Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22, and during this day events are held around the world to show support for environmental protection. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, after the disastrous 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. It is now celebrated in more than 193 countries by more than a billion people every year.
Earth Day aims to raise public awareness about the environment and encourage people around the world to make earth-friendly changes to their behavior. Here are five small changes you can make to help our environment and reduce your ecological footprint!
1) Know your footprint
Our ecological footprints reflect the amount of natural resources we consume through our daily habits and activities. Overall, humans are consuming natural resources at an alarming rate. For the past couple of decades we have consumed more resources annually than the Earth can replenish. Today humans consume the equivalent of 1.5 planets’ worth of resources every year and, unless something changes, we are expected to consume 2 planets’ worth of resources by 2050! If we don’t act now to reduce this unsustainable behavior, we threaten the living conditions of future generations.
The first step to reducing your resource consumption is knowing how much you are currently using. Take a quiz online to find out how big your ecological footprint is.
2) Eat less meat
The meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Producing one calorie of meat requires almost 20 times the amount of energy as one plant calorie! It also requires a huge amount of water: An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef.
You can reduce your own ecological footprint just by changing your diet and eating less meat! It doesn’t mean you need to go vegetarian or vegan overnight, but try adopting small changes like Meatless Mondays to gradually cut back on your meat consumption.
Cutting back on meat can also save you money at the grocery store and improve your health! A plant-based diet, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients, while also lower in calories and fat. Switching to a plant-based diet can help you lose weight and lower your risk of heart disease.
Ready to get started? Kick off your first Meatless Monday with one of our awesome vegetarian recipes.
3) Cut back on car rides
Leave the car at home and walk or bike instead! Replacing car trips to school and work with walking or bicycling can reduce congestion and air-polluting emissions. Cars currently account for one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and they emit a variety of pollutants which are harmful to the community such as hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. The more people walk, the better the air quality will become.
Not only does walking or biking reduce air pollution, but it’s also great for your health! Regular physical activity helps build strong bones, muscles and joints, and it decreases the risk of obesity. In contrast, insufficient physical activity can contribute to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke. For weight management, studies suggest that you should aim for 10,000 steps a day.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Research suggests that physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults, underscoring the importance of developing the habit of regular physical activity early.
4) Start a compost pile
Composting is a great way to decrease your food waste, reduce your impact on landfills, and lower your overall carbon footprint. By composting kitchen scraps and yard trimmings, you can limit the amount of food you waste and help reduce your impact on landfills. In fact, if you compost regularly, you could reduce your waste by as much as 25%!
Want to learn more about composting? Read our helpful tips on how to start and maintain your own pile.
5) Grow something
Where your food comes from is important both for the planet and for your health. On average, produce travels 1,500 miles to get to your local supermarket. When you add up all the pollution created by the planes, trains, trucks, and ships transporting our food, it ends up having a significant impact on the environment. In 2005, the fruits, nuts, and vegetables imported by plane into California alone accounted for 70,000 tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere -- the equivalent of more than 12,000 cars on the road.
That's why this Earth Day, we encourage you to make local start at your home by starting your own veggie or herb garden. Not only will you cut down on those polluting food-miles, but growing your own food ensures that it is fresh and chemical-free. Finally, growing your own food is an amazing opportunity for you and your family to engage in a fun and educational activity that reconnects you with your food and the planet.