*This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through these links will result in a small commission for myself, at no extra cost to you.
Earth Day is held on Friday 22nd April and was set up in 1970 to hold events worldwide to raise awareness of environmental matters.
Sadly, this is something that has only grown in urgency over the past 5 decades since Earth Day began.
Everyone knows now about climate change and the environmental impact of our industrialised, consumerist society, and many people want to make a difference. But it can often feel too overwhelming to know where to start. It can easily feel like our tiny efforts won’t make much of a difference – so why bother?
Well, whilst it is true that larger scale changes need to ultimately come from governments and large companies, it is also true that as consumers and individuals sharing this planet, we can and should do our bit wherever possible to contribute to the kind of Earth we all want to share and pass on to future generations.
This Earth Day, I’ve put below a few ideas on how you can start small and get involved, whatever your time constraints, background or budget!
Take Part In A Trash Cleanup
There is a page for an official Global Cleanup aimed at reducing plastic pollution and removing trash from rivers, beaches, neighbourhoods and so on. This helps to improve habitats, prevents harm to wildlife and humans – and let’s be honest, it makes the environments we live in every day look nicer! This is something the campaign is aiming to do every day of the year, not just for Earth Day, and is a great habit to get into.
If you don’t want to register to take part in the official Global Cleanup, you can just DIY your own! Simply by picking up litter on your way to work every morning, or doing a litter pick at your local beach or park at the weekend, you will make a small difference. If everybody did this every day, it would add up to a HUGE difference!
Sign Online Petitions
This is a low-commitment option, or ideal for anybody who is housebound.
There are many online petitions you can check out on earthday.org, including one to make the shift away from unsustainable fashion. (See more below).
As a further activity leading on from signing petitions and which takes just a little more effort, you could try writing to your local MP. By finding out the parliamentary representative for your area or district, you can send them an email to let them know what areas you are most concerned about. And don’t forget to vote in any upcoming elections, if you are eligible! Even smaller local elections are important, because our votes signal the issues we want dealing with.
As well as political representatives, you can also write emails directly to companies to question their practises and get information about how they are tackling these issues.
Consuming Less; Consuming Better
This might sound obvious, but it’s all very well taking part in clearing up trash and petitioning against unsustainable practices and fast fashion brands, but if we all continue to consume as we have been doing, the problem won’t get any better any time soon.
Western culture tends to represent success by the amount of things we own: by the designer handbag on our arm, the Rolex watch on our wrist or the size of house we live in, and so on.
We all want nice things in our homes and our lives. But sometimes it just takes a mindset switch to question why we are over-consuming and whether there is a better way of procuring an item of clothing or home furnishing that might be better for the planet and the people on it.
Sustainable fashion brands are all very well and are a bit of a buzz word at the moment. And if you can afford to shop at them, please do! But I am also aware that we don’t all have the money to spend at some of these brands, no matter how much we would like to.
As a mum, I know that trying to clothe and feed a family with ethically sourced items on a budget is practically impossible!
Although it isn’t ideal, my own course of action in sustainable shopping is 4-fold:
- Buy less in the first place, and when I do buy, try to either source second-hand or buy the best quality new item I can afford at the time, to ensure that it lasts longer.
- Either buy items locally and/or from smaller, independent retailers, where possible. I no longer have an Amazon account, for example, as I don’t want to contribute to that company.
- If I must buy the item from a fast-fashion retailer (basically most of the high street stores), try to buy from their more ethical ranges, in the hope that if more people do this, they might just take notice and increase their commitment to these practices.
- Once I have made a purchase, whether from a less than ideal company or not, try to make the piece last for as long as possible. For clothing, this includes only washing it when it is actually dirty, not after every wear.
Talk To Others
Signing petitions, writing to your MP and picking up litter alone is a great start. An even better one is to tell other people about it! This isn’t about high-fiving yourself on social media (though you can if you like), but about trying to positively influence others around you who might not know about Earth Day or ways they can get involved.
Whether it’s a dog walker who sees you picking litter, or forwarding a petition on to several friends on WhatsApp, if you are interested enough to take part, then others might also be!
Don’t ever stop learning! Knowledge is power, as they say, and this is definitely true now when there is so much knowledge out there that is easily accessible.
Just a quick Google search can reveal articles, scientific reports and organisations who are trying to make a difference. A search of your local library can yield a host of books on environmental issues and ways to make a difference.
Other tiny ways to make a difference…
Try going meatless for one meal a day, a day a week, a month…
Look at your recycling for a week and think about what items you could cut down on in order to reduce plastic waste…
Try walking to work, cycling, taking public transport or even car-sharing one day a week instead of using your car…
For more innovative ways to get involved this Earth Day and beyond, check out the official Earth Day website earthday.org
Do you have any other ideas for small ways to get involved? Let me know in the comments!
Happy Earth Day! : )
A couple of my favourite sustainable brands:
For more books on sustainability:
**Please buy responsibly! ; )**