earth day 2013
by Ali Berman
Categories: Causes, Environment.

Earth Day may only happen once a year, but the planet needs TLC every single day. So why not make this holiday a little bit like new years eve. Choose a few simple eco resolutions that you want to make a part of your daily life. Every small change makes a difference for this troubled planet. And humans, with the biggest footprint of any species, can reduce pollution, gas emissions, protect species and so much more all by modifying their behavior.

So, here we have it. 5 things you can commit to doing today for the sake of the planet.

1. Follow the 5-Minute Rule

So many of the items we use each day are opened, eaten or used and thrown in the trash all in five minutes or less. Plastic cups, paper plates and napkins, plastic utensils, paper towels and plastic bags are just a few examples of single-use items that are created only to be discarded after being used once. Avoid them like the plague. Choose reusable bags, metal utensils, dish rags and reusable plates. We’re 7 billion strong on this planet. Together, we create a lot of trash. Let’s commit to stop using the worst offenders when it comes to making trash.

2. Bike, Walk, Skateboard and Take the Stairs

This one isn’t just good for the planet. It’s also great for your body. Instead of driving to the local store, especially now that the weather is gorgeous, commit to riding your bike or walking instead of hopping in the car. If you’re faced with the choice between an elevator and stairs, go for the stairs and work on your cardiovascular health as well as the health of the planet. Get out there and get active. It’s a win/win.

3. Reduce Your Consumption of Animal Products

Listen to the U.N. when they tell you that, “A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products. Animal products cause more damage than (producing) construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as (burning) fossil fuels.” That’s right. Animal agriculture is devastating to the planet. Factory farms are some of the worst offenders, but it extends beyond that industrialized system. Forests are cleared en masse to make room for cattle to graze. We need our forests. We need our ground water to be clean and we need fewer green house gases. All of that can be achieved by reducing our consumption of meat and dairy. It’s Monday. How about taking part in Meatless Mondays or US Vegweek?

4. Go Paperless

Still getting your bills in the mail? How about a ton of junk mail? Reduce the amount of paper that comes into your mailbox and increase the number of easy-to-find-again emails that come into your inbox. Most banks, electric companies, etc. will email you your bill instead of snail mailing it to you. And, if you’re getting tons of junk mail, it’s easy to call up the company and ask them to remove your name and address from their list. There are even services that will do it for you. That way, going into the future, you’re saving trees and fuel by having fewer things mailed to your home.

5. Pick Up Some Trash

Each day we walk or drive past countless pieces of trash on the ground. If it’s not in a trash can or recycling bin, it’s pollution and could very well end up in our forests and waterways. While you may not be the person who put it there, you can be the person who picks it up. Commit to picking up at least one piece of garbage a day and putting it in its proper place. If 7 billion people decided to pick up one piece of trash per day, we’d have a much cleaner planet.

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On this Earth Day, can you commit to any of these changes? Just one? All five? If you do all of these already (high five!), can you think of something you could be doing better for the planet and make that your resolution? No matter how good an environmentalist we are, there is always more we can do to help.

Personally, I’m going to commit to keeping Tupperware in my car, so that when I bring home a doggie bag from a restaurant, I can put the leftover foods into my own containers instead of asking the restaurant to put them in boxes that will be chucked out the next day. Those little things really add up.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at aliberman.com. In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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