Little things to help the earth

April 22 is Earth Day, a day where many people commit to making the Earth a better place by volunteering for different events or doing little things around their home to decrease their carbon footprint. The problem with this, however, is that Earth Day is only once a year and many people don't think about the little things they do during the rest of the year that leave a huge impact on our planet.

I have complied a list of 10 things that you could do to help decrease the negative impact on Earth, not just on Earth Day but for the entire year:

1) Buy local produce

The grocery store is obviously the most convenient place for people to get their food. You can find basically everything you're looking for, in one place, at a reasonable price, and there isn't a 'season' for shopping there. However, so many forms of waste come from grocery stores that we don't even think about. From the plastic bags you receive at the registers, to the various forms of packaging the food is in, many people, myself included, don't even think about the impact all those wastes are making, mainly because it is convenient for me. An easy solution to combat this problem is shopping local farmers markets! In Colorado Springs, there are various markets to attend. Not only will this help with reducing wastes, supporting your local merchants is a great plus!

2) Switch to fluorescent bulbs

Fluorescent bulbs are a bit more expensive than your average bulb. At Lowes, a LED bulb can range in price from $2 to $40+ while you can get a regular bulb for as low as $1. Now, depending on the bulb you're looking to purchase, prices of course vary, but LED bulbs 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and the estimated cost in use of electricity when comparing the bulbs is around $30 for LED lights and over $200 for incandescent lights. In the long run, even if the initial price is higher, you're doing your wallet and the earth a favor in the future.

3) Go meatless

When thinking about ways to reduce waste, what you eat doesn't necessarily come to mind. One argument about reducing the amount of meat consumption in order to help the planet, however, is using the sun's energy more efficiently. Going meatless at least once week can help save resources like fresh water and reduce fossil fuels, according to Grace Communications Foundation. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization also estimates that nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse-gas emissions in the atmosphere comes from the meat industry. One day a week without meat can be a simple task if you prepare for it, as there a thousands of meatless recipes you can find online.

4) Change your billing statements to online

One really simple thing you can do is to switch all your billing statements to online, rather than receiving a paper statement in the mail! Not only does it de-clutter for you, you're saving paper!

5) Turn the faucet off

Many people still let the faucet run while they're brushing their teeth. This is such a simple way to save water and cut your utility bill, turn it off! If you feel like doing more, turn off the shower in between shampooing your hair and rinsing it, or purchase a little tub to fill with water to hand wash your dishes rather than having the sink run continuously.

6) Recycle old electronics

Electronics were created with the mindset to withstand decomposition. The glass with certain ones can take over 1 million years to decompose! Rather than just throwing it away for it to waste away in a landfill, take it to a place to be recycled! I know that Best Buy has bins in their entryway to collect recyclable items.

7) Add plants to your home

Not only do plants make you home a more comfortable place, they actually improve air quality which can cause a reduction in the need of air filtration and less heating and cooling! Aloe Vera, Spider plants, and golden pothos are just a few examples!

8) Make backyard creature friendly

My family is one that absolutely loves seeing nature in our backyard, from birds to bunnies. Not to mention, my cats love them too. Wild animals, just like any other creature, needs a place to call home. Help them out by making your backyard animal friendly! From something as simple as cleaning the trash off of your lawn, to installing a bird feeder or house, it all helps! My mom has a hummingbird feeder that she loves to hang out.

9) Complete a 30 day zero waste challenge

This challenge is definitely for those determined to take a decently drastic step. There are many different types of "cutting out plastic" challenges on the internet. This is just one of them!

10) Make your own cleaning products

Cleaning products can get quite pricey. Not even just the cleaners themselves, but also things such as paper towels, wipes, etc. Many cleaners also have many toxins in them that we aren't even aware of. There are many recipes out on the internet that tell you how to make your own cleaners, some as simple as just using water and vinegar! You can also cut costs and carbon footprints by cutting up old articles of cloth and using them as rags rather than going through copious amounts of paper towel!

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