The best cure if you’re feeling down about the precarious state of the planet is to take action. As we approach Earth Day on April 22, here are seven days’ worth of ways to lighten your load on this beautiful world we share.
Day 1: Say see ya to single-use items
Friends, we’ve got a trash problem. The good news is there’s something you can do about it. Most of us use single-use items like plastic straws, plastic bags or disposable coffee cups, but while they’re convenient, they also contribute to landfill, create giant masses of plastic that float in our oceans, and hurt wildlife. So today, commit to either saying no to these items when offered or buying a reusable version. Another way to tackle this is to opt out of paper flyers. Downloading the Flipp app is a great way to stay on top of deals when you stop receiving the hardcopy versions.
Day 2: Get your gardening gloves on!
Transporting food to stores can use a lot of energy, so to reduce that plant some vegetables and herbs at home. It’s a bit late in the season to sow them from seed, but you can pick up seedlings and supplies at your local garden center or home improvement store. As a bonus, digging in the dirt is said to boost mental health and will definitely help you feel connected to the Earth. Easy-to-grow veggies and herbs include tomatoes (make sure you have space for them — the indeterminate kind grow on vines, and the determinate kind are bushy and work in pots), lettuce, basil, and sugar snap peas.
Day 3: Try a meatless meal
Reducing the amount of meat you eat has a dual benefit; it helps your health and the planet. So today try a meatless meal that’s packed with protein. Some tempting plant-based options include tofu, and pulses like lentils, beans, and chickpeas, which are great for the Earth because they use less water to produce in comparison to meat. Looking for recipes? Try registered dietitian Abby Langer’s Deliciously Dairy-Free Creamy Tomato Rosemary Chickpeas, her Green Falafel with Tahini Sauce, or her Quick Mexican Lentils with Creamy Polenta.
Day 4: Trash talk
Round up a like-minded crew to make your local part of our planet as garbage-free as possible. Buy some supplies like garbage and recycling bags and gardening gloves, and head to a local park or other public greenspace or beach to pick up some trash together. Your community and the Earth will thank you!
Day 5: Green your spring clean
Take a close look at the products you use to keep your home and clothes clean, as some may have a harsher impact on the planet than others. So, pick up some vinegar and baking soda, as those two ingredients are part of many DIY cleaning options (and they’re also safer if you’ve got little ones at home who want to be helpers). Another option is to snap up some microfiber cloths to cut down on your use of paper towels.
Day 6: Transportation tune-up
There’s no doubt that a car is a very convenient way to get around, but the emissions associated with them, and the processes used to produce fossil fuels that power vehicles are tough on the Earth. So today, consider a different way to get around, at least part of the time. Biking is more planet-friendly, and will help you get more exercise. Buy a bike or spruce one you already own up so you use it more often. Or take a walk! I guarantee you’ll see the world a bit differently.
Day 7: Check, please!
Spring means it’s time to check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re in good working order. But if you find that they’re at the end of their life, don’t toss those batteries! Make sure to recycle them instead (your local municipality should be able to tell you how to best do so). Recycling batteries will cut down on garbage in your landfill and stop leakage of heavy metals in soil and groundwater.