Did you know that the first celebration of Earth Day actually took place in 1970? It was a grassroots movement spurred by a combination of U.S. counterculture and destruction by an oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. The first Earth Day received partisan support and helped create the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The success of this event demonstrated that people were conscious of the impact they were having on the world around them and, more importantly, that they wanted to change bad behaviors.
To say that a lot has changed since 1970 would be an understatement. But what hasn’t changed is that we still acknowledge that we can do better. Each day is an opportunity to choose sustainable products, to make small changes in our lifestyles, and to think about how our decisions impact others. As an environmental firm, this constant thinking about the future is woven into our company culture. With that in mind, we would like to offer some suggestions for small improvements that can have a big impact:
At the beginning of your week, take a few minutes to organize your errands. Do you really need to go out every night and pick something up? If you’re visiting more than one location, what route makes the most logical sense? And, if you’re feeling generous – ask if you can pick things up for your coworkers, family, and friends. Venmo is great!
Embrace Your Inner Chef
It is estimated that up to 40% of food is thrown away in the US. Be strategic about what you buy (make realistic lists) and embrace leftovers. This will save you money and calories (no running out for a fast food lunch)! And get creative! www.supercook.com allows you to type in what you have on hand and creates a recipe for you. Or just throw everything in the blender and make soup!
Be an Energy Star
Energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances might cost a bit more upfront, but they save money in the long term. Look for the Energy Star Label, which is a sign of a product’s efficiency, and check out their website for smart buying tips: www.energystar.gov.
Offer Mother Nature a Helping Hand
Strive for the balance of not being the neighbor with an old bathtub on your front yard and the neighbor who cuts blades of grass by hand. Your lawn doesn’t have to be the manicured grassy field out of a landscape architecture magazine. Instead, a low-cost-, low-maintenance, and good-for-the-Earth lawn is one that incorporates native plants that don’t require extensive watering or fertilizer. Timeless for a reason, This Old House (https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/11-ways-to-save-water-time-and-money-your-landscape-0) and Better Homes & Gardens (https://www.bhg.com/gardening/landscaping-projects/landscape-basics/stretch-your-landscape-dollar/) have some great ideas!
Piggybacking on our last topic, compost can be excellent for your garden and plants. At-home composting reduces waste in landfills and lowers your carbon footprint. The EPA has some great tips for beginning composters (https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home) and if you live an apartment (and are not opposed to sharing that apartment with worms), check out vermicomposting (https://wastelandrebel.com/en/apartment-composting-with-a-worm-bin/).
Create a Truly Reusable Bag
Many stores only encouraging reusable bags by offering money off your bill, but some are doing away with plastic bags altogether. Last year we gave our employees reusable bags made out of recycled plastic; this year we found a way to up our game and show our personalities! Have some old t-shirts taking up precious drawer space? Turn them into a reusable bag without sewing! https://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/
These might be small changes, but when enough people make enough small changes, the impact is HUGE! We encourage you to make whatever changes make sense for you and to share that information with others. This week our social media posts will be offering additional small tips that have an added benefit – they’re good for your health as well!