“Earth Day should encourage us to reflect on what we are doing to make our planet a more sustainable and livable place.”~ Scott Peters
Happy Earth Day!
Happy Earth Day friends! Though honestly I am posting this with just an hour to spare…ooops. It has been fifty years of celebrating Mother Nature and This year is a little different, since we are in the midst of a pandemic. While celebrations are muted this year, there is a bright side. With all of us (suppose to be) staying home, the environment has become healthier. From clearer, cleaner waters to city scapes no longer hidden by smog, to animals running (hoping, galloping? Doing whatever animals do?) through parks and towns care free as can be, it is making a difference not just protecting us from getting sick, but also this beautiful planet.
While staying home has made a world of difference, not just in stopping the curve, but also cleaning up our planet, it isn’t feasible to stay home indefinitely. But it IS feasible to take steps, both small and big to be a bit (or a lot) more environmentally friendly, and make sure our planet hangs around. Being environmentally friendly sometimes feels like an all or nothing experiment and it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to be a millionaire to take small steps to be more clean, though it seems like it sometimes. Humans are infallible and it is okay if you occasionally forget your reusable cup when you go to Starbucks. Nor are you a horrible person for buying that coveted bag, or a new pair of shoes. It is about trying your best to protect the planet and doing what you can to make your footprint disappear. Here are some ideas that I do, to do MY part in keeping the planet clean.
Reusable Bags, Mugs, Containers, Water Bottles
One my first forays into being “eco-friendly” was using reusable bags. Being totally honest, I not only did it before it was even popular to do so, (and got my Mom to jump on the bandwagon) but it made life SO much easier lugging groceries in the city then carrying a gazillion single use plastic and paper bags that would end up breaking.
There was one time (and only one time) I had the brilliant idea to grocery shop during a snow storm, and while my food was in paper bags, paper does not mix, and the bags ended up breaking as I was starting down the hill to reach my apartment, needless to say I made sure I ALWAYS had my reusable bags with me. I also don’t buy them. Stores like Lululemon, Athleta, and Urban Outfitters will give them out when you buy something, and Lululemon and Athleta all give you the bigger size bags if you ask which are perfect for groceries and laundry.
Another reusable item I did long before it was “cool,” was a reusable water bottle. It makes sense as a wannabe mermaid, that I drink like a fish, (water guys, WATER!) and using single use plastic water bottles that pollute the ocean and take hundreds of years to disintegrate was more of a pain then it was worth. I am obsessed with my S’Well water bottle and I take it everywhere I go including travel where I can refill it in airports and not worry about paying a ridiculous amount for water.
Another reusable item I love and is kinda an obvious one if you know me, are coffee mugs. I have an extensive coffee mug collection, from travel, to cute mugs, to even a few iced coffee tumblers, I have my pick to brew at home or bring to a coffee shop. I admit sometimes I do forget, especially when I travel, but most local coffee shops also have for here mugs that you can request.
Disclaimer: Because of the pandemic, unfortunately many stores are not allowing shoppers to use reusable bags at this time. And cafes, including Starbucks, are not allowing reusable cups. Hopefully that will change once everything has settled down, but I would double check.
Recycling And Plastic
Recycling might be the easiest and most simple way to curb your ecological footprint from expanding. It can be stressful trying to figure out whether glass and plastic can go together, (it depends on where you live) but like with anything once you learn, it becomes second nature. It is also important to not just recycle your plastic, but reduce it. Plastic is made of chemicals which makes it hard to disintegrate, as well as dangerous to burn. If we can reduce our reliance on this material, earth would be much healthier! Buying products made of natural materials like wood or wool, will cut down on our plastic consumption.
Turn Off Lights
Admittedly, this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Not only does leaving lights on, hike up the electric bill, but it also uses energy that we shouldn’t waste. By turning them off as well as any electronics you aren’t using, you are conserving electricity. I also recommend making the switch (when your old ones burn out) to LED bulbs which are much more environmentally friendly, as well as saving your electric bill. It is a win-win.
