Here’s How to Save the World (Happy Earth Day!)
First celebrated in the U.S. in 1970, Earth Day is now observed in 192 different countries. For the 2017 celebration, the Earth Day Network has identified “Environmental & Climate Literacy” as the focus.
“Education is the foundation for progress,” the Network writes, and “We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.”
Understanding the larger issues is one thing, but understanding the changes each of us can make to protect the planet is another. To help you take action, here are some ideas from Compulse staffers who strive to live the green life.
Eat and drink with less waste
Briana Ellis of the ad ops team uses “Tupperware instead of paper plates, a lunchbox instead of paper bags and a glass water bottle instead of plastic.”
If your office offers disposable cutlery, plates and cups but also has a sink, consider bringing one of each item to use at the office. A minute or two rinsing out a coffee cup each day over the course of your career adds up.
According to Psychology Today, the average person spends 90,000 hours on the job during their lifetime. Divide that into eight-hour days and you end up with 11,250 days. Keeping 11,250 plates or cups out of the landfill is a big deal.
Be an energy expert
Laura Scott of the ad ops team doesn’t want to brag, but in college she won an award for being the “most green tenant” in her apartment complex. Her secret? ENERGY!
Laura uses energy-efficient lighting in her home and turns off lights when she’s not in a room. You can do the same – choose LED or CFL lightbulbs and flip the switch when you exit a room.
Get down with gardening
Web Designer Dayna Cohen and Billing Coordinator Karen Neeper both point out the importance of thinking planet-first in your garden.
Karen sprays a natural insect repellant made of dish soap, vinegar and water on the leaves of her edible plants to keep beetles and bugs at bay without harsh chemicals.
She also plants lots of flowering bushes and lets “the dandelions and other flowing weeds bloom in the spring for the bees to thrive on.” Social standards vilify dandelions, but they support bee and butterfly populations and foregoing harsh insecticides protects the environment.
As Rachel Carson describes in Silent Spring, applying nonselective pesticides widely can kill “every insect, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’…They should not be called ‘insecticides,’ but ‘biocides.’” Carson was discussing DDT specifically, but any chemical can prove harmful if applied irresponsibly.
Don Twine, Compulse’s Digital Graphic Designer, lives on the water so he’s especially careful about the chemicals he uses while gardening. Runoff can carry fertilizers into waterways, spurring rapid plant growth and depleting oxygen levels. As a consequence, entire aquatic ecosystems can suffocate.
Reuse and embrace “used”
Dayna suggests buying clothing on consignment or accepting hand-me-downs from friends and siblings to minimize your contributions to disposable fashion. She also notes that you can repurpose YOUR old clothing – make a tote bag out of an old T-shirt or cut a worn sheet into rags to use when cleaning.
Don and Dayna both reuse plastic shopping bags as liners for small trash cans to cut waste and keep trash cans clean. Don also reuses a fast food drink carrier to hold his dog’s toys in place while he fills them with peanut butter. Now that effort deserves a round of apaws!
Remember that just because something has a slight imperfection doesn’t mean it’s useless. Buttons can be re-attached, holes can be sewn up and function can be re-imagined. Would your old button-down be a good art smock to keep the kids’ clothes clean during craft time? Can jeans with fraying cuffs be cut into shorts? Think creatively to get the most use of your items and minimize what you send to the landfill.
If a piece of clothing is really done, don’t just throw it in the trash. Find a place that recycles textiles to help “close the loop” on clothing.
Find out what your county accepts for curbside pickup, then recycle everything you can.
Don’t just toss in soda cans – take the time to rinse out recyclable food containers like TV dinner trays, Mayo jars and bottles of salad dressing. You won’t believe how quickly they pile up.
Check the number on the bottom of plastic containers to see if they’re the kind your county collects. Confused? Learn what the symbols mean here.
Win over your friends
No one wants to be nagged, but taking a subtle approach can help convince others to embrace eco-friendly choices. Nina Malik of the ad ops team told me the following story, which I think exemplifies encouraging positive change without being annoying.
When I first met my boyfriend at work, he would get a new Styrofoam cup every time he went into the kitchen for water and it made me cringe. Instead of being blunt and telling him straight up that he needed to save the environment, I bought him a fishing-themed Tervis and then made him think it was his idea to start using it at work… “Wouldn’t that be a great water cup at work? You could get so much in it instead of having to refill those little Styrofoam cups!
Obviously, he loved the thought of not having to get up every 15 minutes to get water when he was thirsty and adopted his re-usable cup. It wasn’t until later on in our relationship that I told him I was kind of obsessed with recycling and saving the environment and that it was all a scheme for him to start doing his part 😉
Hopefully, these tips can inspire you to adopt a few eco-friendly behaviors of your own. Earth Day is a great time to resolve to adopt one or two (or more!) practices that protect our natural resources.
Do you want to spread the word about your company’s eco-friendly choices? Compulse’s experts can help you highlight your values – and the value you offer customers – through digital outreach. Contact us to learn more.