Earth Day this year should carry a heavy sense of urgency. If drastic changes are not made to the way we consume the Earth’s resources, natural resource extraction is expected to increase 119 percent over the next 35 years, according to the Journal of Cleaner Production.
Between 1970 and 2019, our natural resource consumption has more than tripled, accounting for a 9 billion ton increase in fossil fuel usage, a 130 percent increase in metal ore use, and a five-fold increase in the extraction of minerals, according to the United Nations Global Resources Outlook. On top of this, a recent, widely publicized climate report indicates we only have 12 years to prevent climate change catastrophe on a global scale.
Bottom line, we owe Mother Nature our lives, but we don’t act like it. Our kids are the future, and we’re going to have to deal with the problems previous generations left behind, whether we like it or not.
We should make it our priority to preserve the world. Here are seven easy, free(ish) Earth Day ideas to help the planet this April 22.
1. Check Your Community Resources
Consider checking out local events surrounding the holiday, as many communities have Earth Day fairs every April.
These fairs usually offer free samples of locally grown and environmentally conscious food.
They also have environmentally friendly products for show, so you can make small lifestyle adjustments to lessen your carbon footprint.
Admission to these events is usually free, and they’re an excellent way to get siblings and parents involved. You can search for Earth Day events in your area on the Earth Day Network website.
Plus, you can use the day as an opportunity to look into other local environmental resources, such as composting facilities and agricultural co-ops in your area. The former is a free way to reuse food waste, and the latter is an affordable way to get farm fresh produce.
2. Join an Environmental Group
The best way to make a small, but meaningful, impact is to join a group. Not only does group participation produce results, but it can help with personal development and networking. Environmental groups have no admission fees — just opportunities for donating, which can also mean a tax deduction.
3. Drip, Drip, Drip
That leaky faucet repair that you’ve been putting off? Better head to the store ASAP. Not only are you paying more on your water bill, but those little drops of water can really add up. “Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Less than 1 percent of Earth’s freshwater is accessible for us to drink, and our supply is increasingly finite.
4. Plant a Few Trees
It’s simple and nostalgic. After saving the world from environmental degradation, you can show your kids the tree that started it all. That’s love. You can plant trees for free by going to the park and finding a seed, or else you can get little seed packets that cost a few cents.
If you live in an urban area, you probably already do car sharing in the form of Uber, but there are a bunch of other ways to save on your commute. Through carpooling, you can minimize the number of cars on the road and save money on gas, insurance, and car payments.
Some municipalities even provide federally funded carpool programs for those living in their district. If not, you can establish one through resources provided by the Department of Transportation.
You’ll make new friends and save money. What’s not to like?
6. Buy a Refillable Water Bottle
Bottled water wastes huge amounts of natural resources in the form of fossil fuel extraction (used in the production of plastic bottles), not to mention the compounded effect of carbon emissions from the transportation of the bottles. By buying a refillable water bottle, you can save both your money and your planet.
7. Shop Eco-Consciously
Looking to practice other environmentally friendly tasks this Earth Day? Here are some more cheap Earth Day ideas to do your part in protecting the planet.
Buy a Metal Straw
Metal straws have become more popular in recent years as a way to reduce your carbon footprint and consume less plastic.
Snag a Tote Bag
The staple of food co-ops and NPR listeners everywhere. Using a tote bag for grocery shopping, or carrying around your stuff, is a fashion-forward way to use less pesky plastic bags.
Your Very Own Coffee Cup
While this suggestion is geared more toward the caffeine-dependent among us, an inexpensive, reusable cup will set you back anywhere from $10 to $15 on Amazon. Pair that with how often you drink coffee or tea (daily, and sometimes twice daily), and you’ll save a lot of paper and Styrofoam.
The next time you need some new duds, consider going thrifting rather than to a big-box store. Fast-fashion textiles contributed to over 10,000 tons in landfill waste in recent years, according to the EPA. Plus, buying vintage clothes will give you a classic, never-going-out-of-style look. Win-win.