April 22 is Earth Day—a day to really appreciate the planet we inhabit and challenge ourselves to make efforts daily to preserve it all year long.
Earth Day has been observed since April 22, 1970, when millions of people protested the negative impact industrial operations had on the environment, including increased air pollution that was causing health complications for children.
In the year following the first observance of Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency was created and stricter environmental laws were implemented in the U.S.
Now in its 49th year, the Earth Day Network reports more than 1 billion people from around the globe take part in Earth Day in hopes of promoting awareness of the impact of our ecological footprint while encouraging others to make strides toward improving the well-being of our planet.
Here are seven simple ways we can help the environment in our day-to-day lives on Earth Day and beyond:
1. Be mindful of your power usage.
Limit your electricity consumption by turning off lights and unplugging electronics that are not in use in your home. Take advantage of natural daylight and avoid excessive use of lamps and lights during the day. When your phone or laptop is done charging, unplug it.
This will ensure you are reducing power plant emissions that can be toxic to the environment and saving money on your electric bill.
2. Change up your commute.
Walk or ride your bike to destinations when you can, and when you can’t, consider carpooling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
Walk with your kids to or from school—or both ways. Ride your bikes, scooters or skateboards to local parks and enjoy time outdoors. Ask a colleague if they would be willing to carpool with you to work—which not only has environmental benefits, but also allows for the use of the carpool lane during rush-hour traffic.
3. Make recycling a priority.
Make recycling easy for your family by having designated containers for aluminum, paper and additional recyclables accessible. This way, you’ll keep waste to a minimum, and have a clear location for recyclables.
To make recycling more fun, encourage your family members, friends or roommates to recycle by using the funds made from dropping off recyclables at a local recycling center to do something fun—like bowling or going to the movies.
4. Pick up trash in your community.
Commit to a day of service in your community, and pick up trash on the streets, local parks or beaches. Do your part to keep litter off the streets, and encourage others to join in your efforts of beautifying your city to make it clean and healthy.
5. Support eco-friendly businesses.
Use your consumerism for good by purchasing products from eco-friendly businesses that manufacture their goods with recyclables or limit their plastic consumption. Buy reusable coffee cups, straws and drink containers, and shop at thrift stores to give items another chance before purchasing new things.
6. Conserve water.
Save water by limiting shower time or turning off running water in your sink while you brush your teeth. You will not only see a decrease in your water bill, but also help reduce energy consumption at wastewater treatment plants and be a better steward of natural resources.
7. Spread awareness.
Be a voice for the planet in your community by spreading awareness of why it’s important to protect the Earth and the steps you can take to do so. Join local environmental causes, and be an advocate for the environment in your community. This small step can encourage and motivate others to take small steps to better the environment—which can have a huge impact in the long run.