Apr 23, 2017

19 Ways to Give Earth Day Meaning

On Saturday, April 22, millions of people across the globe celebrate Earth Day by participating in eco-friendly activities to make a positive impact on the world we live in. 

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This special day is also the perfect opportunity to start thinking about how you can make permanent changes, be it at home, work, or in the community, that will make your everyday lifestyle more envionmentally friendly. Why should you do this?

This is why.

Many of us aren't fully aware of the impact our daily routines affect envioronmental issues such as pollution, increasing e-waste, and climate change. While it's incredibly easy to take the world for granted in our fast paced society, it's never too late to become an environmental steward by committing to be more kind to the planet, taking action, and inspiring others to do the same.


Here are just some things you can do to go green and make every day be as important as Earth Day.

Go paperless.

Over a third of the space in local landfills is taken up by paper waste alone. Paper waste generates methane gas, which is harmful to the environment.

Today's technology makes it incredibly easy to go paperless. There are various apps and services to help you cut back on how much paper you receive, use, and generate, such as Evernote Scannable for digitizing paper documents.

Request bills, statements and newsletters to be delivered electronically via email - for example, there's an option to "go paperless" on most credit card sites, and you can choose to receive e-bills for your utility bills rather than in the mail.

Any paper items you do still want to receive or that you have laying around, like newspapers, cardboard boxes, the dusty phone books you many have from ten years ago, and magazines, should be recycled - always keep separate recycle bins at home and at work.

Stop receiving phone books.

You can use the National Yellow Pages Consumer Choice and Opt-Out Site to opt out of receiving phone books! How many of us never them anymore, yet still receive them? Put that on your to do list for before you go to bed tonight.

Opt-out of junk mail.

Put yourself on the National Do Not Mail List.The Eco-Cycle website goes into greater detail about stopping various types of mail such as credit card solicitations and other direct mailings. Putting a stop to the junk mail will also protect you against identity theft as an added benefit.

Go digital with all books, magazines, and even textbooks.

Instead of casually picking them up in the checkout line, you can get great deals on digital versions of your favorite magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens, Allrecipes and Family circleMagazines.com also has amazing savings.

In addition to an endless supply of digital books on Amazon, Booksamillion is just one of many sites where you can by eBooks, inlcuding bestellers, to read on your tablet.

If you're in school or have kids in school, consider renting and/or buying digital versions of the the textbooks rather than the actual 4,000 pound book! Vitalsource is one site that sells E-textbooks.

Cancel your newspaper delivery.

Cut back on newspapers piling up and save money at the same time by stopping your newspaper service and subscibing to digital newspapers with Discounted Newspapers - you can search for your local paper as well as receive national papers like USA Today.

Definitely a thing of the past.

Change the way you save when you shop.

You can avoid or cut down on the amount of paper coupons you use or get cash back with sites such as SavingStar and the Checkout 51 app. Webites you may use regularly like Coupons.com or RedPlum have digital coupons as well as paper ones so that you don't have to get their flyers in the mail if you don't want to, and so do most store websites including Dollar General and Walgreens. It's also easy to preview weekly circulars on Sunday Coupon Inserts or various coupon and deal blogs.

You can view the weekly ads for most of your favorite stores like WalgreensTarget and Dollar Tree online instead of in the newspaper by using their app or going to their website, or with services such as Flipp. Flipp even lets you make a digital shopping list - every bit of paper saved counts! Plus you're less likely to leave it at home ;)

You can not only get circulars, coupons, or reminders about sales by email or by using their app on your phone rather than in your mailbox for most stores, but also, a great many stores, like Macy's when you use their app and Bath and Body Works when you sign up for their email, will give you a percentage off just for signing up, or for the first time you use it to make a purchase.

Invest in better tech.

You can shop online at Best Buy for the latest daily and weekly deals on tablets and other tech. It may be time to make an investment in a tablet and/or smart(er) phone so that you can use all the great apps and websites out there as well as for reading. Once you're up to date, read this article and get these 8 apps to help you treat every day like it's Earth Day.

Stay unplugged as often as possible.

Did you know that electronics and office equipment - including computers, phone chargers, clocks, TVs and printers - continue to use electricity when they're off but still plugged into an outlet? (I didn't until recenty). They're called "energy vampires". In households across the U.S., this wasted energy costs consumers over $5.8 billion per year and sends greater than 87 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.

Make a pact with yourself and your family to reduce the amount of energy your family uses. While this can be as simple as turning off lights or the TV when you're not in the room, which many people typically do anyway, it's actually unplugging electronics and appliances when they aren't being used that's a super way to save money and protect the enviornment.

Fax online.

You can send and receive faxes at home or at work for as low as $5.00 a month with services such as Fax It Fast or Smart Fax, which is one I've used for many years. Both of them have free trials, too. This will reduce paper waste as well as eliminate the need for having yet another piece of equipment plugged in needlessly.

