Earth Day: Small things you can do to help the planet
Happy Earth Day! The idea behind Earth Day is to demonstrate your support for environmental protection. The first Earth Day took place in 1970 and now it’s celebrated in more than 193 countries across the globe -- and why (on Earth) wouldn’t it be? Here are a few small things that you can do this Earth Day to help our planet out:
Reduce single-use plastic
Single-use plastic is exactly that: plastic you only use once, but which hangs around in the environment for many moons afterward. This includes plastic water bottles, bags and straws. According to World Economic Forum, humans produce 78 millions tons of plastic packaging every year, 32 percent of which is left to flow into our oceans, pouring the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
Use a reusable water bottle
When was the last time you bought a drink in a plastic bottle, then threw it away the same day? According to AIGI, Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, averaging about 13 bottles per month. Even aside from the environmental impact, this is an expensive way to stay hydrated.
Thankfully, reusable water bottles are easy to pick up and very much in style right now. Brands like S’well have managed to make them into fashion statements, with colorful designs and temperature-regulating materials, so you can use your bottle for hot coffee and tea as well as for cold drinks. S’well even has a limited edition Earth Day bottle on sale here.
BYO shopping bag
You can reduce your plastic (and therefore landfill) usage by using reusable shopping bags. Waste Management found that around 4 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually and only 1 percent of these are recycled. Although New York state is going to start charging us for plastic bags soon, there’s no reason why you can’t start right now. You can get small and even fashionable fold-away bags like these on Amazon or at local grocery stores like Trader Joe’s.
The war on straws has begun! Half a billion straws are used in the world every day, which are probably the easiest things to cut out of your lifestyle. The anti-staw movement is fast gaining traction (read more at Plastic Pollution Coalition) and it’s becoming a statement to reject a straw at a bar. You can also bring your own reusable straw if you can’t go without.
According to Recycle Across America, U.S. recycling levels are currently 21.4 percent, mostly due to confusion about how to recycle, but if this were to reach 75 percent, it would be the environmental equivalent of removing 55 million cars from our roads each year. At Outpost, we want to move toward that target. We provide clearly labeled bins for recycling and landfill, so be sure to keep using these. And remember: Recycling isn’t just good for the planet -- it’s New York law.
Reduce your meat consumption
Going vegan is one of the most beneficial things you can do for the environment (all those cows produce a lot of methane -- learn about this and other factors here) and according to Mercy For Animals, a vegan diet impacts the environment up to 84 percent less than that of a meat eater.
Although it might be hard to go the whole way, you can still make an impact by reducing your meat and dairy consumption however you can. Maybe have one meatless day a week, or introduce one plant-based substitute into your diet. Every little bit helps, after all.