Earth Day takes place every year on April 22nd, and has been in place since 1970. Today, it’s celebrated in just about every country on Earth, full of events, volunteering efforts, environmental lectures, and more.
In fact, it’s gotten so big and popular that many countries and communities around the world celebrate an Earth Week instead of just the single day.
Earth Day 2020 is the 50th anniversary of this global environmental holiday, so it’ll be no small affair.
However, just because there are official Earth Day events doesn’t mean you can’t do your own things.
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So, here are our best Earth Day tips for you to take environmental action on your own:
1. Avoid Plastic Disposables
A one-time use plastic grocery bag takes 10–20 years to break down, and a throwaway water bottle can take up to 450 years to decompose. Other plastics that are a bit stronger can take up to 1,000 years!
So, when you go to the gym or for a picnic in the park, fill up a permanent water bottle. When you head to the supermarket for groceries, bring your own bag. Skip straws in your beverages, and request no plastic utensils if you order from Uber Eats.
2. Volunteer to Clean Up
Volunteering to clean up is one of the simplest Earth Day tips, because you really don’t need to join any group effort or organization.
Head to your local park, the beach, alongside the roads, or just the city streets with some work gloves, a waste receptacle, and perhaps one of those pokey stick things to not have to bend down every 5 seconds. Even better, create an event for your buddies and classmates to help out; it’s always funner working with friends!
But of course, if you prefer, you can join a group cleanup effort, instead. Check Facebook and Google for groups in your area, and follow their pages to find the next location and date. Being part of a group cleanup event can be better, in some cases, as they might provide transportation and work materials, and especially perhaps that pokey stick thingy 🙂
3. Plant Trees
One of the best ways to help the Earth, whether on Earth Day or any of the other 364 days of the year, is to plant some trees. Planting trees is an easy way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and a great way to counter deforestation.
At Goodwall, we’ve teamed up with the Trillion Tree Campaign before, an effort to plant an additional one trillion trees globally. On their website, you can find various tree-planting projects around the world, such as Yucatán reforestation, coastal reforestation in Taiwan, and regenerating forests for Khasi communities. Also, you can view the per-tree cost and donate some money to help out your favorite projects.
4. Eat Local
Eating locally is a great way to support local farmers and small businesses in your community and region, among other economic benefits.
Eating locally grown food has plenty of environmental benefits, as well. “Food miles” is the term used to calculate how far food items travel from farm to table, and as you can imagine, the higher the food miles, the more fossil fuels are used up and air pollution created.
Also, sourcing your foods locally helps to keep your local farmlands as farmland by keeping the farms in business. Farms that go out of business tend to sell to commercial developers, and then it’s like Joni Mitchell says in her song “Big Yellow Taxi,” that “they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.”
5. Recycle What You Can
If you do happen to have a disposable plastic bottle or bag, then make sure you recycle it properly.
Same goes for paper materials. And glass. And metals. And batteries. And…
Recycling is one of the best Earth Day tips and ways to help the environment, and we’ve got a full guide on all the different materials to recycle. Check it out!
6. Don’t Drive Alone
Your parents might have wanted you to not drive alone in case you have an accident or get a flat tire. But the Earth wants you not to drive alone for other reasons.
When you drive your car by yourself, you are putting a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In fact, about one quarter of all energy related CO2 emissions in the world comes from transportation.
First, you can at least carpool, halving (or more) the CO2 emissions, since you’re sharing your car journey with others. But, you can do even better than that. If you have it available, take public transportation. Not only is this way less harmful for the environment, but you support the availability of public transportation in your community and help to keep the prices down.
Best of all, however, is to walk! Walking from Point A to Point B causes no environmental impact, of course. And, you get the added personal benefit of getting some great exercise while you’re at it!
7. Take Shorter Showers
The Earth, at first glance, seems to have unlimited water. And it’s true, in a sense, as more than 70% of the Earth’s surface is water.
Of all the big blue expanse you see on a globe or world map, 96.5% of that is salt water. Then, another 2.5% or so is inaccessible (e.g., in ice form, underground, too dirty). This means that only around 1% of all the Earth’s water is able to be used by us in any real sense.
To put that into perspective, Mexico makes up around 1% of the entire planet’s land surface area. So, reimagine a world map made up of just the countries as land and where Mexico is the only water, and you can understand better how much usable water we have.
8. Go Meat-Free
A vegetarian or vegan diet is much better for our environment than one which includes meat, believe it or not, and there are several reasons why this is so.
There are GHG emissions to consider, first of all. According to a European Parliament study, the average vegetarian person is responsible for half the greenhouse gas emissions that the average omnivorous eater is.
Then there’s the land requirements. Diets including meat, on average, require 2.5 times more space or acreage compared to a diet for vegetarians and vegans.
