10 Meaningful Ways You Can Still Celebrate Earth MonthMegan Phelps

It’s Earth Month! Are you as excited as I am? Probably not…. After all, Earth Day (April 22nd– mark your calendars!) is my favorite holiday. It trumps Christmas. I’m going to let that sink in a little while.

I aim to follow the motto “everyday is Earth Day!” But I love the idea of having a month where eco-friendliness is encouraged for the average human. It gives a little gateway for people to try their hand at adopting an eco-friendly mindset. So that, if only for a month, earthy and eco-friendly are not just accepted, but celebrated! Smoothies in glass jars? Natural perfumes and canvas bags? You’re suddenly a cool cat. Or an Earth warrior. You know, they can be the same thing. (Ahem, Shailene Woodley.)

Here are some things you can try this Earth Month to give back to the Earth:

1. Opt out of junk mail– Letters are wonderful, yes it’s true. But is junk mail really necessary? (There is a correct answer and it is no.) dmachoice.org is good website for opting out of junk mailing lists.

2. Buy in Bulk– Buying in bulk helps you forgo packaging, which reduces your trash production. Don’t worry, people– there’s chocolate in the bulk section.

3. Spring Clean– Spring doesn’t just mean greener outdoors! When you spring clean (and donate any unwanted items), you are helping prevent companies from using energy, water, and excess materials. (Just try not to splurge on new items after you’ve cleaned all the old out; secondhand clothing stores are best to forgo the energy of making new clothing and other items.) Bring green indoors too!

4. Get DirtyStarting a garden in your yard, someone else’s, or in a plot at your local community garden is great for the environment! Food is local, oxygen is produced, and no pesticides are used. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a place to start a garden or don’t have time to maintain one, plant a tree.

5. Start a CompostStarting a compost bin can be simple, and it cuts out a lot of waste (and odor from the trash). As an added bonus, it can help your landscaping and/or garden! It’s a win-win(-win-win)!

6. Opt for Organic– Conventional foods are often sprayed with pesticides that can make their way into bodies of water via storm runoff. Not only this, but pesticides (which can’t always be washed off!) have been proven to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Organic foods are more expensive, but you don’t have to buy completely organic to make a difference!

7. Limit Your Shower Time– Reducing time you spend in the shower is a big way to cut down on your water usage (especially necessary if you live in a dry state or region, like California). If you want to get a little more crunchy, use a bucket or container to collect water and then use it to water your plants. Water is magical… don’t let it disappear. (That was totally not the slogan I used on my fourth grade poster for water conservation.)

8. Green Your Clean(ing) Routine– If you’re using synthetic cleaners, I’ve gotta tell you that the grass is greener on the other side (pun intended). Most commercial cleaners contain carcinogens and chemicals that are detrimental to your health and to the environment. By buying eco-friendly brands or making your own cleaning products (they are easier than you might think!), you can help the environment and your health. Yet another win-win outcome of green living.

9. Eat Less Meat– These days, people are not just going vegetarian and vegan “for the animals” or “for their health.” Going vegan or vegetarian–or simply cutting down on meat consumption, which reduces greenhouse gasses (from cows not, uh, producing methane gas) and water use (it takes a lot of water to make an animal grow!), among other things. No need for any fancy gadgets, tricks, or conservation leagues to start this– and it can start with the next bite you take.

10. Ditch The One-Use Plastic– This means plastic grocery bags (canvas or other reusable bags can be used instead), snack bags (alternatives: cloth napkins, reusable sandwich and snack wraps, or reusable containers), and utensils. Also, try to avoid single serving snacks that are individually-wrapped in plastic.

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