Earth Day

10 Ways to Live More Responsibly This Earth Day

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Earth Day

I think today’s a good day to remember how precious the earth is, and how good it is. We take so much for granted with regards to our world. We consume, and we use, and we dispose without a second thought. The consensus among human beings is that the earth will go on for our children, much like it did for our grandparents, and our parents, and for us.

But we all know that’s not going to happen if we continue the way that we are. The earth can no longer sustain us because we are too many, and the truth is that we have used her gifts too extravagantly, with no thought for the morrow. The earth needs our help now, more than ever; it’s time to give back. It has been time, for a long time now.

One of the things that people often tell me is that they live in old houses or apartments that don’t have solar panels or provisions for environmentally friendly living. The truth is that many of us don’t live in homes like that. What I tell people is that it’s important to do what you can, when you can, with what you have. You can do simple things that will make a difference, and if you start to do them now it’s better than not having done them at all. So make this Earth Day your starting point to live in a more sustainable way.

For those of you with children, this is a perfect way to set an example to your children so that they can continue what you start. We often talk about leaving the earth to our children, so it’s important to show them what that asks of us on a daily basis, and so that they understand that one day, when it’s their turn, they will have to take up the mantles. So, don’t forget. Include your children in Earth Day activities. Teach them about the green choices that you’re making and teach them why it’s important.

10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

1. Plant Fruit and Veg

In my previous post, I wrote about how it’s important to plant fruits and vegetables so that we can reduce our dependence on fruit and veg that have to fly thousands of miles to get to our tables. It’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, besides which gardening is a good stress reliever. Growing food locally can also help you make new friends in your community. It’s all win-win-win!

2. Swap Out Those Bulbs

Change all your light bulbs to energy-saving light bulbs, or compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to ten times longer than incandescent light bulbs. Not only that, they use 50 to 80 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs.

3. Replace Old Appliances with Energy-Efficient Models

When it comes time to get a new appliance, choose an energy-efficient model. Look for the energy star label whether you’re buying a refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, or air conditioner

4. Ditch Disposable Bags

When it comes time to do your grocery shopping, take your own reusable bags with you. When you stop using disposable grocery bags, you’re putting less waste out there into the environment. Besides, if you’re the crafty type, you can make your own cute reusable bags. There are so many gorgeous designs and patterns out there.

5. Entertain Responsibly

I have friends who won’t stop buying plastic plates and cutlery, particularly when their kids have birthday parties every year. I understand that it’s easier, but why go down the plastic route when there are so many eco-friendly alternatives available? If you don’t know how long it takes for plastic to break down in the environment, you should.

6. Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

I get it. I love my caffeine, and I can’t function without it on a daily basis. But I make mine at home because I work from home. Still, if I worked out of the house I know I’d be just like a lot of you, lining up at a local café for my caffeine fix. If you buy coffee regularly, you should have your own reusable coffee mug. Disposable coffee cups are a huge problem because of just how much landfill they occupy. Like plastic, they take decades to break down. We need to stop doing this to our lovely earth.

7. Cold, Please

Laundry doesn’t really need a hot water bath when it gets done. Choose to do your laundry in cold water instead of hot. Cold water is actually better for the clothes anyway.

8. Hydrate Responsibly

Speaking of plastic, it’s time to stop buying plastic bottled water. Use a green reusable alternative. My favorite bottles are the Klean Kanteen bottles — they look great, and they last forever. Watch this documentary called The Story of Bottled Water and choose to hydrate responsibly.

9. Flip the Switch

When you leave a room, turn the lights off. Turn things off when you’re done with them. Your computer doesn’t have to be on all night long. The fan needn’t be on if you’re not in that room. Your house doesn’t have to be lit up like a Christmas tree. Flip those switches off! Unplug unused chargers and appliances too.

10. Slow Down

There’s no need to race your car from point A to point B as though the hounds of hell are after you. Slow down; drive at the lower end of the speed limit. You’re not a Formula One driver, and this isn’t the Monaco GP. You’re less likely to hurt yourself, or someone else, and more likely to actually enjoy your errands. Driving fast is not only bad for the environment; it doesn’t do your stress levels any favors either. Combine all of your errands and put the car away when you’re done. When you next have to go out, walk, use a bicycle, or opt for public transportation instead.

I’ve given you ten things you can do right now to start living more responsibly. There are more. You can opt out of receiving junk mail, pay your bills online to save paper and hassle, and make your own household cleaners. Support restaurants that serve local and seasonal food, and support local stores whenever possible. Buy reused things whenever possible by checking local op shops or looking on Craigslist. Skip using dryers and dry your laundry on the line whenever possible. Do an energy audit of your home. Harvest rainwater and use it to water your lawn or wash the car.

You can do this. You don’t have to live in a new-fangled house with all the bits and bobs. That would be nice, but until you can make that happen, do this. Start today.

It’s your earth too.

Awanthi Vardaraj lives and writes in the port city of Chennai, in the south of India, where she runs her own small artisanal bakery and keeps a garden full of jasmine plants and herbs that she still cannot name. As a freelance writer, she mostly focuses on food, feminism, travel, mental health, and poverty. She also nurtures a deep love for the Oxford comma and the semicolon. Visit her website at www.awanthi.com and follow her on Twitter at AwanthiVardaraj.

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