Eco-friendly minds have been sharing tips on celebrating Earth Day for as long as the holiday has existed (since 1970, in case you were wondering). Most of that advice has revolved around buying green and reusing products as often as possible before bidding them adieu to the landfill.
But as we come out of the pandemic, many of us have developed new habits that aren’t exactly planet-conscious, such as ordering in meals and shopping online, both of which use excessive amounts of packaging. Here’s how to get back on the green path as we emerge from our covid cocoons.
1. Eat out or make your own meals.
Many small businesses struggled to stay open during the pandemic, so help them out by enjoying a meal at a local restaurant that uses reusable plates and utensils (as opposed to the disposable kind). If you’re itching to get outside, hit the farmers market (don’t forget your reusable tote bag) for some fresh air and fresh fare, then whip up a healthful home-cooked dinner. Both options use far less packaging than ordering meal delivery.
2. Ditch the single-use items.
At the onset of the pandemic, fear of contamination from surfaces caused the use of items such as plastic utensils and shopping bags to skyrocket. But studies have shown that the risk of infection through such contact is relatively low, and disposable products aren’t much safer than reusable ones. Since most disposable products are made of plastic, their use contributes directly to climate change. So when you have the option, choose reusable, and remember to tell your food deliverer to skip the plastic utensils.
3. Get out of the house and shop.
As delightful as it is to get packages delivered to your home on a regular basis, you’ll do yourself and the planet a favor if you shop in person, which uses less packaging and creates fewer emissions than I-need-it-tomorrow online purchases. If online is your only option for a particular product, see if you can combine orders so that all items come in a single package, and don’t choose the fastest delivery method, as one- and two-day shipping causes companies to send out delivery trucks only partially full. Amazon Prime members can now choose an Amazon Day, which schedules all items to be delivered on a day of their choosing, thus reducing waste and providing a predictable schedule of when your packages will arrive each week.
4. Turn off the TV.
Although televisions use far less electricity than many other household appliances, they still suck up some juice and emit carbon. Rather than binging Breaking Bad for a third time, dust off all those books you’ve been meaning to get around to. It’s good for the soul — and the planet.
5. Kondo your condo.
Since many of us are still spending more time at home, take the advice of organizer extraordinaire Marie Kondo and declutter your abode. You might discover items you’d forgotten about but that are still usable, thereby preventing you from making an unnecessary purchase. For the items you don’t need, sell them online, give them away on Freecycle or to a charity (animal rescues will take stained blankets and pillows), and properly dispose of electronics, paint, and other products that shouldn’t go to landfills.