Fax It Fax Faxing

No paper jams, either.

Eat less meat - instead, try to plan meals with more "renewable" ingredients, like fruits and veggies. According to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute, 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.

Paint your thumb green.

Many people plant trees for Earth Day and at other times of the year to combat reforestation, and not only can you do that, you can take it a step further by planting a garden in your yard, or even on your balcony if you live in a small space.

Vertical garden planter.

Tons of online books out there will walk you through learning about gardening if you're a novice. You can plant flowers, herbs or vegetables for an activity that's fun, healthy, and will save you money throughout the year as well as benefit the environment.

Recycle all of your batteries.

Many household electronics and tech gadgets use rechargeable batteries that contain materials that are potentially harmful to the environment and should never be thrown into the trash. When they end up in landfills, they release dangerous chemicals into the environment. You may have heard how dangerous old batteries are to handle - think battery acid - now think of that on a much larger scale. According to Earth911, 3 billion batteries are purchased each year in the US. That’s 250 million pounds of batteries in the US that wind up in landfills!

Call2Recycle Inc. strives to minimize the environmental impact of products through responsible disposal by offering an easy and no-cost recycling solution for rechargeable batteries. Call2Recycle has a network of more than 30,000 drop-off locations, including retail stores in your own community that you may already visit regularly. Collection sites accept cellphones and rechargeable batteries (weighing up to 11 pounds), including those you find in laptops, digital cameras, two-way radios, MP3 players or iPods, tablets and cordless phones.

Autozone gives you  a $10 AutoZone merchandise card when you bring your old car battery in for recycling (while other places charge you a disposal fee ;))

Learn how and where to recycle absolutely everything.

It's not always enough to just separate your recyclables - it's important to learn how to recycle everything properly. The website I Want To Be tells you exactly how to recycle any item you can think of, including aluminum, glass, foam, paper, electronics, plastic bags and containers, film, steel, food scraps and cartons, automotive and household hazardous waste items, and even yard debris.

Since some items that can be recycled are thrown away because people do not know what can be recycled, how to do it properly, and then where to recycle them, I Want To Be also helps you locate recycling centers in your area.

Educate yourself online about important environmental issues.

This year's Earth Day focusus on Environmental & Climate Literacy. The Earth Day Network website, eathday.org, discusses the meaning behind earth day as well as serious enviornmental issues such as reforestation and endangered species.

Stop using plastic bags forever!

Plastic bags are not recyclable in curbside recycling bins. You typically can't recycle plastic bags easily because the process is very difficult - so please just don't use them!

Change the gifts you buy or how they're delivered.

This upcycled charm bracelet from ReUseIt.com is made from recycled materials from existing jewelry. Going green isn't just about what you recycle, it's also about what it can be repurposed into.

If you're buying a gift card for someone, have it delivered quickly and easily from great stores like Bed Bath and Beyond to the recipient's email rather than sending it by regular mail.

Start composting.

If you don't know anything about composting, start with a kitchen composter. It's also a good idea if you avoid composting because yes, iit because it can be messy, stinky, and attract unwanted flies - but it's necessary for our environment.. The Full Circle Scrap Happy Freezer Compost Bin below is from ReUseIt.com. It was designed to make it easy to put those compostable scraps to use. Just attach it to any drawer, scoop your food waste right into the bin, and pop it in the freezer. Scraps stay frozen until you are ready to compost leaving you with no mess, no smell, and no flies.

Full Circle Scrap Happy Freezer Compost Bin 

Use green cleaning products like the rest of the world already does. 

You can make your own green cleaning products or buy natural products. Many, many people already do this by using basic, cheap ingredients like baking soda and vinegar. There are instructions for making your own cleaners on eco-cycle's website, and on earth911's blog is a great recipe:

The website ReUseIt.com sells supplies for making your own products, such as DIY spray bottles.

BPA-free DIY Cleaning Spray Bottle

Use less disposable items.

Stop using paper plates and other disposable items. This is very important to do even if it seems too difficult. Sometimes meals and beverages on the go can't be avoided, or they're something you really like (Starbucks, anyone?) Still, make more of an effort to use re-usable drink and food containers instead of disposable ones. A lot of people already do this by bringing their own coffee mug to coffee shops. See? It's not that hard. :)

You should also purchase products with renewable packaging. For example, grocery items packaged in cartons are environmentally friendly because they can be recycled or composted. Since they're made from paper, they are a renewable resource - growing abundantly in forests.

Read up on simple lunch ideas you can bring to work instead of going out every day. It's healthier, too! The site ReUseIt.com  also sells reusable bags, lunch boxes, water bottles & more for your green home.

Welcome to Reuseit: Reusable Bags, Lunch Boxes, Water Bottles & More for Your Green Home

These changes - big and small - will create a positive impact and create a better world for ourselves and for future generations.

What do you want your carbon footprint to look like?