Earth Day is coming up on April 22. If you’re planning to mark the occasion, there are a number of ways to celebrate and appreciate our planet. What better way to do so than to take an audit of some of the things you can do to benefit the earth? You don’t necessarily need to make a large gesture, like going out to buy an electric car or installing solar panels on your home. There are many small steps you can take to ensure you’re using energy efficiently (which has the added benefit of lowering your bills), keeping your carbon footprint compact and minimizing your impact on the planet.
Get energy efficient at home
Choose your appliances wisely and keep them unplugged – Household appliances account for up to 14% of the energy used in the average Canadian home. 1ENERGY STAR is a certification can help streamline your energy use on everything from your dishwasher to your flat screen TV. Consider that if all TVs sold in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR-certified models, greenhouse gas savings would grow to 15 billion pounds per year!2 The small things matter too. Did you know that a cellphone cord you leave plugged in still uses energy? Unplug your small appliances and chargers when not in use to avoid wastage and unnecessary cost.
Remove stains without straining the environment – There are a couple of simple steps you can take to green your laundry routine – an energy-intensive activity. Water heating makes up about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a washing machine.3 Why not consider using the cold water cycle? There are even specially formulated laundry detergents available for cold water washing. Next to choosing an energy-efficient dryer, using it less is best. Why not opt for the clothes line now that the weather is getting better, or an indoor drying rack? You’ll reduce wear and tear on your clothes and linens, and help the environment out too.
Healthier for you, and the planet
Eat less meat – Vegetarianism and veganism aren’t for everyone, but even omnivores eat more meat than they should. Compelling evidence, such as that presented in The China Study4 suggests that consuming more plants and less meat and dairy can lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and a host of other ailments. Producing red meat in particular is very resource intensive – it consumes 150% more greenhouse gas emissions than chicken or fish. So what’s good for you, is also good for the planet. And if you’re buying and cooking smaller portions of meat, you can treat yourself by buying organic or better quality cuts.
Go local for a lower carbon footprint – Eating seasonal and local has ample rewards. Warming weather means more options to buy from and support local growers. Eating in season means you’re eating produce at its peak taste and freshness. While imported produce offers tremendous convenient, eating local whenever possible means a reduced carbon footprint as well as economic and social benefits.
Be high maintenance
Regular car maintenance – Ensuring that your vehicle is in good working order can reduce its impact on your pocketbook and the environment. Regularly monitoring proper tire pressure, engine tuning, engine oil levels and other maintenance issues are not only good for your car, but can reduce emissions as well.
Repair rather than throw out – Whether it’s your car or your favourite cardigan, trying to buy quality items and making a few strategic repairs to prolong its life is easier on the planet than continually buying new. Digital commerce often makes replacing things as easy as clicking on a button, so it’s tempting to constantly buy new things. Extending the life of what you have while making thoughtful, rather than hasty, purchases can go a long way to helping the environment (and possibly your bank account).
Happy Earth Day!