Earth Month Challenge: Can You Take One "Green" Action Every Day This Earth Month?
Every April 22nd, people around the world celebrate Earth Day. Earth Day is all about taking action to protect the world we play in. But as the years roll by, the toll we’re taking on the planet grows worse, which is pushing more and more people to allocate an entire month of positive action for the planet as opposed to just a single day. While we believe that every day is Earth Day, we want to challenge ourselves, and all of you, to do something for the Earth every single day for the month of April. Here’s a list of one thing to do every day for Earth Month.
Day 1: Start off your month of activism off with some democratic action. Get in touch with your local political representatives and demand action on climate change, pollution, and whatever local environmental issues your community faces.
Day 2: Did you know that up to 10% of your electric bill can be because of what’s called ‘phantom electric draw’? Your appliances and electronic devices can continue to use energy even when not in use. To counteract this, consider putting your electronics on a power strip to easily shut off when no longer in use. This will cut down on your carbon footprint and your bill too!
Day 3: Ditch the paper towels. While many paper towels are made from recycled materials, they themselves can’t typically be recycled, which just adds to the amount of trash in the landfill. Consider picking up some cloth hand towels instead. It’s easier on the planet to just wash them with your regular laundry loads and reuse. Hang dry to save on energy!
Day 4: Consider going meatless for a meal or a day. Vegetarians and vegans eat a diet that has a much smaller water and carbon footprint than diets heavy with animal products. We’re not saying you have to change up your whole life, but if every American went meatless for one day of the week, it’d be about the same as taking 7.4 million cars off the road.
Day 5: Already abstaining from animal products in your food? Good job! Did you know that processed foods have a much higher carbon footprint than whole foods? While your non-vegetarian counterparts are enjoying their meatless day, see if you can have a non-processed food day!
Day 6: Install a low flow toilet. In years past, low flow toilets have often disappointed, but believe me, the technology has come a long way in the last decade or so. Many utility companies actually have rebate programs in place too to help cover the cost of the retrofit.
Day 7: What are you going to do with all that junk in your trunk? Every 50 pounds of added weight in your vehicle reduces your fuel efficiency by about 1%. See if there’s any unnecessary stuff that you can remove from your car to improve its efficiency.
Day 8: While we’re on the subject of cars, take time each month to check your tires for leaks and low air. Having properly aired up tires will maximize your fuel efficiency.
Day 9: Does your company have a carpooling program? If not, it may be a good idea to get one started. Carpooling isn’t just fun, but it helps reduce the number of cars on the road. It’s not just good for the Earth but it makes rush hour a lot easier too.
Day 10: See if you can ditch the car entirely today. Prioritize errands that are a little bit closer to home. Try to walk or bicycle everywhere. Maybe today’s a good day to get outside for a hike and spend some time enjoying nature.
Day 11: How much water does your shower use? The standard shower head uses 2.2 gallons of water per minute. Installing a pressure-compensating lower flow shower head, usually a 1.5 gallon per minute shower, can reduce your annual water use by 5,400 gallons and save around $100 on your water heating bill.
Day 12: Hit the sack on time or an hour early! Reducing the amount of time you’re awake after the sun goes down cuts down a bit on your electric use, which helps reduce your overall carbon footprint!
Day 13: Many energy and municipal utility companies sell blocks of renewable energy that can be applied to your utility bill. Typically they cost just a couple extra dollars a month and it signals to your power company that there is a demand for renewable energy in the community. Organize with your neighbors to see if you can get your entire block on board with buying renewables!
Day 14: Read a book. Not only are books super awesome, but you don’t need electricity to read (during the day at least). Head over to a park with your favorite book and get a little fresh air all while not contributing carbon pollution.
Day 15: Is working from home possible for you and your co-workers. See if your company can have a company-wide work from home day one day during Earth Month. Doing so will reduce the number of cars on the road, easing up on pollution and making rush hour less of a nightmare for your community.
Day 16: When we throw stuff in the trash, it’s easy to just forget about it. But try this: instead of throwing things away for the day, just leave it out on your counter. It’ll give you a better visual idea of just how much garbage you’re producing every single day.
Day 17: Once you’ve got a better idea of how much trash you’re producing, see if you can go a day, or even better, a week without producing any trash that can’t be recycled or composted. It takes some conscious effort but you’ll be surprised how easy it can be.
Day 18: Store bought cleaners, even the “green” ones, can be full of toxic ingredients. And let’s face it, the single-use plastic containers they come in aren’t all that green, right? Instead, consider using white vinegar as a replacement for chemical-laden cleaners. It does about as good of a job, and if you add orange peels to the vinegar, it gives it a nice, fresh citrus smell!
Day 19: Junk mail really bums me out. A lot of the time it just ends up in the trash instead of recycling. Fortunately, Catalog Choice helps reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by automatically opting you out of it. It’s not often 100%, but it really helps reduce the amount of trash you get in the mail.
Day 20: Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are full. The fuller they are, the less hard your refrigerator has to work in order to keep itself cooled to the appropriate temperature.
Day 21: While we’re talking about refrigerators, make sure about once a month you’re vacuuming underneath the fridge and removing dust and lint from the coils. A clean refrigerator coil uses less energy than a dirty one.
Day 22: When you’re doing laundry, you can save a lot of energy by washing in cold water instead of hot. Not only do you save energy by not using hot water, but cold water is actually a lot easier on your clothes than hot water, especially if you run on a gentle cycle.
Day 23: Double up your eco-friendly savings by hanging your clothes to dry instead of running them through the dryer. Not only does it save power but it also helps your clothes last longer and can prevent shrinking with newer garments.
Day 24: If you cohabitate with house mates, consider running your household errands together. This kind of carpooling can be fun and helps reduce the carbon footprint of your home.
Day 25: Swap out incandescent bulbs for an LED. LEDs run a little bit more expensive but it’s worth it in the long run. An incandescent bulb lasts for about 750 hours, but an LED can last up to 50,000, sometimes more. That alone saves way more money than the cost of the LED itself. LED bulbs also use only 10% of the power.
Day 26: If you’ve got CFLs in your house, they will eventually burn out. But don’t just throw them away! There is a small amount of mercury in each bulb. If we all simply threw them away, that could be a big problem for the environment! CFLs can be recycled at most hardware stores.
Day 27: Did you know that batteries can be recycled too? Batteries thrown in the trash can cause environmental issues just like CFLs, but there are tons of places that will accept them for recycling. Do a little bit of calling around to find out who can recycle batteries in your area.
Day 28: Air purifiers have their allure, especially in the height of allergy season. But did you know that house plants actually have a remarkable air cleaning capability? Plants are actually able to clear out a lot of indoor air particulate matter and reduce a few nasty chemicals. Consider picking up a few new houseplants and unplugging your air filter.
Day 29: Do you have Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, in your area? CSAs are great because not only do the fruits and vegetables get delivered right to your door, but you support local farms. Local food also has a much smaller carbon footprint.
Day 30: Have an all-day outside day. Shut off and unplug all your electronic devices at home and get outside for a bike ride, a hike, a nature walk, or any favorite outdoor activity!