Text "Earth Day" in circle of green leaves

While you may not have anything planned for Earth Day this April, it’s the perfect opportunity to stop and think about how your own choices and behaviour impact on the environment. Evening taking one small step towards reducing plastic use will be a step in the right direction. Here are 10 simple steps we can all take to be greener this Earth Day, and every day.

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What is Earth Day?

The first Earth Day was held in 1970 and is now held annually on 22 April. EARTHDAY.ORG™ is the organisation responsible for organising this annual event, with it’s mission to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.

Some of the most important Earth Day projects include:

  • ending the use of plastics for the sake of humans and the environment, including harmful microplastics;
  • climate education and environmental literacy for students;
  • planting trees for the Canopy Project, which aims to reforest areas most in need of rehabilitation;
  • promoting sustainable fashion; and
  • encouraging clean-ups around the globe for a waste free world.
Green leafed seeding planted in earth with text "10 simple green ideas for Earth Day"

Ways To Participate

Making changes to benefit the environment is not an all or nothing exercise. You don’t have to be a committed environmentalist to contribute to change. Even the smallest steps you can take to reduce our negative impact on the environment and our planet can make a difference. From switching from disposable to reusable items. swapping plastic packaging to paper, or supporting businesses with greener practices, every small thing can help. Earth Day is the perfect time to consider our own impact and commit to making even a small change to what we do. Not just on Earth Day, but every day.

BYO Coffee Cup

Do you buy takeaway coffee? Many takeaway coffees come in plastic lined cups or have plastic non-spill lids that are not recyclable. Billions of these cups end up in landfill or are discarded as waste every year. Even if your local coffee shop uses recyclable cups, there is an environmental cost in manufacturing these.

Earth Day is a great time to change your coffee habits and invest in a reusable coffee cup. There are lots of varieties to choose from, from BPA free reusable cups to insulated cups made from stainless steel, glass and ceramic Biome has a great range of reusable coffee cups to choose from.

Keep Cup reusable glass cup with cork band from Biome
Keep Cup is a popular reusable cup for coffee (Image: Biome)

And while you are at it, don’t forget to add a reusable spoon to take with you. I am lucky enough to live in a city that has banned single use plastic spoons and only offers wooden ones, but that is not the case everywhere. It’s easy to get in the habit of carrying a spoon with your new coffee cup.

Try a New Plastic Free Option

Earth Day is the perfect day to commit to switching something plastic in your home for a more sustainable alternative. Even if you only choose one of your usual products to switch out, it will make a difference. Here are some easy ideas to consider:

  • Say no to plastic bags at the shops. Bring your own reusable shopping bags from home, or grab a cardboard box or paper bag instead. That includes small bags for your fruit and vegetables. Go without a bag or invest in some drawstring mesh produce bags instead.
  • Do you use parchment paper for cooking and baking? Make the switch to a 100% compostable parchment paper instead.
  • If you normally reach for plastic cling film to wrap your partly used fruit, there’s a better way. Reusable silicone food huggers are perfect for that half a lemon or tomato. and are easy to wash and use over and over again.
  • Q Tips (cotton tips) are handy, but often have plastic stems. Look for more eco-friendly options made with cardboard or bamboo that can be recycled.
  • Switch from plastic to more eco-friendly alternatives to plastic laundry pegs or clothes pins for hanging out your washing.
Packets of cotton tips made with cotton and renewable sugarcane instead of plastic

These are just a handful of many ways you can cut down on single use plastics and switch to reusable products at home.

Rethink your commute

This idea won’t be for everyone, but have you thought about whether you need to take the car to work or school? Earth Day is a great time to give some thought to whether there might be better options. Whether it’s walking, cycling or public transport. Or is there someone who lives near you that you could share the ride with? Reducing reliance on fuel and saving money at the same time could be a win win.

Even if it isn’t practical to change your work commute, what about closer to home? If you are just popping to the local shops for something, why not walk instead of drive? You’ll get the health benefits of walking too.

Research Recycling Near You

We are lucky enough to live in a local council area that supplies fortnightly recycling and fortnightly green waste bin collection. This makes it much easier to divert recyclables and green waste from landfill. But there are also lots of things that can’t be collected by our rubbish service. This is where some research comes in.

Our local rubbish dump is a collection point for used paint recycling, so we can drop off those pesky end of cans or paint that is past its best. They also have a section for used electronics to ensure that the metal components get recycled and reused in new products. The local supermarket provides a drop box for battery recycling, keeping batteries out of landfill and enabling reuse of the components. We also have local drop off points for clothing donations, where clothes in good condition are sold at thrift stores and those that are worse for wear get turned into cleaning rags instead.

Why not spend a few minutes this Earth Day finding out about your local recycling services and setting up some systems at home to collect recyclables. It could be as simple as placing a tub or bag in your garage to collect items until you have enough to drop off at a collection point.

Learn More about Microplastics

You’ve probably heard of microplastics, the extremely small pieces of plastic that end up in our environment from the breakdown of plastics from industry and consumer products. But do you know what products they come from? You might be surprised to know that many of the products you use every day contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in our waterways and ocean. While steps have been taken to ban microplastic beads in cosmetics in some parts of the world like the US, the microplastic problem is much, much bigger.

For example, did you know that washing clothing made from synthetic materials contributes to 35% of the microplastics in our oceans? You can read more about the clothing industry and the need for sustainable fashion at the Fashion For The Earth campaign.

Take the time this Earth Day to learn about the significance of microplastics in our drinking water and the changes we need to make.

Plant A Tree

This idea probably seems like an obvious Earth Day suggestion, but the need to ensure we maintain the Earth’s green canopy has never been more important. While bigger projects focus on deforestation and erosion, planting more greenery is important no matter where you live. Urban infill and larger homes on smaller blocks means our cities are losing much of the tree cover enjoyed by previous generations.

So yes it is a stereotypical “green” activity, but please plant a tree if you can. If you have space in your own backyard, go ahead and plant something beautiful. Talk to your local nursery about a tree that will suit your space. Even better, plant a tree that is native to your area to provide a natural habitat for birds and wildlife.

Renting or don’t have space to plant at home? You might be able to plant a smaller tree in a pot or container. Or volunteer for a local tree planting charity and help plant trees in public spaces instead through an organisation like Trees For Life in Australia. Or consider a donation to tree planting projects through One Tree Planted.

More Small Steps to Being Greener

Earth Day provides a great opportunity to think about our impact on the environment and things we can do to cut down on plastic use. By making even one small change today, and making it a habit, you’ll be helping not just on Earth Day but every day.

For more ideas on small ways you can be kinder to the Earth, we’d love you to subscribe.

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