Earth Day - a day on which we all think green, and demonstrate our support for the environment that sustains us all. It's also a day when a lot of greenwashing can occur, as companies try to make themselves look more eco-friendly than they actually are to capitalize on our collective desire to live more sustainably.
I'm all for seizing any opportunity to think about the planet. However, this Earth Day, why not commit to a change that will make an impact long after April 22 has come and gone? Don't succumb to the greenwashing and the commercialism by buying a bunch of stuff you don't really need. Instead, think about how you can make a change that will have a lasting impact. To help you get started, I have four suggestions.
Four Changes to Make for Earth Day
- Donate to a Green Charity - There are lots of people doing great work on behalf of the planet. This Earth Day, pick a charity that you support and make a donation. If you don't have a lot of money, consider setting up a regular donation. Donating even $5 or $10 every month can really add up. Plus, it can help the charity to plan, since they know how much money is coming in. If you need help choosing a charity, check out Charity Navigator and Charity Intelligence Canada.
- Plant a Tree - It's a little cliche, I admit, but planting a tree really can make a big difference. Trees filter pollution and remove carbon dioxide from the air, produce oxygen, provide homes for animals, prevent soil loss and a whole lot more. If you plant a fruit or nut tree you're also increasing your food security. If you plant a tree on your property, make sure you do your research and pick a spot that meets the tree's needs, and that provides it room to grow. If you don't have space to plant a tree in your own yard, there are lots of groups that plant trees. You can help one of them out.
- Send an Email - If we want our governments to make positive changes for the planet, we need to let our elected representatives know that we care, and that we're paying attention. The best way to do this is to get in touch with them. On Earth Day write a letter, send an email, make a phone call or sign a petition (or three). Raise your voice and bring the issues that matter to you to the attention of the people who are supposed to be representing you. It's fast, it's easy and it's free, and if enough of us do it we can create lasting change long after Earth Day is over.
- Ditch the Disposables - Reusables are a great way to reduce your consumption, whether they're stainless steel water bottles, glass straws or cloth shopping bags. Buying a reusable shopping bag is a good step, but it doesn't make much difference if that bag stays forgotten in a drawer in your kitchen. For Earth Day, make a commitment to ditching the disposables. Don't just buy reusables, commit to actually using them by making sure they're where you need them to be, when you need them. One thing I've done is to collect a few reusable bags that collapse to a very small size, so that I can keep a few in my car, purse and backpack, ready whenever I need them.