Know Where Your Food Comes From
Being vegan is equated to being eco-friendly, while those who are carnivores don’t care. I say Bull Schnozzle. First off, shame on ANYONE for shaming ANYONE for food preferences. While I am not a dietitian (fun fact, I did major for a year in nutrition before I realized I needed to uncouple completely with the food business) I am a firm believer that we are all unique and require different nutrients and what one person eats will probably not work for another. So PLEASE do not let anyone shame you if you eat meat. Likewise don’t let anyone shame you if you don’t. Also I refuse to use the word diet. It isn’t.
Now that the lecture is done, I was vegetarian, (technically pescatarian) for ten years before my body said na uh, girl this is NOT working. I have PCOS and Endometriosis which makes me susceptible to anemia, and unfortunately the veg lifestyle is not for me. That said, knowing where your food comes from is so incredibly important, not just to the environment, but also to yourself. You don’t want to be putting chemicals in your body which is why looking for local and organic produce and making sure they use ethical practices is so important. It will also help cut down on packaging waste.
Thrifting, Donating Clothes, and Sustainable Brands
I admit clothes are a hard one for me. I love shopping and as a fashion blogger, I need to be up on trends and what is in. Thrifting doesn’t always make that easy, though it can make it fun bringing old to new again. I don’t try to be perfect, because we aren’t, but I do try my best to not buy frivolous items I don’t need (even to be trendy) or love, and to shop from companies that I know are doing good in the world, like Dudley Stephens who makes comfy fleece shirts which are made from recycled water bottles, or Sea Bags which recycles old sails and turns them into chic bags. I also try to refrain from companies like Nike where their humanitarian ethics leave a lot to be desired and are further polluting the air with their factories, which are literally sweat shops.
Instead of throwing clothes out, you can either donate them to the local GoodWill or use sites like E-Bay, Poshmark, and Thred-up which make selling items super easy. I am especially a fan of Thred-up (not sponsored) because you order a bag and then just throw everything into it, hassle free! They also donate the clothes that they don’t take which I also love, because nothing is wasted.
Zoos, wildlife preserves, and sanctuaries, are another very controversial subject. One that I have tried to educate myself in recent years. I have been to zoos. I was a nanny in New York and it is basically a requirement to go once a month if not more when watching littles, but it is definitely something that makes me squeamish. While some zoo’s are used as sanctuaries for endangered animals, many exploit the animals for people’s entertainment and I am not down for that guys, which is why research is so important.
The last few years especially, as I have travelled, I have worked hard to educate myself on not just zoos, but also wildlife preserves and Sanctuaries. Yes, those elephant pictures are “Cool” but guys many of those animals are abused so that they are tame enough to pose along side humans and THAT is not cool. Further more it is not healthy for animals to have human contact no matter how cuddly and magnificent they are. Believe me, I would love to swim with dolphins, but it isn’t worth it to put them in danger. I am not going to preach to you, because you can make your own sound judgements, but please just, educate, educate, educate on the place you are visiting. The best way to help animals, especially ones on the endangered species list is to donate to the World Wildlife Fund. And if you want to see animals, look for a sanctuary where you can love on them from afar, hopefully way more then six feet.
Connect with Nature
The best lessons are where you experience something, and fall in love so much that you want to protect it. And that is why, I am a huge believer in getting outside and experiencing the beauty of this planet yourself. It has SO much to offer. I am in awe of it every day. When you experience it, you want to take care of it. I love hiking and going for walks whether I am at the beach or in my hometown surrounded by mountains. And it is something (as long as you are responsible) you can do even now during social distancing. Just remember carry in, and carry out!
There are so many ways to be eco-friendly and create a more sustainable life, whether it is walking or biking to and from work, to turning the water off when you brush your teeth and wash your hands, picking up trash on the side of the road, (responsibly of course) to maybe collecting rain water to wash your car, you have to find what is sustainable for you to do your part in protecting this beautiful planet, which really deserves to be taken care of. Small ripples lead to huge waves and they have the power to not just reshape the earth, but also us into better more compassionate humans.
How are you celebrating Earth Day? What are some steps you are taking to be more eco-friendly and protect the beauty of this earth?