Earth Day Every Day - The Top Five Things You Can Do to Make a Difference

Earth Day is just around the corner. Any plans to step up your game for the planet?

By: Sara Tressler '19  Thursday, April 18, 2019 03:40 PM

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“We’re confronted every day by serious environmental, economic and geopolitical challenges, many of which can seem insurmountable,” says Rich Niesenbaum, biology professor at Muhlenberg College and author of the new book Sustainable Solutions: Problem Solving for Current and Future Generations. “But it’s important to recognize that the problems we face are solvable and that our individual actions can help make our planet a better place for all people, for us now and for future generations as well.” Here are five simple but effective actions he recommends that can make a real difference:

Earth Day - Idle

 

1. Quit Your Idling

The average American driver spends more than 16 minutes a day just idling because of things like traffic slowdowns or waiting for passengers. If all passenger vehicles cut their idling by even five minutes, climate-changing CO₂ emissions would be reduced by 6.5 tons per day.

  • Make sure to GPS your route before leaving to avoid traffic jams
  • Turn off your car if you'll be stopped for more than 10 (yes, 10) seconds.
  • Instead of sitting in line at a drive-through, park and head into the store. You might get waited on faster too!

Earth Day - Faucet

 

2. Reduce the Flow

Did you know a leaky faucet can waste nearly 3,000 gallons of water per year? Long showers do too—that’s about the same amount of water a typical person in the U.S. uses in 180 showers. The largest culprit of freshwater use is agriculture and meat production which uses 70% of water globally and 80% nationally. However, industrial scale meat production uses ten times more water than does producing the same amount of calories from most vegetables.

  • Fix that pesky leaky faucet or toilet and reduce the length of your showers to drastically decrease your water use (and save some money too.)
  • Skip meat just one day a week to reduce your water use by 25,000 gallons per year. Load up on those fruits and veggies instead. The earth will thank you (and so will your body.)

Earth Day - Plastic

 

3. Ditch the Single-Use Stuff

Yep, recycling is great but it’s getting harder to do. Even better? Try to use lots less stuff, especially single-use plastics that can pollute the earth and choke the oceans forever (literally.)

  • Swap out single-use plastic bags with Etee wraps, Earth Junky produce bags and canvas shopping bags.
  • Use glass or stainless steel water bottles like Origin or Hydro Flask instead of single-use plastic bottles. They’re easily cleaned and dioxin- and BPA-free, something that can’t be said for plastic bottles.

Earth Day - Veggies

 

4. Know Your Food

 What you eat impacts your health, right? But did you know it also impacts our planet, the workers who produce our food and the communities in which our food is produced? You can make a real difference by choosing and consuming sustainable foods.

  • Buy foods sporting these labels: Organic, naturally grown, locally produced, grass fed, heirloom, antibiotic free and fair trade.
  • Eat real food and less meat. Avoid processed foods. Whenever you can, purchase actual ingredients and cook them.
  • Purchase your food directly from those who grow it—head to a local farmers market or sign up for a CSA share. Your farmers can tell you how the produce was grown and when it was harvested. Or start a small garden and grow your own.

Earth Day - App

 

5. There’s an App for That:

Your smartphone can be a powerful tool to help you take strong action against climate change. Use websites and apps to find ways to make small adjustments that help you live much more sustainably. You can use them to calculate your carbon footprint, reduce your water usage and minimize food waste. Or check out iRecycle, an app that helps you find convenient recycling opportunities at home and on the go.