Hooray, it’s Earth Day!
Earth Day, 2018 is here, and billions of people around the world are coming together to celebrate our mother planet. This year, Earth Day is dedicated specifically to reducing plastic litter and pollution. The BBC announced the British government’s plans to introduce a new plastic straw and cotton bud ban this week.
Meanwhile, the city council of Manhattan Beach, California voted unanimously on Tuesday night to institute a sweeping ban on plastics and the lesser known city of Swampscott, USA is similarly planning a complete plastic bag ban. From the scientific community, there have even been reports that a plastic eating enzyme has been discovered just in time to prevent our planet from becoming one giant, plastic garbage heap. All wonderful news to kick off Earth Day celebrations with; however, now is not the time to sit back, relax and let someone else clean up the mess, but to ask yourself: “What can I do for the rest of 2018 to support sustainable living in my home, school or workplace?”
Incorporating Sustainability Throughout your Home
It’s important to be aware of how your home could be more sustainable. There are easy ways that are effortless and will make you and your family safer, as well as safeguarding our planet for future generations:
1. Cut back on air Pollution:
Make your own cleaning solutions from simple ingredients rather than buying chemical cleaners that could harm your health over time. A lot of products we don’t think twice about spraying in the air or putting on our bodies, react with ozone to create dangerous particles or convert into formaldehyde.
“But wait! Isn’t formaldehyde what we use to embalm dead bodies?”
Why yes, dear reader – it certainly is, and it is recognised by the National Cancer Institute as a known carcinogen, so you definitely don’t want it floating around your home. The next time you do your weekly home or personal hygiene shop, take a quick look at the labels on the products you are purchasing to make sure they don’t contain any of the following ingredients that act like formaldehyde:
Incorporate essential oils rather than buying air sprays that contribute to greenhouse gases. However, be aware that your precious pets might not react well to the volatile organic compounds found in essential oils either. Cats are particularly sensitive to essential oils and can even be poisoned or suffer respiratory irritation if diffusers are frequently used in your home. Check out this guide before potentially putting your fur-baby’s health at risk.
2. To conserve your water:
Install low-flow faucets throughout your home as well as low-flow shower heads and toilets that are designed to conserve the amount of water being used when you flush.
Invest in energy star appliances that conserve water compared to standard appliances.
Installing a low-flow shower head will help with the amount of water you use, but you can also be more mindful of your water use by timing your showers, turning the water off while you brush your teeth, and using a basin to wash your dishes.
3. To save our forests:
Trees and our forests are such an important pillar for life on Earth, so protecting them is incredibly important for the overall health of our world. Just one tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds (22kilos) per year, and they greatly improve air quality by naturally trapping and removing pollutants like dust, ash, and smoke. Unfortunately, deforestation is a big issue, but there are ways that we can combat it. You can go paperless with your bills and statements, recycle as frequently as possible, and plant a tree in your neighbourhood. Boycott poorly packaged products in the supermarkets and let your voice be heard.
The internet is a powerful tool, so snap a pic on your snazzy smartphone, upload to social media while tagging the store in question to complain about the excessive and unnecessary use of packaging. You can also be aware of what types of products you are buying elsewhere to see if they are made in an environmentally friendly way with sustainable materials. For example, the look of natural wood is a popular trend in interior design, but you should take note of how companies are building and manufacturing these products.
Arhaus is one example of a company that makes their dining room sets from reclaimed wood and makes sure to produce sustainable products with seals of approval from the sustainable forestry initiative. Before you make your decision and invest in a new piece, consider that there are eco-friendly options that will look great in your home or pop on down to your local second-hand store to see if there are any “vintage” finds you can breathe a little life back in.
4. To cut back on landfills:
Use canvas and reusable grocery bags; cut plastic bags out of your life for good.
You can also make a point to use biodegradable products such as bamboo toothbrushes, rather than plastic ones that could end up in one of those great swirling ocean trash piles or lodged down some poor whale’s throat.
Recycling properly will also greatly help the issue of growing landfills, allowing us to repurpose recycled materials, and keeping them out of our natural ecosystems.
Donate your old stuff to charity. It is easy to chuck something in the trash and watch it disappear from your life. However, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! In addition to this, most non-profits like Goodwill in the USA provide paid employment and benefits for individuals on welfare, older people, people with criminal backgrounds who struggle to get a legal job elsewhere, and disabled people. So by donating, you’re not just easing the stress on Earth’s ability to accommodate all your old, unwanted impulse buys, but you’re also extending a helping hand to your fellow man.
There are so many small ways that we can make a difference to help our planet. The next time you find yourself at a loose end, take some time to research online how your actions affect aspects of conservation. We all learnt about the ice-caps melting at school, but somewhere along the way, the convenience of fast cars and plastic wrapped-everything took precedence over that awful and helpless ache we felt as little kids learning that the polar bears would lose their habitats. We can and should make more environmentally friendly choices and it is up to all of us to share our insights with others.