Earth Day has come-- we've all seen the countless Instagram posts of beautiful pictures from all over the world in appreciation for our shared home. But Earth Day also has gone, and the topic of environmental activism has quickly been forgotten. Some celebrate Earth Week in order to raise even more awareness for the cause, but it all leaves as quickly as it comes. And while appreciating Earth is always important, it is not enough.
In order to salvage our planet, we have to do more than just appreciate it. We have to care enough to help, and we have to help enough to make a difference.
So how can we live environmentally friendly? It's much simpler than most think.
1.) Reduce meat consumption.
Vegetarians and vegans sometimes get a bad rap, but the practice of not eating meat is actually super helpful in protecting our home. Cows and other 'ruminant animals' emit methane, thus connecting beef production directly to greenhouse gas emissions. Going further, land used for livestock accounts for a huge portion of our land, making the loss of the land needed to expand agriculture the leading cause of wildlife extinction. Meat is all around us, but a reduction in beef production can make a significant difference in our current environmental climate.
2.) Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Continuing on the topic of reduction, we have the age-old catchphrase of the Three R's. And maybe because we have heard it so many times, we become numb to its meaning. But practicing this method can make an impact on the environment-- and is really easy to do! Be conscientious of your energy and water usage (we all overuse!), reuse products as much as you can, and recycle. Recycling helps the pollution of harmful greenhouse gases that are caused by landfills. You can make a big difference if you practice these three simple steps.
3.) Use sustainable products.
Sustainable, or eco-friendly, products are also often overlooked. Reusing items, such as cloth shopping bags over plastic bags, contribute to the reduction of waste-- and the 26.7 million tons of trash that we create per year. As they become increasingly in-demand, these products are quite accessible. Metal straws had become all-the-rage about a year ago, and while it's a step in the right direction, it isn't enough. Consider buying reusable shopping bags and water bottles, investing in eco-friendly technology, and avoiding fast fashion (cheap materials being produced in an environmentally harmful way).
4.) Be politically aware.
This is perhaps the most important step and something that might not be promoted in the same light as other forms of living environmentally friendly. Although we have some amazing environmental activists in our modern-day world, we also have tons of opposing powers. 100 companies have been responsible for 71% of the world's industrial greenhouse gas emission-- something that capitalism essentially enables. Resources for energy that are increasingly used have an incredibly damaging impact on the environment but are continued to be used by politicians and corporations alike with little to no repercussions. And most notably, we have multiple big-league politicians whose agenda does not include the environment at all. (So, no, Earth Day posts on Instagram don't necessarily 'count' if you supported Donald Trump.) We have a lot of power to make a difference by ourselves, but a huge portion of the power to change the world lies in the hands of few. We must continue to support and vote for politicians who are dedicated to making a difference and do everything we can to make sure that our voices are heard when politicians refuse to listen.
Earth Day was created in 1970 as a response to the lack of environmental activism in order to educate and raise awareness. It is more than just a day to post the nature shots you've been harboring. Living environmentally-friendly is an everyday action and one we all must strive for.