April 22nd 2021. The 51st anniversary of Earth Day. Designed to spread awareness of the global climate crisis - and the death threat we have placed on our planet - the first Earth Day was held in 1970. Now, a whole schedule of events are coordinated across the globe, encompassing 1 billion people in over 193 countries. Why? Because our planet is dying, and what we're doing is not enough.
The theme for this year's Earth Day is 'Restore Earth', so we got to thinking of a few simple ways that you can help restore the earth this year.
7. Refill and Reuse, Don’t Just Recycle
In our society, it feels like just about everything is covered with plastic packaging. So, when we shop, we often end up with a shopping cart full of plastic without meaning to. A good way to avoid this is to get your hands on some individual containers - they could be glass, metal, wooden, bamboo, whatever you've got - and use these to refill your food at a whole food store, instead of buying it at the supermarket.
For example, foods like pasta, rice, grains, and nuts are all things that are sold in an abundance of plastic, but are also all things that can be refilled really easy - and sometimes at a cheaper price too.
You can find your nearest refill store here, or simply by searching 'nearest refill store in my area'.
What's more, with countless campaigns in school motivating us to recycle our trash, it's easy forget that a lot of our trash can actually be reused. Hear me out: if a pair of socks can be made into a mask, why can't a glass jar be made into storage, or an egg carton be made into a plant pot? Recycling in this way is much more beneficial for the planet, is also most cost efficient.
6. Make Everything From Scratch
Okay, maybe not everything, but cooking meals from scratch, growing your own veg, and making your own clothes or home furnishings are such wonderful habits to get into.
By cooking meals with fresh ingredients (where possible), you are immediately cutting out a massive amount of plastic packaging. Whether it comes from stock pots, pasta packets, or protein stored in Saran Wrap, supermarket food is ridden with the disgusting stuff. So, instead of grabbing a ready meal or TV dinner, why not try your hand at home cooking instead. Chances are, it'll be a tastier too, and it's almost always cheaper.
5. Educated Recycling
Referring back to those God-awful recycling campaigns from our school years: they weren't just badly made, but they also weren't very clear. Yes we need to recycle, but we were never taught how to do it properly. Yes, I hear you: 'is there even a wrong way to recycle?'. Unfortunately, yes.
It's always worth checking your local garbage disposal rules, as it often varies from town to town and city to city. But a good things to remember are:
Wash everything out before you put it in recycling
Biodegradable means that the rubbish will break down by itself, but this could take from 6 weeks to 1000 years. Compostable means that the packaging will also break down by itself into non-toxic elements like water, but might needed added pressure (like water or heat) to do the job.
Always check the back of packaging to see whether its recyclable or not. A lot of plastic isn't, but people throw it in with the rest anyway.
There are different codes on plastic packaging that will tell you if it can be recycled or not if it isn't stated. You can use THIS as a guide to help you.
Batteries, electronics cannot be recycled with the rest of your rubbish. There are special collection points for these.
4. Avoid Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is a big killer. Accounting for over 10% of global emissions every year, the fast fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to global warming existing today. Unfortunately, due to our dreadful capitalist society, poverty rates have skyrocketed in recent years, even more so since the pandemic began. Because of this, we don't always have the funds to buy into sustainable brands, and fast fashion stores become a saving grace for necessities.
But there are still so many cost-efficient ways to shop sustainably without breaking your budget. Here are just a few ways to get your hands on cheap clothing:
Thrift stores and charity shops always have bargains hiding in their rails. You could even travel out of town to see what they have to offer.
Upcycling is a great way to transform old or unwanted clothes into new masterpieces. Check out our beginners guide here.
Swap with your friends! Wardrobe swaps are great because you can get your hands on a whole new wardrobe at zero cost. And no swaps are ever final, either, unless you decide. So if you change your mind, you can always get it back. Just make sure you 100% trust the friend you're swapping with...
3. Check Who You're Banking With
Nowadays, it's not enough to just shop sustainably, but we must bank sustainably too. Bankers don't get a bad rep for nothing, for many big names have their hands in some dirty pockets. In fact, the top 3 banks in the UK have donated millions in funding to gas companies and fossil fuel development, which - you guessed it - has a HUGE impact on the environment. A toddler could tell you that.
Questions to ask: who owns the bank? What do they do in their spare time? Who are their friends? What charities does the bank support? What organisations are they funding? What is their stance on climate action?
Most of this information is available online, you just have to make the effort to search it.
2. Reusable Accessories and Eco-Friendly Materials
Everyone's journey to sustainability starts with buying a tote bag and a reusable water bottle. But there is SO much more you can reuse than just that. Lunchboxes, cutlery and straws, coffee cups, dishwasher tablets, napkins, cleaning wipes, beauty products: all of these things have an eco-friendly, reusable counterpart.
Opt for less plastic and cotton, and aim for materials like hemp, steel or bamboo. It's all about what you're leaving behind, so don't dump any more carbon than you need to. With this mindset, you'll be plastic-free in no time.
1. Go Vegan
I hate to say it, but you knew it was coming. According to a study from Cambridge University, reducing your meat and dairy intake has been proven to be the one step you can take that has the biggest impact. In fact, the professor who ran the study was so convinced of this, that he could no longer justify eating meat.
The meat and dairy industry contributes a whopping 14.5% of global emissions, says the FAO, with over half of the earth's arable land used for animal farming and their feed. As an animal lover speaking, if you were to eat vegan for just one month, you could save the lives of 30 animals. Alternatively, if you were to cut down your meat and dairy intake by just 1/3, it would still make a huge difference on your own carbon footprint.
That's not to say stop there, but a realistic goal is easier to achieve. It's best to start smaller and work your way up. Rome wasn't built in a day, and not everyone has the willpower for, the financial stability for, or even access to a vegan lifestyle.
But if you take anything away from this list, let it be this: please try. Our planet is dying because of us.