Here are 10 ways you can help animals and the environment on Earth Day (and every day)

NBC

As a proud vegan and self-professed tree-hugger, keeping up with recent legislation on the environment has been daunting — but staying up to date is important. Still, it can also be deeply distressing for us sensitive types.

Some days I’m Leslie Knope. Other days, I’m curled up in a little ball, crying about stuff like this.

Like a lot of us out there, I’m balancing self-care with staying involved. The good news is that there’s so much that needs to be done to help the earth. And a lot of it is really easy to do! Here are 10 steps you can take today, on Earth Day, and all your days on this precious planet.

1Stay up to date on environmental legislations and call your Senators.

 If you’re nervous, you can use scripts like this from Bustle. The first time I did it, I was shaking. Now? It’s easy — and it takes less than five minutes a day! You can find contact information for your Senators here.

2Work with larger, proven organizations.

If you’re not personally ready to take action, there’s no shame in making donations to or promoting trustworthy orgs like the World Wildlife Federation or Sierra Club.

There's some magic to be experienced outdoors today...

A post shared by Sierra Club (@sierraclub) on

3Get involved with local animal shelters.

You can find lots of info about your local animal shelters via The Humane Society. Be willing to do the unglamorous work. Things like cleaning out stalls, bookkeeping, or grooming animals.

4Pick up trash. No, seriously.

Try organizing a group for a day of volunteer trash pick-up. Visit VolunteerCleanup.org to find where trash pick-ups are happening near you.

A post shared by SAAD ABID (@saadabidofficiel) on

5Reduce the amount of trash you generate by transitioning away from plastic. 

Plastic is frequently found in the stomachs of washed up sea life and sea birds, and plastic is taking an extremely damaging toll on our oceans. The Mayo Clinic is even learning more about how it can be unsafe for humans.

Try reusable grocery bags instead. Hit up a farmer’s market with a cardboard box in tow instead of placing each veggie into it’s own bag at the store. Switch to glass and metal when possible.

6Watch and share reputable documentaries. 

Food, Inc.Forks Over Knives, and many other docs offer in-depth examinations of everything from over-farming livestock to the aforementioned dangers of plastic.

7It’s okay to disregard false narratives and lazy arguments.

This is where self-care really comes in. I often hear things like, “We should only be helping people, and not worrying about animals!” You don’t have to engage in those arguments if you don’t want to.

Helping animals and the environment is helping people, both in the long and short-term. Check out this moving video via TEDBlog about Trophic Cascades to see how intertwined everything truly is.

8Visit your local dump, recycling facilities, and farms.

It helps to see your impact on the world first hand. If you can’t get into any factory farms, you can always visit places like Farm Sanctuary to see the other side of the coin.

9Become an amateur investigator.

Remember how cool we thought Jessica Fletcher was in Murder, She Wrote? How about Harriet the Spy? Jessica Jones? Often, the amount of money that politicians receive from lobbyists is public information. That money usually explains their voting record. It’s there. You just have to look.

10Vote!

Last, but certainly not least, vote at every level. Vote in your local elections. Vote for the President of the United States. Vote your face off! Here is a quick way to register to vote.

One step at a time, okay? Whether you’re having one of your strong, Leslie Knope “save the environment” days, or one of your “curl up in a ball” days — you’ve got this.

More like this

animalsoriginalenvironmentoriginals
newsletter illustration

Giggles in Your Inbox

!