Most people restrict celebrating the Earth to one day, but I firmly believe that we owe our planet a little more than 24 hours of love. Mother Earth does way more than feed us and clothe us -- no offense to our human moms. Without her biological, chemical, and physical makeup, we as a species would not exist in the thriving state that we do. Even though the human race is doing alright, the rest of the species around us and the planet we all reside on are not thriving as well as we are. Mother Earth is struggling to hang on right now, and our help in the matter is long overdue. Here are some suggestions to get you started on the path to making our planet healthy again this Earth Month.
1. Reusable Water Bottles
I am so glad that this trend has caught fire in the past five years or so, but I'd love to see a day when bottled water is no longer sold. Carrying a water bottle around with you may be a pain, but plastic water bottles are a completely unnecessary use of plastic. End of story.
2. Reuse your takeout containers
Some restaurants send leftover food home in a styrofoam container which is of no use in this matter, but others make great plastic containers that are completely reusable as tupperware for years to come!
As a student, I am appalled by two things when I buy textbooks: price & pages. The amount of paper we buy as college students is much higher than any generation before us, so buying books used allows us to keep our tree kill count low. The evolution of e-books has allowed for many students to completely eliminate the need to buy bound books, though many courses have not yet adapted to this method (insert eye roll here).
4. Keep your food local
While many people believe in keeping food local in order to help support the local economy, keeping food local does other great things for the environment. Any time we buy food that is out of season, such as apples in December or strawberries in January, that food had to have come from an environment far away. In order for that food to make it to your table, gas had to have been used to drive, fly, or take a railway to you. By keeping your grocery purchases local, you are cutting down on overall national and international carbon emissions.
5. Forget about plastic bags
I applaud the cities in the United States that have so far outlawed the use of plastic shopping bags. Plastic is a compound that will long outlast us as a human species, and if you have ever seen the chemical formula for it, you would understand why. The most damage done by plastics is to the animals around us, particularly those in the ocean. Plastic bags are actually one of the leading causes of death among sea turtles, who mistake them for their common prey, jellyfish. If you won't cut down on your plastic usage for me, do it for the turtles, please. They're so cute. Look, he's even happy you're reading this post and considering buying reusable bags!
6. Check your 'single use' usage
Every day, almost all of us will use something that we will never use again. Paper towels, napkins, tissues, etc. Check to see how often you are using things that are used only one time, and where you could possibly make some cuts. Do you absolutely need to use a new plastic spoon every day for breakfast because you are on the go? Perhaps you can begin to bring a regular spoon every day and wash it off at work, take it home, and pop it in the dishwasher! Ask yourself if you really need to use paper napkins every night or if cloth ones will do just as well. The Earth will thank you.
7. Reusable Straws!
Science Nerd Alert but I am really excited about the new advent in reusable straws. If you think about each time you go to a fast food restaurant and you are handed a drink, you are given a plastic straw, which you throw away. Why not carry a straw in your car? Again, maybe a nuisance, but the savings in landfill space over time would surprise you. You can buy most stable metal ones online at places like Amazon. And look, they even come in cute colors!
8. Recycle your Ziplocs
I always seem to forget that Ziploc bags are plastic too, and they can be recycled! As a college student that takes a lot of snacks on the go, it is important to remember that after a simple washing out with water, these things are just as recycle worthy as a plastic container.
Some of these things may seem like a nuisance, but remember that the Earth will only stay around as long as we can care for her. Just as the Lorax says, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."