Earth Day and Every Day: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
A day celebrating our planet and the environment around us, today, April 22nd, is officially Earth day. We know that there are exciting advancements in the field of astronautics this year, exploring the possibility of human life on other worlds, but for now Earth is still the first and only planet we have. Every day you actively do something to improve our world is a step towards improving our future.
Sometimes it is easy to believe that solving large environmental problems is for the scientists of the world – that the problems are too big for us to help or make a difference. Here are ten ways that anyone and everyone can help make Earth a better place:
- Recycle – Recycling is a great small way you can help reduce the amount of waste sitting in landfills or floating in our oceans. Some counties incentivize recycling by providing residents with recycling bins, but did you know that in many states, apartment complexes and other residential housing facilities are required to provide you with an option to recycle? There are different types of recycling, some of which are easier to accomplish on a larger scale. Capitol Tech, for example, has campus-wide single-stream recycling which lets us put all of our recyclables into the same bin to be sorted later at our local recycling facility.
- Reduce and Reuse – You’ve heard reduce, reuse, recycle before, but maybe you aren’t sure where to start. Easy ways to reduce and reuse include packing your lunch with washable containers instead of plastic bags, buying and using a reusable water bottle, switching all of your bills to e-bills and online invoices to save paper, trying to be mindful of the amount of water you use, or even donating or purchasing your clothing at a local charity or thrift store. Reducing and reusing is anything that helps you and others make less and use whatever tools or products already exist to reduce waste.
- Update Your Home – From big upgrades to small changes, there are more and more products out there to help you go green. Switch to buying energy efficient lightbulbs, get that leaky faucet fixed, think about investing in energy efficient windows. Making these changes is not only better for the environment, it can help save you money! Even something as simple as planting a garden could help make your wallet and the earth a little greener at the same time.
- Assess your Cleaning Products – What kind of products do you use to clean with? Flushing or washing harsh chemicals down our drains or running them over our surfaces is bad for the environment and us. If you aren’t into green or natural cleaning products check to see if what you’re using is non-toxic. You may want to make a switch.
- Drive Less – Can you bike to work? How about walking to your local ice cream shop instead of driving? Is there anyone you might be able to carpool with? Reducing the number of cars on the road lessens traffic and helps reduce fuel emissions. If it’s an option for you, walking or biking to your destination is a great way to stay in touch with the world around you and it’s good for you too!
- Turn it Off if you Aren’t Using it – Believe us techie friends, we know how hard it can be to unplug, but it will save your energy bill and help the environment. Turn lights off when you leave the room, lower the temperature on your thermostat when you aren’t home, and yes, turn off your computer. Bonus points if you are able to unplug some of your electronics – which often continue using and storing electricity even when you don’t have them turned on.
- Mow Your Lawn Less Often – It turns out that bees, butterflies, and other insects that help extend and protect the natural cycle of our environment aren’t big fans of lawnmowers. Spacing out your lawn mowing by a couple of weeks can help keep your yard more bee-friendly and it’s a great excuse to cut back on one of your regular chores.
- GO VOTE – The importance of showing up to vote cannot be overstated. When we turn up to vote we are choosing our leaders. Do your research and make sure that taking care of the environment is important to the candidates you vote for, because if our leaders aren’t making Earth a priority then it is much harder for those scientists we rely on to make the big changes our planet needs.
- Go Green with Education – Teach your children the importance of taking care of the environment. Get them involved in planting something or playing outside. Hiking, biking, or just enjoying nature creates a spark in children that they remember as adults. Teach them about the wonder of how things grow, about animals and bugs and plants, or where rainwater comes from. Let it be fun and hands-on. You might even be able to volunteer at a school to teach a lesson on nature.
- Volunteer – Volunteer your time if you have it to spare. There are a wide variety of groups out there that specialize in activities that help our planet. You could even start your own group if you see a potential for change. Click here to check out some recommendations by Baltimore Magazine.