EARTH DAY: WHAT WE CAN DO
Updated: Apr 21, 2019
Happy Earth Day, everyone! Like most *ahem* sane people these days, I'm worried about the health of our planet. Poor Mother Earth has been putting up with humanity's bullsh*t for far too long (and how sad that, compared to how old she is, we've been here for about 2 seconds), and she's getting tired of it. So are other animals. And fish. And insects (bee post coming soon). Really, everything that isn't human, is tired of us. And I must say, I don't blame them one bit.
Thinking back, I've noticed a difference in weather patterns since my childhood, particularly winters. Growing up in Northern Ontario (basically the North Pole, let's be real), I was used to tons of snow and extremely cold temperatures. For example, here's a few weather events that really stand out in my memory:
○ in third grade, the principal preemptively cancelled school for the following day because it was going to be -52 degrees (celsius, of course)
○ multiple years of trick-or-treating in snow storms, and most years having to wear a snow suit under your Halloween costume
○ 2013: a huge snowstorm on Mother's Day
○ 2012: a HUGE forest fire (Timmins 9) ravaged the forest just south of our town for five months (it didn't necessarily rage for the whole 5 months, but from when it started to when MNR declared it out was a total of 5 months; maybe not related to climate change, but definitely worth noting)
Compared to some of these memories, weather patterns have changed even since my childhood (and I'm not bragging about my age here, it is rather alarming that I've noticed this in less than a 1/4 century on this planet).
Now, I can't speak for my home town (which is 8 hours north of Toronto) because I don't live there anymore, but I do live 4 hours south of it (still 3.5 hours north of Toronto). And although winter here was pretty terrible (particularly because we live next to a big lake and the wind could probably literally kill you maybe), it still barely reached the frigid temperatures I remember from childhood, and definitely not at the frequency that it used to. We did have a few days where the wind chill dropped to around -40 (and, yes, that is of course when our furnace died haha!!) in December, but by the second week of January, it was mild and the snow was melting. Yes, we have had multiple dips in temperature and 2-4 snow storms since (one of the worst ones this month, particularly in Southern Ontario), but when I was growing up, melting in January would have never happened.
Now, I'm not here to debate with anyone about the "legit-ness" of climate change. It is real. It is happening. And we need to act now before it's too late and we have to move to Mars. I can't handle that, y'all. I get anxious and claustrophobic thinking about being on a space ship (air planes are hard enough and I even get nervous in small glass showers for Pete's sake).
Yes, we have come quite a ways in the nearly 50 years since the first Earth Day in 1970; however, the issues we are facing now are (albeit, different) still scary. Very scary.
This year, Earth Day's conversation is largely focused on one of our biggest issues: plastic. It's everywhere. In our houses, our yards, our landfills, our oceans, our lakes, our seafood, inside the bellies of animals and sea creatures, you name it. If we don't do something soon, there will literally be more plastic in the ocean than there is fish. Excuse me??? Yeah, you read that right (unfortunately).
Rather than giving you my unqualified opinion or regurgitating information from credible sources, I decided to make this article simple: a collection of easy tips we can all (try to) follow, products to invest in, and articles & videos from credible sources about Earth Day and climate change.
Easy tips on how to be (slightly) more green:
→ Bring reusable bags when shopping (grocery and otherwise!)
→ If you accidentally forgot your green bag/box when getting groceries, reuse the plastic bags for other things around the house, such as: picking up dog poop in the yard (if you have a dog...please don't go looking for dog poop just to use the bags up...), using them as garbage bags for small garbage cans (I do this in our bathrooms), use as a "car garbage" (especially great for kids + road trips), or simply recycle them!
→ Invest in reusable produce bags to take when grocery shopping, or reuse the ones from the grocery store if you need to (just don't tie them up in a knot to avoid having to rip them open). When I was a kid, my dad always reused the tiny plastic produce bags and I never understood why; there's always gonna be tons of those bags at the store, dad! Now I realize it was just to be less wasteful.
→ Don't idle or remote start your car whenever you can avoid it (as someone that lives in Northern Ontario, I know that, sometimes, I don't have a choice and my vehicle needs to warm up, but try to do this sparingly if you can)
→ grow your own food! obviously this is largely dependent on where you live, if you rent or own your home (maybe you can't build a garden in a rental home), what you're able to grow in your climate, what you eat, and many other factors, but it is definitely worth looking into.
→ Composting! Composting is a great way to reduce food waste sent to landfills, and it's even better because the organic material produced can be used in your garden
→ Say no thank you to straws when you're at a restaurant. Simply drink from the glass, or bring a stainless steel (or other) reusable straw with you (if you're like me and don't trust the cleanliness of restaurant cups)
→ Say no thank you to plastic cutlery when you get take-out to have at home; just use your own cutlery
→ If you're like me and you're starting in on spring cleaning (more like purging), donate any unwanted items. Clothes and shoes, books, home furnishings, you name it. A lot can be donated to good homes.
→ Or, if you don't want to donate old furniture or nicer, unworn clothing, there are plenty of apps you can use to sell these items on. Still better than dumping it all in a landfill. See: Depop, Carousel, Kijiji, even your town's Facebook buy-and-sell page (this may just be a small-town, Northern Ontario thing, I dunno)
→ Books! As someone who would rather hold a hardcopy of a book, and even, dare I say, mark up the pages (GASP), it's hard for me to get on-board with e-books. However, ebooks, audiobooks, and even podcasts are saving trees, folks (I know it does take up energy to charge our devices to listen to them, so I'm sorry). Yes, Baby Boomers and older generations may make a big deal about 'kids these days' ruining books and newspapers with technology, but really, we just wanna save the trees! We need them to like, breathe, and stuff!
Larger ways to become more green:
(these are bigger than reusable grocery bags and may not be for everyone; I'm certainly not at this level yet)
→ invest in an eco-friendly vehicle. The auto industry has come a long way since the first Prius was launched (and purchased by Brian Griffin) in 1997. There are now hybrid and eco-friendly vehicles available in every shape and size, so you don't have to worry about fitting your huge family into a little Prius.
→ install solar panels. I know little to nothing about how to do this to a home, so if you're interested, I'll let you look into that (or, better, contact an expert) on your own
Products that can help you be slightly more green:
*see the Buzzfeed articles linked below for even more; I included some I really support
→ Stainless steel straws (apparently Bulk Barn carries some in a larger quantity for a similar price)
→ Reusable grocery bags (available for purchase at all grocery stores/WalMarts/etc)
○ Etsy (sometimes it's nice to have uber cute grocery bags, ya feel?) → Reusable feminine hygiene products (watch Ingrid Nilsen's video where she discusses some of these products, and check out her channel for other period-positive talk)
→ Reusable K-cups:
○ for Keurig 1.0 (claims they work with 2.0 but I had issues with them and I read some reviews that had the same issue, so I bought ...
○ for Keurig 2.0 (if you have a Keurig 2.0 version brewer, I'd suggest these, as the smaller ones tend to be "unreadable" by the brewer)
→ Reusable basket-style coffee filters (if you aren't on the Keurig train)
→ Loose-leaf tea infuser (also available in-store at places like David's Tea, Stokes and other specialty kitchen stores, and probably WalMart etc.)
→ Cloth diapers (similar to reusable pads, these might be most-ideal for days spent at home, in case of *ahem* bathroom/laundry emergencies)
→ 7 things we've learned about Earth since the last Earth Day (very interesting and eye-
opening; a must-read) → Earth Day 2018: Google Gets the Ball Rolling with Jane Goodall Doodle (with adorable video)
Websites to explore:
Info. on hybrid/eco-friendly vehicles