On the 22nd of April each year, we are reminded and encouraged to celebrate this wonderful planet that hosts, feeds and allows for life to flourish in unparalleled diversity.
Earth Day celebrations started as a grassroots movement in the 1970s as a way to raise awareness and public support against the damaging effects of oil spills, polluting factories, plastic waste, the mass extinction of wildlife and the rapid loss of wilderness.
What’s truly wonderful is that it created a platform on which regulatory laws were then set in place and organizations such as The Environmental Protection Agency created. This contributed to the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act and the Endangered Species Act, just to name of few. These are all protective environmental laws that did not exist before.
The idea for the actual Earth Day was first proposed by then Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who had witnessed the damage done by a 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California and whom with the help of other politically active supporters was able to rally over 20 million people all across US on 20th of April, 1970.
The people gathered together in public spaces and schools to protest, discuss and raise awareness for the need to protect the environment. Since then, the movement has garnered a worldwide momentum.
And you know what’s truly awesome?
You and me, we can celebrate Earth Day EVERY SINGLE DAY by doing these 2 simple things:
1. Spend time in nature:
Make a concerted effort, whether it is daily or weekly, to spend some time in nature. Choose, if it is available to you, a shaded and forested area that has the most green and lots of trees. It could be a park, a trail, a hike or a walk around a nearby lake.
There are lots of articles in health and science journals that scientifically address and prove the healing and restoring benefits of spending time in nature. And the more time spent, the better. Some of the key benefits are reducing stress, promoting relaxation, fresh air for our lungs and bodies and even supporting the process of healing from PTSD.
What I encourage you to do, at least once in a while, is to spend this time in nature WITHOUT any kind of electronics.
Does this sound scary? Are you thinking to yourself, “what will I do, what will I think about? won’t this be too boring? or a waste of my time if I could listen to a podcast, an audiobook or just some music to keep me occupied”?
The answers to these questions are precisely some of the reasons that I urge and encourage you to practice BEING in nature without the interference of devices.
Look at the trees, the plants and flowers scattered all around you.
Listen to the sounds of nature.
Let your thoughts come and go.
Allow yourself this time. Allow yourself to feel and be part of nature in a way that is present and observant.
Even though we live in sterilized, concrete environments, temperature controlled spaces and drive automated machines that get us where we need to go with minimal effort on our part (instead of walking or running) we ARE still very much part of nature and Earth, our home. We should celebrate that by spending time in our natural environment.
2. Consider each purchase through a long-term perspective
Since 2018, China has stopped buying our plastics, mixed paper and other materials. This caused a dramatic change in the recycling global market. Our local center, for example, just stopped recycling plastics altogether.
This change had three major consequences on a global scale:
*a significant reduction in revenue for the recycling businesses
*an increase in the costs of maintaining and operating the recycling plants and facilities
*lack of enough alternative markets to absorb and process the now surplus of materials that used to be recycled
So what can we do?
I have always been a staunch believer in addressing issues at their very core and finding solutions to problems from the roots up. And the plastic consumption/recycling situation is no different.
The answer, in my opinion, starts at home, with the purchases we make for our day to day living at the store/supermarket.
I am primarily considering things like food, cleaning supplies, soaps, shampoos, decor and furnishings.
For all of the items mentioned above I have learnt through the years to only buy the very minimum (what I primarily need versus what I want) and to consider each item not only for what it contains inside and its purpose in sustaining my life BUT for its packaging as well.
We are so used to see every single item packaged and prepped in some sort of plastic that we totally take for granted that the packaging is an item in itself that more often than not will end up being discarded. What I always ask myself is this:
What will I do with the packaging once I’ve used what’s inside? how will I discard it? will it go into the landfill? can I reuse it? and if so, how? can I re-purpose it perhaps?
And if it is a decor or a seasonal piece, will I still love and use it in a year, or 5 or 10? what will happen to it once I am bored with it? is it versatile and classic enough to stand the test of time? could someone else enjoy it, can I resale it once I no longer need it? and what would the cost of that, in terms of effort and time?
Do I really, really need it? or the money spend on it could be used in a more beneficial way, with a lesser impact on the environment? could I use something else instead, that I already have in my home? could I, instead, borrow that item if I only need it for one occasion?
Would I buy it if it wasn’t on sale, if I’d have to pay the full price for it? If a magazine/add/TV show/influencer/blogger/vlogger hadn’t told me that I need it in my life?
Given that SO, so many things come wrapped and packaged in plastic, it is almost impossible to completely live a plastic free life.
BUT, we can totally reduce the amount of plastic we bring into our lives and thus discard into landfills if we reduce the amount of things we purchase to begin with.
And that can only start by becoming more conscious consumers. And practice being ones every single day.
Not only it is better for the planet (you are showing your love and gratefulness for it in the best possible way), but you are also helping your wallet and your finances.
Remember that every small change that you make, every single day, in reducing the plastic consumption has a cumulative, growing impact.
YOU lead by example. In your home, at your workplace, in the public eye.
We often underestimate the impact each and everyone of us has in our small corners of the world.
If you care for our Earth, our home, no small gesture goes wasted.
So do the best that you can, with what your have, right where you are. And one great way to start is by simply reducing the amount of plastic we purchase and use.
Lots of love,
*Photo by Martin Damboldt from Pexels