In recent years, our planet has received a whole lot of hate. Even with all of the scientific research that tells us we are in the middle of a climate crisis, giant corporations continue to drill for air-polluting fossil fuels, mills continue to dump toxic chemicals into sources of drinking water, and the meat industry continues to factory farm.
Well, Saturday is Earth Day, and I think we need to show this green planet some love. So this Earth Day, I’m going to:
1. Eat a vegetarian meal.
As I’ve mentioned before, research shows that reducing meat consumption can help lower greenhouse gas emissions. I’ve been sticking to my “part-time vegetarian” diet, and I’m not going to stop anytime soon!
When organic materials (like garden trimmings and food waste) end up in landfills, they create loads of methane, which is a greenhouse gas that is often considered a bigger culprit than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming. One way to keep organic matter out of landfills is to compost. Composting is a process that takes food waste and other organic material and converts it into a rich soil that can be literally given back to the Earth. A few weeks ago, I signed up for a zero emissions composting service in Chicago called WasteNot. They provide you with a (lidded) bucket for your organic materials. You fill up the bucket with food scraps, pieces of your greasy pizza box, etc., and it gets picked up every week or every other week (depending on which payment plan you opt for). Ever since I’ve had the bucket, I’ve really paid attention to how many organic materials I toss into the landfill, from the paper towels I use to clean a dirty table to the trimmings off of the bok choy I cooked for dinner. Thinking about how much organic material I’ve thrown away over the course of my life scares and shames me because I know how much all of that has contributed to the current state of our planet. I hope composting will be a free (or government-supported), nationwide service one day. For now, I’m happy to pay for the services myself and return some nutrients to the earth!
3. Bring my own takeout container.
Sometimes I just don’t want to cook. But takeout can get really wasteful. Not only are you given loads of plastic utensils, your food also comes in a plastic or cardboard container that often isn’t recyclable or compostable (many cardboard food containers aren’t compostable because they have a thin coating of plastic on the interior, and most recycling facilities don’t accept number 6 plastic, which is what styrofoam takeout containers are made of). So I’m trying to bring a small glass container with me whenever I go out to eat. If I have leftovers, I don’t need to ask for a takeout box. I can just pack it in my reusable container and feel good that I haven’t added more plastic to the landfills.
4. Participate in local efforts to clean up the environment.
On Saturday afternoon, I’ll be joining the Chicago chapter of the Sierra Club for one of their annual beach clean ups. I’m excited to help clear away debris from the shoreline, because the less manmade debris that lands in the ocean, the healthier the marine ecosystem will be.
5. Shop smarter.
Nowadays, manufacturing is concerned with quantity more than quality. The idea is that the cheaper an item is, the more people will buy it, and it doesn’t matter if that item falls apart and ends up in a landfill a few weeks later. This model is clearly not sustainable. One way to avoid contributing to this trend of quantity over quality is to buy less, and buy items that are built to last. Another way is to buy secondhand. Much of my furniture is vintage or secondhand. Much of my clothing is too. Buying secondhand saves items from entering the landfill, and, because the items being sold secondhand have clearly lasted long enough to be sold again, there is some assurance of quality over time.
(Pst, Buffalo Exchange, a consignment store that has chains all over the United States, is having a $1 sale on Earth Day! So head over to your local shop and buy some gently used, fashionable clothing. The proceeds will go to the Humane Society and you get to keep some pounds of clothing out of the trash.)
Your turn: let me know what you’re doing to show the Earth some love! 🙂 🌏
❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)
Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to write about any organizations or businesses that I have mentioned. This post expresses my honest opinions.