Every year, April 22 commemorates Earth Day — a day meant to raise awareness about our planet. First originated in 1970, the day served to commemorate the growing interest in the environment at the time. The idea came from US Senator Gaylord Nelson, who, worried by the rapid rate of industrialisation, was inspired by the student anti-war movement and decided to merge that passion with matters of the environment.
Almost 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day, and today, it is marked by more than a billion people in more than 193 countries, according to the Earth Day Network. But caring for the environment should not be limited to a single day. Here are some ways you can make a difference to make everyday seem like Earth Day:
1. Education empowers all
With this year’s Earth Day theme being Environmental and Climate Literacy, the need of the hour is education and awareness. People must be empowered with the knowledge and motivation needed to protect the environment. A simple way to gather attention is to spread the word by talking about it on social media.
2. Drive less, walk more
Driving less is one of the best ways to reduce pollution and conserve energy. The use of public transport and carpooling are the easiest ways to do so. If you can walk instead of drive, that’s even better. Owning a fuel-efficient car is another step in the right direction.
3. Go vegetarian, go green
Raising animals for food impacts climate change, waste of water resources and greenhouse gas emissions. Your diet directly impacts the environment, and decreasing your meat intake can go a long way for environmental benefits. However, if you’re a meat-lover, consider going vegetarian a few times a week.
4. Say no to plastic
Plastic is a huge no when it comes to the environment since it isn’t biodegradable and sticks around for thousands of years, posing a threat to the lives of animals and aquatic organisms. Using reusable cloth bags every time you go grocery shopping and avoiding plastic containers, bottles and other products are extremely helpful steps.
5. Recycle. Reduce. Reuse.
The 3 R’s are one of the most effective ways to reduce resource consumption. It’s simple: reduce what you don’t need, reuse what you need and recycle what you can. Separating recyclables from the trash is one small step that will make a huge difference.
6. Get rid of Energy Vampires
Most people leave appliances plugged in, even when they are switched off, known as ‘energy vampires’. These include appliances like hair-dryers, PCs, printers and mobile chargers, which suck up a lot of energy. Turning these appliances off when not in use is the best way to slay these energy vampires.
7. Use the internet for everything
The internet has become a vast space with endless possibilities, and we must take advantage of this. Pay your bills online. Don’t print unless you absolutely have to. Use e-mails and turn in assignments online instead. Make sure to unsubscribe from direct mailing lists, which can be a huge source of junk mail.
8. Using natural skincare products
Go for simple beauty products, and make sure ‘natural’ is really natural. Opt for non-toxic, recyclable products, which do not cause harm to the environment. Adopting a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise, water and the right diet, as well as home-made skincare treatments can pay off too.
9. Regulate your usage of electronics and appliances
Turn off the lights if leave a room for more than five minutes. Dim lights and use natural sunlight when you can, and renewable energy sources, if feasible. Energy-saving bulbs like CFLs can go a long way in ensuring lower energy usage. Adjust your appliances to make sure they consume the least amount of energy possible. Fix leaking taps as soon as possible, and never leave water running.
10. Be a minimalist
Another effective way of conserving energy is to adopt a minimalistic lifestyle. Buy and use less. Donate old clothes and shoes that are not in use, and don’t replace them. Buy long-lasting products of good quality that need not be replaced quickly. Becoming minimalistic in terms of what you eat, wear, do and where you live reduces overconsumption, and thus energy consumption.
— Sanya Lulla is an intern at Gulf News.