For the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, here are 50 things you can do at home to help our environment.
In the Kitchen...
- Invest in reusable bottles and cups. Stop buying single use plastic bottles for home.
- Skip the straw. Go “straw-less” or use your own steel, glass, or silicone straws.
- Say no to takeout extras – bags, straws, napkins, plastic cutlery – and use what you have at home.
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
- Try meatless Monday (or more) each week to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Find an alternative to plastic food wrap. Reusable options include beeswax wraps or simply using parchment paper.
- Store food in reusable containers instead of plastic bags.
- Wash larger dishes by hand and run the dishwasher less.
- Replace paper towels with reusable cloth towels.
In the Laundry...
- Do less laundry – cut down on the frequency you wash clothing. Many items can be worn multiple times before a wash, reducing the micro plastics (from synthetic textiles) that enter our waterways.
- Can’t avoid the loads of laundry each week? Pledge not to wash on a delicate cycle. Delicate wash cycles use twice as much water and release on average 800,000 more microfibers compared to standard cycle. Hand wash instead if necessary.
- Use wool dryer balls instead of fabric softener or dryer sheets. Dryer balls contain no toxic chemicals, they last for thousands of loads, reduce static, make your clothes dry faster, and they can be scented with a couple drops of essential oils.
- Hang up clothesline and dry clothes outdoors.
Around the house...
- Power down and unplug infrequently used electronics. Reduce your screen time and energy consumption.
- Conduct your own home energy audit: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/home-energy-audits/do-it-yourself-home-energy-audits
- Repurpose glass jars as leftover containers and bulk storage, especially in the kitchen. Repurpose containers for food storage, storage for change or other small items. Start seeds in yogurt cups,
- Make your own cleaning products.
- Learn and practice local recycling guidelines. Visit www.cuyahogarecycles.org. for updates. If your community has suspended their recycling program store clean recyclables for now.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Plant your own vegetable and/or herb garden. It’s great to know where your food comes from, and it will lower your carbon footprint by saving the process of transport and packaging of items you would purchase at the store.
- Collect rainwater, and use it to water your houseplants and garden. Learn how here: https://www.cuyahogaswcd.org/programs/rain-barrels
- Plant milkweed in your landscaping to support habitat for monarch butterflies. Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed so providing a food source helps feed their population.
- Plant something green, and native! Use the National Wildlife Federation Native Plant Finder tool to discover local native plants you can plant at home in your garden, yard, or pots, and learn what local species they support. You’ll likely see more birds and butterflies around too! https://www.nwf.org/nativeplantfinder/
- Make your yard wildlife friendly. Add birdbaths, feeders, bee houses, nest boxes or bat houses to your yard or property to provide shelter, food and water for migrating or residential wildlife. Adding native trees, bushes and flowers can also provide natural sources for nesting, perching and protection. For more ideas about building backyard habitats check out: https://www.nwf.org/garden
- Start a compost for food waste.
- Support local businesses and restaurants.
- Ask for email receipts at stores, use mobile apps for tickets and coupons to reduce paper usage.
- Switch to electronic bill notifications and payments instead of paper.
- Opt out of junk mail Call 1-888-567-8688 or visit OptOutPrescreen.com to stop receiving prescreened credit card and insurance offers.
- Reduce trips to the store by buying food in bulk.
- The phone case industry makes 1+ Billion plastic phone cases every single year! Be sustainable and help wildlife – eco-friendly Pela phone cases, www.pelacase.com are incredibly protective and 100% compostable.
- Order a lot from Amazon? Reduce the amount of packaging and eliminate unnecessary plastic used to ship your orders by adding a “less packaging request” to your Amazon account. Contact their customer service team by email (email@example.com) or phone (888-280-4331); or, live chat with an associate via Amazon’s website. This note from customer service on your account will show up every time an order is being prepared to ship to you.
- If having your own garden isn’t possible, shop at a local farmers market for produce instead of a grocery store to reduce your carbon footprint and support the local economy. Find a farmer's market near you here: https://ediblecleveland.com/resources/markets
- Drink shade grown coffee. https://birdsandbeanscoffee.com/ is a great option and is delivered right to your door.
- Be a responsible consumer and never buy wildlife or products made from protected wildlife or their parts - or support vendors who sell them.
- Research and shop for eco-friendly brands.
- Use your political power: contact your local representatives to advocate for environmental action and sustainable policies.
- Recycle your cell phone and other personal electronics to protect gorilla habitat and support gorilla conservation. Save your donations to bring to the Zoo and place them in the secure Eco-Cell collection box.
- Order the Save Vanishing Species stamps from the US Postal Service. Net proceeds from the sale of these stamps goes to help elephants, great apes, rhinos, marine turtles and tigers. Over $5.7 million has been raised for the cause so far.
- Donate to a fund such as the Cleveland Metroparks Trails Fund to support trails in the parks or the Zoo’s Future for Wildlife Fund to support wildlife conservation efforts around the world. https://www.clevelandzoosociety.org/campaigns/conservation
- For your birthday this year, choose to opt out of gifts and instead ask for donations to your favorite conservation/wildlife organization.
- Choose a meaningful gift for yourself or others that supports a great conservation cause.
- Write a thank you note to Mother Earth
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by walking or riding a bike to get around whenever possible.
- Don’t idle your car.
- Get optimal gas mileage – If an electric or fuel-efficient car isn’t an option for you – do what you can to ensure you’re getting optimal gas mileage: check your tire pressure and ensure that all 4 tires are at the recommended pressure listed in your owner’s manual. This can increase gas mileage up to 3%.
- Go outside and enjoy the beauty of nature in your yard or neighborhood without driving anywhere.