In grade school, Earth Day was my favourite day of the year. I built bird houses in schoolyards, stencilled fish symbols by storm drains, and planted trees in mountains. I felt empowered and purposeful and believed that my generation really could save the planet.
Back then, I didn’t know the planet needing saving from us humans. I had never heard of global warming or ocean acidification or mass species extinction. I just knew there was work to be done and I wanted to help.
Years later, I still want to help, and I know you do too. You wouldn’t be here otherwise, now would you?
So how can we help the planet this Earth Day? There are honestly endless ways. From big gestures to small changes, every bit of effort counts. Here are ten eco-friendly ideas to spark some inspiration.
1. Take a break from technology
Technology is such an ingrained part of our lives that is now nearly impossible to totally unplug. Just do what you can in this regard. I’m planning to turn my phone off, take the day away from my computer, unplug necessary appliances, electronics, and chargers, and keep the lights off all day.
2. Reconnect with the earth
Spending time outdoors and in nature on Earth Day helps us remember what we’re fighting for. Make some time to reconnect with the earth in whatever way suit you. For some, this will mean walking to walk. For others, it could mean having lunch in the park or taking a bike ride or hike in the evening. For others, like myself, it will mean earthing in my backyard, doing some outdoor yoga, and hopefully hiking into the trail in my neighbourhood.
3. Plant perennial flowers, shrubs, or trees
Any excuse to plant more perennials works for me. I’m hoping the ground has warmed up enough to dig a spot for a tree, but we’ll see. If all else fails, it’s all the more reason to get some new houseplants. The point is to help re-wild our spaces and gain a greater connection to nature.
4. Host an eco-friendly swap
Since Earth Day 2019 falls on a Monday, most people will be in classes or offices. This provides a perfect opportunity to organize an eco-friendly swap. You can tell people to bring in unwanted kitchen items, clothes, books, toys, and electronics and swap with others for desired items. This kind of collective swapping of goods helps clean out our homes, repurpose products, and prevent things from ending up in landfills.
5. Organize a neighbourhood clean-up
You can put as much or as little effort into this as you like. You can let your neighbours know you’re hosting an Earth Day clean-up and will provide bags, gloves, and eco-friendly refreshments, or, you can simply take your family around the neighbourhood and collect trash and recyclables. It doesn’t matter which route you choose, just that you do your part to help keep the environment clean.
Need some ideas to get organized? Check out our tips for making the most of the Trash Bag Challenge.
6. Unsubscribe from junk mail and magazines
While I don’t have any magazine subscriptions, I will confess that unsubscribing from junk mail is still something on my to-do list. The reason why I haven’t done it yet is that I imagined it would be a time-sucking and painful activity whereby I somehow reach out to each ad vendor and remove my address from their list.
The good news is: Unsubscribing from junk mail in Canada is way less tedious than I assumed. You can actually unsubscribe with a simple note on or in your mail box.
These are the full details from Canada Post: “To stop getting unaddressed advertising, simply put a note on your mailbox stating that you do not wish to receive Canada Post Neighbourhood Mail™. Place the note in or on your mailbox, or on the inside lip of your community mailbox, group mailbox or postal box.”
7. Add some eco-friendly outdoor garden decor
This Earth Day, give your backyard or balcony and eco-friendly upgrade with a bee bath, birdhouse, or bug hotel. These simple items can add a nice touch of decor to your space while helping out local pollinators. If you’re crafty, you can use Earth Day to DIY some adorable options for yourself and your friends and family.
Even if you’re not super skilled in this area, doing it yourself is easier (and much cheaper) than you might think. A bee bath can be as simple as a water dish you refresh daily. A bug hotel can be made by cutting the ends off a plastic bottle and simply stuffing with twigs, leaves, pinecones, and bark.
8. DIY green cleaning products in reusable glass bottles
Making your own green cleaning products is fun, affordable, and only takes a few seconds. You can DIY most things with a simple mix of essential oils, salt or vinegar, and water. Here are a few green cleaning recipes to get you started this Earth Day:
- All-Natural Simple Surface Cleaner
- Streak-Free Window Cleaner
- DIY Eco-Friendly Linen Spray
- Zero Waste Citrus Vinegar Cleaner
9. Do a zero-waste challenge for the day
Going zero waste doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing, but this Earth Day, try your best to reduce as much waste as possible. This could mean cooking smaller portions at home, bringing your reusable bottle, mug, bag, utensils and container to work, and avoiding unnecessary purchases with lots of packaging.
10. Eat locally-grown and eco-friendly foods
Everyone’s nutritional needs and diet restrictions are unique to them so I won’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat on Earth Day. However, I will say that sticking with local or organic options is the best choice for the planet. Whether this means planning a menu around these items or supporting a local market for lunch is up to you.
Whether you do one thing from this idea list, all ten, or something entirely different to help the environment this Earth Day really doesn’t matter. The main point is to spend some time reflecting on your personal impact and how you can make your lifestyle more eco-friendly and sustainable in a way that makes sense in your situation. Oh yeah, and have some fun!