I consider myself a hard core Earth lover. Many people love the earth, but don’t know where to begin to reduce waste, preserve resources, or avoid the use of toxic chemicals. If you find improving your environment to be too work intensive, here are 5 things you can do that include an additional motivation: fun! This Earth Day weekend, pick one that you don’t already do and try it for six months. It will bring you joy to have at least tried.
5 Super Fun Ways to Help the Earth
1. Stop using plastic wrap.
Using plastic wrap to store something for one day is often needless waste. You can usually store your food in a container (I especially like glass containers with plastic snap-lock tops). If you run out of those or it just doesn’t seem worth it to use an additional dish, silicone lids work well and are super pretty.
I have 2 in different sizes and they are easy to use, easy to wash, and take up very little room in the cupboard. Plus they brighten up your fridge with color!
2. Bring your own grocery bag to the store.
This is just an excuse to buy a beautiful tote! The key is to find one that you feel good using so that you are motivated to grab it before you go. Buy a simple canvas tote that you find appealing, or if you’re looking for something more practical, the insulated and other cube-shaped bags often sold at grocery stores work best because they lay flat but hold a lot of food when filled (and now come in many fun prints). Even if you just bring one large tote, you’ll reduce the number of bags you use by at least two. You will love not having to deal with as many plastic bags in storage or in your recycling container. Recycling is great, but it still uses resources and creates pollution to create plastic bags and recycle them.
3. Use recycled plastic or compostable trash bags.
In college, I once visited a landfill for an environmental studies class. Overwhelmingly, the waste that visually dominated the landfill was plastic bags. So I started using cloth bags at the grocery store to reduce the number of plastic bags that I use. I do like having a liner in my trash cans, but recently I switched to recycled plastic bags. They look prettier than the plastic grocery bags that I used to use, and I feel a little better about using them in the trash. Another option is using a compostable trash bag. Yes these are all still plastic and there is even some disagreement about whether compostable bags will actually compost in the landfill, but my philosophy is if there is a routine in your home that you can improve upon even if it is not perfect, then do it.
4. Use cloth napkins.
Again, this is an excuse to buy and use something pretty! Further good news is that you’ll never have to buy napkins again. Cloth napkins work better (you need only one, unlike paper napkins where it seems you need 5 per meal to get the job done), and they add decorative style to your table. They do add another load of laundry to your life so if you hate doing laundry this might not be for you. Hint: wash your cloth napkins and other kitchen linens with dish detergent (only a tiny bit!). It gets out the grease and helps them dry faster.
5. Use earth friendly, plant-based soap.
There’s no excuse to use harsh cleaners with synthetic dyes or fragrances (made by companies using unsustainable practices) anymore, because there are so many brands that produce biodegradable, natural soaps at varying price points. They smell delicious, are more gentle on your skin, are healthier for your body, and usually come in pretty packaging. Look for earth friendly cleaners for all areas of your home. But don’t buy something only because it’s labeled “natural.” Read further to determine why it’s better for the earth. Some key words to look for include biodegradable, and non-synthetic fragrances or dyes.
Remember Earth Day is a day to celebrate the importance of nature and to make a commitment to the sustainability of our planet. The most important thing a parent can do this weekend is to go outside with their kids in nature. Happy Earth Day!