How to Help the Environment While Social Distancing
April 22, 2020 marks fifty years of Earth Day since the day’s inception in 1970, and this year’s focus is all about climate change.
Climate Change Affects Us All
Climate change is the term used to describe the changes to our global climate and environment including increasing temperatures, increased gas emissions, rising sea levels, acidifying oceans, and loss of glaciers and ice at the North and South poles. These changes affect the food chain, global weather patterns, and even public health.
It’s important for communities to make changes to the way they address emissions and waste, so that our societies can become more sustainable.
Help the Environment In Your Home
Obviously, large scale change in the way societies operate makes the biggest impact on climate change and carbon emissions. But we can take small steps as individuals too!
Since many of us are observing social distancing recommendations during a public health crisis, we can’t go out to a planned Earth Day event to make a difference in person, but there are plenty of things you can do at home to help protect our environment. Including staying home in the first place and reducing emissions!
Every little bit of help for our environment takes us in the right direction. The Earth Day website lists these 47 tips we can take to make a difference every day to improve our global climate and environment.
- Join Earth Day Network’s campaign to Protect Our Species.
- Join Earth Day Network’s campaign to End Plastic Pollution.
- Plant a tree or donate a tree through our Canopy Project.
- Join Earth Day Network’s campaign to create Foodprints for the Future.
- Join a local park, river or beach clean-up.
- Use environmentally-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products.
- Replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with efficient CFLs or LEDs. Reduce your carbon footprint by 450 pounds a year.
- Carpool, ride your bike, use public transportation or drive an electric or hybrid car. Reduce your carbon footprint by one pound for every mile you do not drive.
- Keep your tires properly inflated and get better gas mileage. Reduce your carbon footprint 20 pounds for each gallon of gas saved.
- Change your car’s air filter regularly.
- Teleconference instead of traveling. If you fly five times per year, those trips are likely to account for 75% of your personal carbon footprint.
- Stop using disposable plastics, especially single-use plastics like bottles, bags and straws.
- Recycle paper, plastic and glass. Reduce your garbage by 10% and your carbon footprint by 1,200 pounds a year.
- Donate your old clothes and home goods instead of throwing them out. When you need something, consider buying used items.
- Use cloth towels instead of paper ones.
- Change your paper bills to online billing. You’ll be saving trees and the fuel it takes to deliver your bills by truck.
- Read documents online instead of printing them.
- When you need to use paper, make sure it’s 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
- Set your office printer to print two-sided.
- Collect used printer, fax, and copier cartridges to recycle.
- Convince your school district or office building to choose reusable utensils, trays, and dishes in the cafeteria.
- Use reusable bottles for water, and reusable mugs for coffee.
- Bring reusable bags when you shop.
- Pack your lunch in a reusable bag.
- Organize to have healthy, locally-sourced food served in your school district.
- Buy local food to reduce the distance from farm to fork. Buy straight from the farm, frequent your local farmers’ market, or join a local food co-op.
- Buy organic food to keep your body and the environment free of toxic pesticides. Support farmers and companies who use organic ingredients.
- Grow your own organic garden, or join a farm-share group.
- Reduce your meat consumption to curb carbon emissions from the livestock industry.
- Compost kitchen scraps for use in your garden — turning waste into fertilizer.
- Take a shorter shower and use a water-saving shower head.
- Fix leaky faucets and shower-heads.
- Run your dishwasher only when it’s full to save water and energy.
- Conserve water outdoors by only watering your lawn in the early morning or late at night. Use drought-resistant plants in dry areas.
- Wash your clothes only when necessary, use cold water and line dry.
- Form a “green team” at your office to find cost-effective ways to conserve resources and promote sustainability.
- Volunteer for a local environmental group and/or make a donation.
- Pull out invasive plants in your yard or garden and replace them with native ones.
- Turn off and unplug electronics you’re not using. This includes turning off your computer at night.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Install solar panels on your roof.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator to save energy (and get exercise!).
- Move your heater thermostat down two degrees in winter and up two degrees in the summer to reduce your carbon footprint by 2,000 pounds.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater.
- Contact your utility company and find out about renewable energy options.
- Use energy-efficient appliances and electronics.
- Recycle batteries from small appliances and your electronics. Use rechargeable batteries instead!