9 Ways To Protect The Planet While At Home Or At Work
April 22nd of every year is Earth Day. It is a great opportunity to participate and share your activities with friends and family in the preservation of our planet. While fighting climate change and accelerating conservation and sustainability is not a one-day task, there are habits we can start today that can make impactful and lasting change.
Whether you’re working from a home office or still commuting to work, there are various ways to protect the environment in a convenient, more sustainable way. But first, it’s important to acknowledge the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic not just on our health but on the entire planet.
In 2020, a record drop of approximately 2.4 billion metric tons of global fossil CO2 emissions was reported by NASA, attributing it to the impact of nations and economies shutting down due to the pandemic. Our daily patterns changed as we started working from home, driving less hours and cancelling travel plans altogether.
Although fighting climate change and accelerating conservation was not the top priority for those severely affected (at least during the past year), the planet was able to use this time to take a break from conventional methods of production and consumption, resulting to a silver lining of ecological recovery. Earth satellites detected a decline in air pollution levels in India and significant decreases in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over China, before rebounding to near normal levels three months later. Scientists have been using this dashboard to communicate the changes in air and water quality, climate change, and economic activity to the public.
Source: NASA Earth Observatory
Why does this matter? Just as wearing masks are able to protect us from coronavirus, there are simple and effective ways to protect the Earth from destructive humans. There are tasks that you can do by yourself in a short span of 10 minutes, like signing up for electronic bank statements rather than printed mail which uses paper and fuel to deliver. If you have a full day to dedicate to Mother Nature, then make it fun by inviting friends to a volunteer in a cleanup program – whether it’s picking up litter in your neighbourhood, a nearby beach, or a hiking trail. Make sure you use a biodegradable bag and maintain good hygiene while doing so.
Here are 9 ways to start observing Earth Day, no matter what time or day it is.
1. Measure your carbon footprint using this online calculator.
It helps to set a baseline of what your environmental impact currently is, and how you can move towards reducing it. Nothing’s stopping you from switching to hybrid cars, eating less red meat, or unplugging your unused devices right away, but it’s nice to learn a thing or two about what scientists mean when they say we need to decarbonize or become net-zero.
2. Search the web responsibly.
Ecosia uses the profits from its search ads to plant trees, which on average, takes about 45 searches. They also claim to be climate-neutral as they’ve built solar panels to support their privacy-friendly search engine on 200% renewable energy.
3. Grow an indoor or outdoor garden and start sourcing your herbs and vegetables at home.
When you discover the joy of preparing your own food, you will also be making less meal delivery and therefore cutting down on unnecessary fuel and packaging. In the US, the average plate full of food travels 1,500 miles before being eaten, while the EU records an estimated 174 kg of packaging waste per individual in 2018. See why we need more sustainability in our food deliveries?
4. Practice home-cooking responsibly by planning your meals ahead and lessen food waste.
Sometimes, it’s inevitable to generate food waste especially if you are hosting a meal or staying in a big household. Look for food banks near you where you can donate your excess food, or toss it in a compost bin to make sure your organic leftovers don’t end up in landfills – where they rot and release harmful methane gases.
5. Watch documentaries about environmental issues.
Switch your usual movie night to something more educational. Activism isn’t for everyone, but it won’t hurt to know what the most prominent environmental advocates and conservationists are lobbying towards their governments. The topic doesn’t also have to be politically charged! Start by picking a destination on the map and searching for wildlife photography or videos on Youtube. Some of the most groundbreaking nature films and television series are available on streaming sites and online websites for free.
6. BYO (Bring Your Own) when you can!
Reduce your carbon footprint by bringing your own bags when grocery shopping, drinking from a reusable container or cycling your way to do errands. While more options are available on the market including online stores, try and look for charities or social enterprises that make their own merchandise. Not only will you be helping the planet by eliminating single-use plastic, but you will also be promoting a good cause, like sustainability that you support wholeheartedly!
7. Join advocacy groups that conduct volunteer cleanup programs.
Encourage your friends or colleagues to do it with you one weekend, while on a beach trip or mountain hiking if they don’t sound convinced. Make it exciting by preparing hygiene kits for everyone, a biodegradable bag for collection, and mobile apps like Litterati to motivate tech-savvy peers.
8. Pick out rarely used items from your household or garage for resale.
Protect the environment from generating more waste when others may find your items useful! Why not make a few bucks while you’re at it? Take a photo, send it to close friends, or upload it on your favourite online marketplace.
9. Fix broken stuff and D-I-Y.
Be creative and look for solutions instead of buying something new! There are meaningful ways to do a DIY activity with kids which can inspire them to be self-conscious about nature. Check out some ideas from the DIY Network and make it an annual event every Earth Day where your family or teams can repair or produce something together!
Our ethical responsibility towards preserving the planet extends beyond the home and the workplace. For example, we consume face masks as health protection, but disposing of them has become a substantial problem that is polluting the environment.
Start by getting yourself a washable cloth mask – either DIY or bought from a local tailor – and practice the discipline of washing it every night. Imagine how much money you’ll save from stocking up single-use face masks! In this time of great uncertainty, the planet stays strong for us and so we should restore it, no matter what. Following these 9 steps can lead to a more liveable and sustainable planet, and future generations will thank you for it.