So you snoozed through Earth Day. That’s no big deal — you can still celebrate. In fact, the whole point of the event is to promote change that extends beyond the single day of campaigns.
We’ve got a few science-backed ideas to keep you celebrating Earth Day today, tomorrow, or whenever it suits you. And, who knows, maybe some of these choices will become a regular part of your life — and, come next April 22, you’ll be able to see how much progress you’ve made.
Go Vegetarian (For a Meal, or a Day … or Longer)
Swapping beef, pork and poultry for plant-based proteins can seriously dent the greenhouse gas emissions associated with your menu. That’s because growing those animals requires more energy than farming and consuming a crop. Plus, animal manure itself releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Comparisons of diets that replaced some or all traditional meat products with vegetarian options can see a drop in greenhouse gas emissions between 9 and 50 percent. The largest improvements happen when replacing all animal protein with a vegetarian choice, but even forgoing a burger can make a difference. Substituting beef alone can account for about 80 percent of that greenhouse gas emission drop.
Get Lazy With Your Lawn Care
Grass covers more land in the U.S. than any irrigated crop. That’s a lot of space dedicated to a plant that doesn’t support native wildlife and often needs fertilizer — which runs off into water and can kick off harmful algae blooms. Instead of investing the water and chemicals needed to keep your lawn in perfect condition, maybe relax your standards a little. Mowing once every two weeks instead of weekly might make your yard a more suitable habitat for bees, for example.
Better yet — replace some of your grass with plants native to your region. Wildlife and insects that live around you often have particular foliage they like best, and planting their favorites can provide a place for them to rest or eat in your neighborhood. If you’re not sure what would do well in your region, the National Wildlife Federation has a handy plant database for you to search.
Cut Back on At-Home Energy Use
Residential power use accounts for just over 20 percent of all energy consumption in the U.S. That’s not as much as the industrial sector uses (it takes 32 percent of the pie), but there are steps you can take right now to reduce how much power your household uses.
If you still think LED lights are too blue and harsh for your kitchen or reading lamp, know that the technology has improved in recent years. There are options that provide the same soft glow you already have at home — but use at least 75 percent less energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Be sure to look for the blue and white Energy Star stamp of approval to select versions with the best power efficiency.
It’s also possible in some states to switch to a renewable power source. The American Coalition of Competitive Energy Suppliers provides some preliminary information on which states allow what kind of options. This might be a longer project than swapping out a few bulbs — you might have to vet supplier candidates and confirm that they do, in fact, offer green power for the same or for a lower price — but can be a worthwhile endeavor for someone committed to a home that’s not powered by fossil fuels.
Check Your Local Candidates’ Platforms
There’s an election coming up in a few months — do you know what kind of climate and environmental action your potential representatives stand for? Now could be a great time to figure out who is running and what their platforms say about the environmental issues that matter most to you.
And if you don’t see any climate action on their agenda, reach out. After all, the candidates are trying to win over voters. Let them know what you’d like to see them accomplish.