Also, the water requirements are pretty hefty for a meat-based diet. According to the Vegetarian Society, just 1 small 8 oz chicken breast requires more than 143 gallons (542 liters) of water to produce! It boggles the mind, but it also makes it easy to comprehend how going meat-free can help the environment.
9. Unplug Your Devices
One of our easiest Earth Day tips is to simply unplug your electronics when not in use. Devices left plugged in, even when turned off, still consume power, a negligible amount each day, but it adds up over the course of weeks and months.
The New York Times calculated the impact these dormant doohickeys have, and its pretty astounding: Americans alone add 44 million tons of CO2 just by leaving them plugged in.
So, if you’re not using your phone charger, unplug it. Do the same with your television, kitchen appliances, and your lamps. To make it easy, plug these items into a strip outlet or surge protector—you can plug and unplug several devices all in one go!
Also, based on a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report, a typical household in the United States spends an extra $165 each year due to plugged-in gadgets that aren’t in use. So, this Earth Day tip is also a good way to put (or keep) some money in your pocket!
10. Donate Your Money
You don’t have to change your habits or do physical labor to help the environment. If you have some spare change, why not donate some money to an environmental organization or green charity?
Here are few of the best environmental charities to donate to:
- Rainforest Foundation
- Coalition for Rainforest Nations
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Friends of the Earth
- Trust for Public Land
- Information Technology and Innovative Foundation
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Sierra Club Foundation
- Clean Air Task Force
- The Watershed Institute
- Climate Emergency Fund
- The Nature Conservancy
11. Donate Your Time
Don’t have much money to hand out to environmental charities?
If you have some spare time, consider donating that instead, as a volunteer or a part-time worker for an organization that helps. We talked already that you can volunteer cleaning up the roads, beaches, and parks.
You can volunteer some time at a community garden, helping to plant trees and nurture flowers that can be enjoyed by you friends, family, and neighbors. You could do the some volunteer work at a state or national park, as well, which may have a wider variety of activities, such as caring for the wildlife and protecting against forest fires.
Or, help out on a farm. If you live in a rural area, you probably have your pick of great farms nearby, and you can find an eco-conscious farm to donate your time to. In the city, urban farms are an increasingly popular trend, and many of these are already super conscious of the local environment. You can learn a lot while helping out a great cause.
Aside from these, consider working with an environmental advocacy organization in some way. You don’t even have to be located in the same city as their headquarters, as you can volunteer to host and organize local events, go door-to-door with a clipboard, or just work remotely for them in the ways they need the most.
A bonus: this experience will look AMAZING on your resume!
12. Donate Your Belongings
Instead of throwing away your old clothes, appliances, laptops, cell phones, and other items, consider donating them.
Many of the items you might discard may be perfectly usable to other people. Not only will you prevent (or at least delay) these items from adding to your local landfill’s ever-growing mountains of waste, but you also help out people and organizations in need.
Oh, and of course it doesn’t cost you anything to donate your belongings rather than throwing them away!
13. Join the Earth Day Network’s Campaigns
The Earth Day Network coordinates many of the events that happen for Earth Day and Earth Week around the world.
Show your support by joining some of their campaigns and projects:
- The Conservation and Biodiversity program
- The Canopy Project
- The Foodprints for the Future campaign
- The End Plastic Pollution campaign
- The Athletes for the Earth campaign
- The Artists for the Earth campaign
- Earth Challenge 2020
- The Global Teach-In campaign
14. Share Your Earth Day Tips on Goodwall
These Earth Day tips above are some of the best ways to help our planet, but we can’t do it alone. To be most effective, we need to get others to see why these environmental actions are important.
Whether you have ideas on how to reduce greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide emissions, stop deforestation, counter global warming, or reverse rising sea levels, Goodwall is a great place to share them.
Goodwall has almost 1.5 million members in 150+ countries, all students, young professionals, and entrepreneurs eager to help. In the Goodwall community, your Earth Day ideas are sure to get the visibility, traction, and support they deserve to become Earth Day solutions.
So, if you haven’t yet, come join us and share your ideas! Sign up at the top of this page, or download our Android or iOS apps to get started (links to app stores below this post).
15. Don’t Stop After Earth Day
Earth Day might be only one day a year, but these Earth Day tips are important to keep in mind each and every day.
You can’t (and shouldn’t try to) do all these environmental actions all in one day anyway. Rather, keep these ideas and work on them as often as possible, whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly.
Hopefully by the next Earth Day, we’ll see a difference!
Well, that’s all for our Earth Day tips, and we hope it helps and inspires you to take action for climate change and for our environment. Got any questions, feedback, or other tips for Earth Day to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!
Just one more thing:
If you’re looking for a college to attend or support taking climate action, don’t overlook the University Of Dundee!
The University of Dundee is one of the UK’s top 20 universities (The Guardian University Guide 2021) and is classed as top in the UK for climate action (Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2021). Their core purpose revolves around transforming lives and working locally and globally through the creation, sharing, and application of knowledge.