My greatest pet peeve is when people use Earth Day as an excuse to just post photos of a vacation they went on years ago. Sure, it's great that you went to Spain that one time three years ago and finally have an excuse to post that VSCO photo of your trip, but don't pretend like you are sharing that photo because you actually care about Earth Day. It is really easy to become a passive consumer of Earth Day, but it is equally as easy to be an active participant in making a change for OUR Earth. So, here are 10 ways you can actually save the earth on Earth Day, and every day.
1. Don't use plastic bags
We all know how dangerous plastic bags are for our environment. Plastic takes 1,000 (Yes, you heard me: ONE. THOUSAND.) years to decompose, and ultimately just sits in and builds up landfills across the world. Think about that. You use a plastic bag for the convenience of 30 minutes, but that same plastic bag will end up dirtying our planet and hurting animals for 525,600,000 minutes. This doesn't have to be the case, because reusable bags are super convenient and cost-efficient as well. I have found some super cute ones on Amazon, at Whole Foods, and even at Home Goods. All you have to do is keep one or two reusable bags in your car, or maybe one in your backpack to help make an impact in saving the planet.
2. Turn off your electronics when you leave the room
Think about all the different electronics you have plugged into your outlets at home right now. In my room, I probably have my fan on, my lamp plugged in, and my phone charger stuck in the wall. This, keep in mind, is all while I'm not even in the room. Leaving our electronics plugged in or our lights on while we're not in the room is a ridiculous waste of resources, especially nonrenewable resources that could be better used for other, more beneficial, output. If this isn't reason enough, remember that it is estimated that the electronics you leave on in your room could cost you an additional $230 a year. That's at least 57 coffees that you can't buy because you just left your appliances plugged in for no reason. Think about that!
3. Turn off your water when you brush your teeth
We've all had the age-old debate regarding whether you should wet your toothbrush before or after you put on toothpaste, but one part that is undebatable is that our faucet should be turned off when we are brushing our teeth. Doing so during your two-minute teeth brushing period can save up to 5 gallons a day, which is such a simple and easy fix.
4. Be a vegetarian for a day
I'm not going to attempt to coerce you into feeling bad for eating animals, because I by no means am a vegetarian. However, it is an absolute fact that producing a single pound of meat takes 2,500 gallons of water. Considering how quickly the average American consumes hamburgers or chicken, this is a crazy amount of water to waste every single day. Substituting your chicken tenders for lunch for a salad and some rice just once a week could be just as filling for your stomach and much less harmful to our environment. (And in my opinion, the fries and milkshakes at McDonald's are much better than the Big Macs!)
5. Don't grab a napkin unless you need it
I've watched people do it before, when preparing for a meal you grab three or four napkins, and you end up using one at most. Those extra and unused napkins just get tossed into the garbage and end up manifesting in a landfill that will never efficiently decompose. If we all just used one less napkin a day, we could save a billion pounds of space in landfills and could save our planet. So be smart about what you consume, and be realistic with how much you take.
Being eco-friendly takes little to no effort, and only requires simple fixes in your everyday life. But, every single person needs to partake in these changes, because everyone's part in this process matters. If we continue to just watch the world wither away and hope that someone else will take action, the world will never get better. Each and every person, me and you included, needs to take steps to care for and fix the mess we have made. So if you are going to post on Instagram about your love of the environment, promote how we can change the environment. Use your platform for education and entertainment, because every person matters and every action helps.