While April 22 is a wonderful celebration of our planet, we at Worldwatch believe that every day should be Earth Day. Adopt these easy changes and encourage others to join you in moving society toward a better balance with the natural world.
1. Green your home.
Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water. Then, use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
Install a low-flow shower-head. They don’t cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment. Also make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
2. Green your neighborhood.
Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.
3. Green your routine.
If possible, walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity. Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
4. Green your meals.
Whatever your diet, eat low on the food chain. This is especially true for seafood.
5. Green your shopping.
Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you’ve just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like Craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free. Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.
Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you’ll be happy when you don’t have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).
6. Green your waste.
Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it consumes enormous amounts of energy for production and transportation and generates large amounts of container waste. Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
Ask your local government to set up a regular electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.
Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging and improves your indoor air quality. The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
7. Green your fun.
Watch less television. Watching TV shortens your life (from being sedentary) and the advertising you’re exposed to pressures you to consume more stuff.
Vacation locally. Flying is one of the largest single producers of CO2 emissions.
Work less. When receiving a raise, ask instead for more vacation time. A shorter work week means a calmer, healthier lifestyle, more work opportunities for others, and less discretionary income for you—which means you’ll buy less stuff.
Be safe and intentional about sex and reproduction. Half of all pregnancies in North America, and two out of five worldwide, are unintended. No single behavior you choose is likely to have as much impact on the future of the world’s environment as having a child.