Last week on Instagram I shared 10 things you can do to make a difference to the health of our planet in celebration of Earth Day. I love that Earth Day exists as a reminder to everyone to be mindful about the impact their daily actions have on the planet, but really, EVERY DAY should be Earth Day!
The Earth is the only home we have and if we want to make it a nice place to live for our lifetime and future generations to come, it's in our best interest to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. That means being more concious about the amount of waste you are producing and energy that is being wasted.
"When the Earth is sick and polluted, human health is impossible." - Bobby McLeod, Activist
My hope is that this blog inspires you to live a life that will leave you and our planet in the most Joyous Health! These 8 tips, you will see how making small, simple changes in the way we live can have a huge impact on the health of our planet; so that every day can be Earth Day!
8 Ways to Make 2018 Earth Year
1. Reduce the amount of plastic you use in your home
Would you believe me if I told you that over the last 10 years, we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century? Or that enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times? And that 35 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away each year in the US alone?! (Source). Holy cow! Although, as much as these stats are frightening, I'm not surprised that this is the reality. Plastic is used in everything these days; water bottles, plastic wrap, straws, to-go cups and containers, clothing (nylon, lycra, Spandex), dishware and kids toys. But that's not to say we can't avoid those things -- we simply need to educate ourselves on the various sources of plastic and source more sustainable alternatives.
Remind yourself that it take about 100-1,000 years for plastics to degrade before purchasing something made with plastic.
Here are some ways you can start making the shift away from plastic:
Just to add to that, it's really important to be aware of the packaging of the products you use to ensure that if they are using plastic in their packaging, that they are reducing virgin plastic use or the creation of new plastic; as you can already tell, we already have enough [read: TOO MUCH!] on our planet.
2. Reduce waste
This sounds like a simple tip, but if it was that simple, more people would be doing it! There are so many ways we can reduce our waste and one of the first places you can start is by not creating any in the first place! That means limiting your use of things like paper towel and only using it when it's absolutely necessary, or using a microfiber cloth instead. Plastic bags for produce at the grocery store? Bring your own mesh bags! And that plastic wrap you're using to wrap up sandwiches everyday or cover up leftovers? Swap it for reusable beeswax wrap or use reusable glass or stainless steel food containers.
Keep track of your trash each week and avoid buying products with excessive packaging. Maybe even keep a log of where most of it is coming from and explore ways you can do better. It drives me bonkers when I open a package to find a box within a box that's covered with bubble wrap.
That's why I appreciate the thought that Seventh Generation puts into their 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) bottles as they are considering the impact of their products from the point they are created to the point where the consumer is finished with them!
3. Avoid dry cleaning your clothes
Not only is dry cleaning a huge concern for the health of individuals, due to the toxic chemical perchloroethylene (PERC) that is the most widely used chemical solvent in dry cleaning, it also has a negative impact on the environment from a toxic standpoint.
That's because PERC comes with very toxic effects, being a volatile organic compound (VOC), in that once it's released into the air, it breaks down into other chemicals that make their way into the groundwater.
Instead, ditch the dry cleaning! Yes, you CAN do that! If you happen to come across clothes that require dry cleaning, keep on walking :) There are so many other options out there! If you're looking for something that will be tough on stains, use a laundry detergent that is both safe and effective at removing stains.
I use Seventh Generation's Natural Laundry Detergent because it's effective at removing stains with plant-based enzymes – no toxic, harmful chemicals required (thank goodness!).
4. Get rid of fragranced products in your home
You may already know that I advise against wearing perfume , but the same goes for any products that have "fragrance" (parfum) as an ingredient such as candles, air fresheners and personal care products like body lotion or conventional shampoo. That's because the word "fragrance" can contain over 3000 different ingredients of which don't have to be disclosed to the consumer.
Even products that are labeled as being "unscented" can actually be a fragrance in itself that is made to smell unscented!
Fragrant products can pose a number of of health issues from organ toxicity and irritation of the skin, eyes and lungs.
Whether it's shampoo/conditioner, body lotion, perfume, household cleaning products or laundry detergent, go fragrance-free!
One thing I especially love about Seventh Generation is that they choose to scent their laundry detergent with natural essential oils and disclose all of the ingredients within their "Fresh Citrus" and "Fresh Lavender Sent" – a rare find in the household cleaning world! You can find a full list of the ingredients over here.
5. be mindful of your Energy consumption
I love this tip because it won't cost you anything. If anything, it will help you to save some money and save our planet! We don't often give much weight to how our energy usage might be impacting the planet and using up valuable, in some cases, non-renewable resources. All you need to incorporate this tip is a bit of heightened awareness to your energy usage and mindfulness towards how you can save energy, such as:
6. Save Water
This tip is somewhat similar to the last, but in regards to conserving water, simply because water = LIFE! When we conserve water, we are conserving energy because energy is required to pump water from a facility into your home or office.
We take water for granted because for most of us, water flows freely for us through a tap. But what happens when that fresh supply of fresh water runs out? Already with 70% of the world being covered by water, only 2.5% percent of it is fresh with the remainder being saline and ocean-based. It's up to us to save as much water as possible for the health of humans, aquatic life and biodiversity as a whole.
These are some simple ways to do so:
7. Grow a garden (or a window herb garden if you live in an apartment)
It's easy to look past the environmental impact of getting food onto our plate when it's as simple as going to your local grocery store. Rarely do we think of the distance that is traveled for food to arrive in front of us, or the amount of fossil fuels that are burned in the process.
In conventional farming, usage of pesticides and fertilizers are often used which can make their way into a nearby water source such as a river, ocean or pond. When a body of water becomes contaminated with pesticides, fish and other animal can get sick or die which disturbs the ecosystem as a whole.
The solution? Grow your own food, or as much as possible! By doing so, you can reduce your carbon footprint, keep pesticides and herbicides out of your food, preserve the nutritional value of the food (the sooner it's consumed after being picked, the higher the nutrient-density) and of course, experience how delicious growing your own fruits and vegetables are!
8. Start riding your bike or walk more as your main mode of transportation
I love walking as a form of transportation, exercise, stress relief and an energy boost! I also love riding my bike but sadly that activity is only available to me for around 5-6 months a year here in Canada (but I make a point to enjoy every moment!). The benefit of doing so isn't just for your personal health, but for our planet too.
As I'm sure you can imagine, cars come with a number of immediate and long-term effects on the environment as they emit a wide range of gases and solid matter, such as carbon dioxide. Not to mention, cars can contribute to smog-forming emissions (a mixture of air pollutants such as vapours, gases and particles).
At the very least, if riding your bike or walking isn't available to you, taking public transit is a much more energy efficient and eco-friendly alternative!
What's one eco-friendly habit you do daily (or that you are planning to do?)