Earth Day is April 22, and it’s the perfect day to get out, get involved and make a difference. There’s much to be done, but Earth Day is also a celebration of our blue planet, and in the words of Groucho Marx “if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.” So if you’re looking for some ideas about what you can do this Earth Day we’ve got you covered, and we’ll even throw in a little levity to boot.
Climate change isn’t just a problem for humans – it also threatens the Earth’s biodiversity. Scientists have estimated that as much as 50% plant and animal species in naturally rich areas such as the Amazon may face extinction due to climate change by the end of the century. Recognizing the need for action, the theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Protect Our Species.” You can help protect biodiversity in your own back yard by cultivating native plants, gardening for bees and other pollinators, and eliminating the use of herbicides and pesticides. Don’t have a back yard? Educate yourself about locally endangered species and consider visiting a local park, wildlife refuge or nature center to learn more about the habitat in your area. Who knows, if you’re lucky maybe you’ll see a double rainbow!
Eat Less Meat
Most people probably already know that one of the most effective ways to cut their carbon footprint is by eating less meat. This is doubly true if you hold the beef, which accounts for some 65% of all animal agriculture greenhouse gas emissions. But going veg may not just be good for the planet – it may also be good for your health. Studies have found that people who ate a healthy plant-based diet were at a lower risk of heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes. And buying local produce and foods can serve to reduce your carbon footprint even more. Just try not to go too far down the farm-to-table rabbit hole.
Take Alternative Transportation
According to the EPA, the transportation sector accounts for 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Today, rush hour drivers spend an average of 42 hours stuck in traffic each year, and it isn’t making them happy. Researchers have found that commuters who walk, take a train or cycle are happier than those who drive. If you have to drive, investigate carpool or rideshare options at your workplace or in your locality. Looking for even more adventurous good times? You might want to give an e-bike or an e-scooter a try. But don’t be surprised if it causes you to lose your grumpy cat face.
The convenience of disposable packaging and far-flung landfills can make it easy to ignore the staggering amount of trash our throw-away society produces. But from the problems with recycling to toxic e-waste to plastic filled oceans waste is a serious problem. What can you do? Avoid single-use packaging, carry reusable containers, utensils and bags, and try to consume less in general (do you really need that new hoverboard?). Composting not only diverts organic waste from landfills but can be used to enrich soils. And check it out: why not go green (and save some green) by making some of your own household products? You have nothing to lose but the scent of your old deodorant. For your health!
Volunteer and Donate
There are thousands of events and volunteer opportunities taking place across the globe this Earth Day. Earth Day Network is helping organize volunteer cleanups in communities across the U.S. Looking for something different? VolunteerMatch connects volunteers with non-profit opportunities across many areas of need. The EPA recommends contacting educational coordinators at its regional offices to learn about programs near you. Donating to nonprofit organizations is always an effective way to help make a difference. This list of top-rated nonprofits protecting the environment is a good place to start. Whether you choose to volunteer or donate, make sure it’s to a worthy cause.
Do you have an idea how people can make a difference this Earth Day or any day of the year? Share it in the comments section below. Happy Earth Day!