Happy Earth Day everyone! The one day a year that people all around the planet collectively accept their individual responsibilities to care for the world. The first Earth Day was celebrated in the US in the 1970s. The concept went global by the 1990s – it is now celebrated in at least 192 countries!
As former President Barack Obama once said, on this day “let us all marshal our best efforts toward building a safer, more stable, and more sustainable world.” Wise words, but I believe every day is Earth Day. Here are 4 easy ways you can help preserve your planet from the comforts of your own home.
1. Educate yourself in the Art of Recycling
One of the biggest issues when it comes to recycling is the lack of organizational knowledge. On JMU’s campus, each trash bin in the dining halls have a separate Recycle, Food, and Landfill section. However, I often see people stop and stare at the signs for many moments then proceed to put waste in the wrong sections.
Click this link for a more detailed understanding of how to divvy up your trash on campus.
It has recently come to my attention that many off campus housing units have stopped recycling entirely and have taken away all the recycling bins near the dumpsters. In that case, don’t freak! Continue collecting your recyclables and find time on one day of the week to drive 10 minutes to Harrisonburg’s Recycling Convenience Center. You can find the website and operating hours on their website.
2. Explore Upcycling
Upcycling is one of my favorite hobbies. It is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new, more exciting materials. My favorite example is turning old clothes into fun new items. Here! Take a look at all the beautiful things you could create. You might see something that inspires you to start upcycling.
3. Incorporate these into your Daily Routine
- When you go to the grocery store bring reusable bags. You can find them at most stores for a dollar or less. But if you’re boujee like me, go on Amazon and find them for around $15. Here’s a link if you can’t wait until the end of this article.
- You can also cut down on plastic waste at the grocery store by buying unpackaged foods. The easiest way to implement this is by buying your fruits and vegetables unpackaged. There’s a farmers market in downtown Harrisonburg on S Liberty St. I go to it most Saturday’s. Try something new and check it out! But don’t forget to bring your reusable bags.
4. Reduce & Reuse
Reduce waste by reusing water bottles and straws. Not the gross plastic straws you get at restaurants or the plastic bottles you buy in bulk at Walmart. Nice reusable water bottles – created from plastic that does not produce toxins in your water – and steel straws, which are quite cool in my opinion. The United Nations also urges people to use paper or bamboo straws, which sounds pretty cool as well, but I can’t vouch for those. You can take it one step further and take the PlanetOrPlastic Pledge with National Geographic. Challenge your friends to take it too! All it takes is a few clicks.
I like using reusable water bottles because you can personalize them. I met a girl this year who said she buys a new water bottle each calendar year and uses it as a sort of yearbook or time capsule. I thought that was the most brilliant idea and went out and bought a new one for myself this past January. Now every time I travel or get involved in school activities, I find a sticker and add it to the bottle. I’m excited to look back at it this come December and recall all the memories I make this year.
P.S. You could also just go on RedBubble and find cute stickers to decorate it instead.
One last thing.
I understand how hard it is to change your lifestyle, but by doing one or two of these things will unquestionably make a difference. Each of us has a role to play in ensuring that we do not pass a world beyond repair to the next generations. Enjoy the rest of your Earth Day! Go to sleep thinking about how tomorrow you can help build a safer, more stable, and more sustainable world.