Earth Day 2023: Healthy, affordable, eco-friendly habits
As Earth Day approaches again on April 22, get ready to be bombarded with greenwashing campaigns from the world’s manufacturers and ecommerce giants, ready to sell you solutions to climate change. From drinks in plastic bottles with “more recyclable” caps to cloth bags that rarely get used, corporations these days have endless ways to convince you to spend more money in the name of the planet.
The good news is that you don’t have to buy into these shameless pushes to buy, buy, buy in order to do things that are good for the environment. Here are some actions you can take this Earth Day that will save you some money while you save the planet, and keep you healthier while you’re at it:
Ditch single-serving bottled beverages
A lot of us underestimate how many bottles we consume each year, or we let ourselves off the hook because we recycle. Sure, it’s better to put bottles in the recycling bin than in the landfill, but the transport and water usage required for recycling still have a much greater climate footprint than avoiding bottled drinks altogether.
And besides the climate benefits, skipping single-serving bottled beverages can be good for both your bank balance and your health. If you or your family really can’t live without juice or soda, opt for large bottles instead of cases of drinks. This will save you money and encourage you to choose healthier portion sizes. Take things a step further by making water your beverage of choice, and stay hydrated all day by carrying a reusable bottle with you at all times.
Walk, bike, or use public transport whenever you can
Depending on where you live, this may sound either obvious or impossible. For those who live in cities, you’re likely making these choices anyway because it’s expensive or inefficient to get around by car. But for folks living in the suburbs or rural areas, there are probably ways to cut down on your daily driving. For example, make it a rule to never get in the car for a single errand. Combine your trips as much as possible, and avoid driving between places if they’re less than 15 minutes apart on foot. You’ll be reducing your contribution to air pollution, saving money on gas, and getting more steps in at the same time.
Vacation close to home
Summer is coming soon, and you’re probably thinking about fun destinations already. This year, when planning your vacation, consider staying closer to home instead of flying or driving long distances. This not only reduces transportation costs but also helps reduce your carbon footprint. Plus, it could give you the chance to discover some hidden gems in your own backyard!
Repair, don’t replace
While it’s true that things just aren’t made to last anymore, there are plenty of items in your home or your wardrobe whose lives could be extended with just a little elbow grease. If something breaks or stops working, don't rush to replace it. Consider repairing it instead. Thanks to YouTube and other great resources online like iFixit, it’s never been easier to learn how to fix something on your own. (Just be safe if electricity is involved!)
Pack a healthy lunch
We’ve all got to eat, right? If you’re not doing so already, consider packing your lunch at least a few days every week. It’s a healthier and more sustainable option than eating out, and by bringing your lunch in a reusable container, you reduce the amount of packaging waste that goes to landfills. A packed lunch also gives you more control over what you eat, leading to healthier choices and cost savings. (For bonus climate benefits, make most of those lunches with local vegetarian ingredients while you’re at it!)
“In order to change things, we need everyone – we need billions of activists.” — Climate activist Greta Thunberg
So what are you going to commit to doing this year to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to slowing climate change? Why not start small? Choose one of the actions above and stick to it for the next 2 weeks. Then, see if you can extend the habit or add another to your routine.
These may be small actions, but even the smallest steps ultimately lead somewhere, especially if we go together. Be sure to share this list with your friends and family, and invite them to join you on the journey!