective, it takes the earth 18 months to replenish the amount of resources we use each year, and therefore, we’d need 1.5 earths to be sustainable at our current rate of consumption.
Day 5: Waste less food
Did you know 40% of food is wasted in the U.S.? 400 pounds of food is wasted per person, per year. The average American family wastes $2,200 in food per year. Reducing food waste by just 15% could feed more than 25 million people per year.
One of my personal approaches to healthy living is to eat less from a box and more from the Earth. But that means time is of the essence in order to use produce before it goes bad - a skill that takes some honing if you tend to fill your kitchen with non-perishables.
Day 6: Plant air purifiers
Instead of using chemical-laden aerosols and fragrances, opt for greening your home with greenery! They not only convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, they also filter out organic toxins or volatile organic compounds(VOCs). Plants filter out benzene, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, methylene chloride, xylene, touline and many others. These compounds pose health risks and are carcinogenic as well. Cellular health, immunity, nervous and respiratory can be affected when overexposed to these chemicals.
Popular indoor plants that purify the air exceptionally well (and even reduce some chemicals to up to 85% in 24 hours!) include: Japanese royal ferns, spider plants, Boston ferns, purple waffle plants, English ivy, areca palms, golden pothos, aloe vera, snake plants, clairy plant, Chinese evergreen, eucalyptus, chrysanthemum, African violets and peace lilies.
Day 7: Switch to biodegradable household cleaners
The problems with chemicals are many. They can be harmful when manufactured, harmful when used, and harmful as they make their way down your drain and into the environment. Green cleaning generally means using cleaning solutions and products that consider human health and environmental impacts first. This doesn’t mean that cleaning effectiveness is not considered — it is.
Some people swear by the three masters of green cleaning: baking soda, vinegar, and lemons. While these do work, most of us are going to need to use products that have a bit more muscle behind them for those tougher jobs. Multi-use products that can be diluted and used in many applications offer some of the best environmental benefits because they last a long time and reduce packaging (ie: you refill and reuse spray bottles). There are green cleaning products for every cleaning need: from laundry, to dishwashing, to tile, to tub.
For more information on green cleaning alternatives, click here to learn about my favorite line called Get Clean®.
Ready to go green? Your simplest acts can make all the difference.
If you make any of these shifts, tag #EarthWeekChallenge to share your experience with me!