As most of you know, Earth Day recently passed. April 22nd to be precise. It’s the day we all whip out our Trader Joe’s environment-friendly recycling bags and make posts on our social media with pretty pictures highlighting the places we’ve been. I’m not trying to single anyone out. I was guilty too of posting a heavily filtered picture of the ocean with a couple flower emojis and a location tag.
But as I was scrolling down Twitter the other day, a couple posts stood out to me. They talked about doing more for the environment than just posting a picture. That, if we cared as much about the environment as we did the number of “likes” we got on our Instagram photos displaying it, maybe our home, Earth, wouldn’t have as many problems.
And if I’m being honest, it made me feel really bad. Am I passionate about the environment? Yes. Do I follow a wildlife conservation page on Instagram and like their photos? Yes. But, what do I really do for the environment besides occasionally recycle my Gatorade bottles? Nothing. And that made me feel like a hypocrite. Here I was preaching about treating the earth with some respect, yet had done zilch about it myself.
I’m not asking you to change the world or join major conservation groups. (Major props to you if you do however). All I am saying is, if you made a post about the environment this past Earth Day, (like I did) it's time to initiate action behind your emojis. Start recycling, donate to a wildlife conservation group, stop using plastic bags at your local grocery stores. All of these things are so easy! Little tweaks in your life, I promise, won’t change your whole schedule. But they will change the environments.
By 2018 standards, there are 7.53 billion people in the world, 323.13 million in the US. As we know from our elementary math class, all it takes is for a modest percentage of our population committing to something inconsiderable to make a significant change.
To illustrate this simple process, I will explain some small changes you can make in your everyday life to help keep this world clean. As, the Lorax once said, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.”
1. Save water.
By USGS’s calculations, the average person uses about 80-100 gallons of water PER DAY. That's insane! So much of that water is wasted. To use less, don’t keep your faucets running while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. Wash your car at a car wash that utilizes recycled water, water your plants in the morning, and only wash your clothes and dishes when the machine is full.
2. Eliminate plastics.
As I stated before, it’s easy to get reusable shopping bags. You can find them at any of your grocery or retail stores. Think about the amount of grocery bags you use every time you go to buy food for your family. Then, think about the oceans they land in and marine life they strangle every day. The $1.99 bag is worth the lives of animals and sea life. This includes using reusable water bottles. There is no reason to buy plastic bottles. They are more expensive over time and just lead to more waste.
3. Shop online.
I know this sounds like a weird way to help the earth, but it reduces the carbon footprint you leave behind by limiting the volume of gas emissions and plastics you would have used.
4. Bike or walk to places that are close to you.
Not only is it a great way to stay in shape, it lowers the total amount of gas emissions that contribute to fog and acid rain. You can also organize a carpool with your friends and coworkers as alternative transportation to work or school. If you know someone that lives next to you, start ride sharing. It will save money and help the environment.
5. Clean after yourself - the easiest change to implement of them all.
Many of us are guilty of abandoning our trash when it flies just out of arm's reach instead of chasing it. Not to mention, throwing away our bottles and cardboard in the trash when the recycling bin is only a few feet away. Don’t be lazy. Every time you avoid being green in favor of an easier way, think about the wildlife you are harming at the expense of the post you made on the lasagna Earth Day.
It’s not hard to help our environment. All it takes is being slightly less lazy and little more cautious of your actions. So next year, when Earth Day comes around again, I want you to post that heavily edited photo of you posing in front of some ridiculously beautiful sunset. But… I also want you to post it knowing that you’ve done something meaningful, in addition to all that editing, to keep the earth healthy.