Happy Earth Day!
Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22. But this Domestic Diva truly believes Earth Day is every day. Caring for the planet, people and pets we love is not a once a year commitment. And not only am I committed to creating the most cruelty free and toxic free home and garden, I am committed to helping you do the very same. That’s why I’m sharing my top 11 Ways to Care for the Planet, every day. It may seem daunting. And for some it may even seem unnecessary. But there is an abundance of alarming data out there that reminds us, we’d better take care of Mother Earth if we want to enjoy this wondrous place we call home for generations to come. I’m not going to preach or parade a stream of statics across the page. If you’re reading this then you’ve already taken the first, very important step towards being a better steward of our planet. I’ve included 11 Ways to Care for the Planet. Start with just one action and see if you can fit in all 11 by Earth Day 2017.
11 Ways to Care for the Planet
1. End Junk Mail – Cut the clutter in your home and reduce paper waste by registering to opt out of junk mail and catalogues at Catalog Choice.
2. Use Cloth Instead of Paper – My biggest environmental waste sin is that I use far too many paper towels. I’m committed to reducing my paper towel consumption (read obsession) by 50% this year. I’ve purchased a stack in expensive white “bar rags” from Bed Bath & Beyond and will reach for those more often. While some messes really do require the use of a disposable paper towel (for instance, when my senior pup can’t quite make it outside in time) I tend to abuse the roll sitting on my kitchen counter and so part of my strategy is to make it less convenient and hide the roll out of sight.
3. Unplug – When you’re not using devices like toasters, blenders, Bluetooth speakers, electric toothbrushes, printers, small table lights and even your phone charger, unplug the device entirely. A small current courses through electronic devices even when they are not in use and this not only increases your energy bill it taxes our resources and is not good for the environment.
4. Purchase Local Produce – Why? When you purchase fruits and vegetables grown across the country or across the globe, you pay the price, both financially and environmentally. Transporting produce from a few states over or importing bananas (for instance, which are not grown in the United States) adds fuel costs and contributes to pollution. Furthermore, your produce is not as fresh and may be chemically treated to help preserve it on long hauls. Consider enjoying more of the season’s best and support local farmers by purchasing a subscription for a local farm box delivery program like Farm Fresh To You.
5. Recycle Your e-Waste – Did you know in is illegal to dispose of anything battery operated or that uses a plug, in the trash? The Electronic Waste Recycling Act was signed into law on September 24, 2003, and amended by Senate Bill 50 on September 29, 2004. E-waste contains toxic materials such as arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium. Many people are not aware of the hazardous chemicals and compounds found in old computers, cell phones or stereo equipment. If not properly contained, these toxic substances can seep into the ground or be released into the air or water supply. This poses some potentially serious health threats to the general public, wildlife and our planet. Help protect our world by properly recycling all electronics items. While some retailers offer recycling programs for computers, TV’s and such, they often charge consumers to handle electronic waste. Instead, consider donating your e-waste to an organization like Goodwill. Most Goodwill locations will happily accept your e-waste for free and many operate programs for individuals with disabilities who learn new skills while being trained to safely dismantle and recycle your e-waste. As they say at Goodwill – that’s Good for Everyone! To find a center near you visit Goodwill or look online to find an authorized e-waste recycler near you. Goodwill’s e-waste recycling programs not only help care for the planet by diverting materials from landfills, but they support the local community and individuals with disabilities by offering valuable skills training, dignified employment, a paycheck and a sense of inclusion and pride.
6. Read the Label – So many every day, seemingly harmless products contain chemicals that may be hazardous to your home, family, pets and planet. Read the label, research ingredients, consider using or making household cleansers, cosmetics and other products that are limited to natural ingredients, not tested on animals and safe for the environment. There is an environmentally safe product replacement for nearly every items you use in your home. There are thousands of online resources and brands like Method, Seventh Generation, and many, many more that can help you live a cruelty free, less toxic life! Check back this weekend when I’ll round up my favorite cruelty free cosmetics and cleaners.
7. Ditch the Bottle – Last year, it is estimated that Americans disposed of 38 billion water bottles totaling more than $1 billion worth of plastic. Strait into landfill. If you consume the recommended eight, eight ounce glasses of water a day, or four, 16 oz. bottles, you can either spend under $2 per year based on the average tap water rate, or closer to just under $2,000 a year for the same amount of bottled water. Yes. You read correctly. You can save thousands of dollars a year, and the planet, by drinking tap water. While most municipal water exceeds the regulatory safety standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, we know that in some areas of the country, purchasing water is a necessity. And, if you don’t enjoy the taste of tap water, consider purchasing a home filtration system or disposable, pitcher style filters you’ll still save money and help save the planet. . I really enjoy the taste and temperature of the water that is dispensed from my refrigerator. I’m just very careful to change the filter frequently and I save big by buying a few at a time online. And remember, many of our household items come in bottles. Consider buying in bulk or switching to bar soap to reduce packaging waste. And really, if you love coffee as much as I do, and you get yours to go, for heaven’s sake, purchase a reusable commuter mug. There is a dizzying array of beautiful options available for for sale and a quick rinse with soap and water, or a lazy overnight soak in the sink will clean your cup in no time!
8. Boot the Plastic Bags – I buy approximately one roll of plastic wrap a year and I have not purchased or used plastic baggies for more than a decade. I don’t miss them one bit. I save money and help protect the environment, while creating a more organized fridge and freezer, as containers (which come in all shapes and sizes) stack well unlike bags. Replace plastic baggies for food storage with BPA free reusable plastic or glass storage containers for all of your snacks, leftovers and more. I really find no use whatsoever for plastic food storage bags and I challenge you to go one month without and find out for yourself just how easy it is. Sorry Ziplock.
9. Start Composting – Billions of pounds of food are disposed of annually. While you may think there’s no harm given these organic materials will break down safely in landfills, you may be forgetting about the associated costs and energy used to transport, process and dispose of food that ends up in landfill. Instead of trashing your fruits and veggie scraps, newspapers, leaves and more, try composting! Composting is a biological process during which naturally occurring microorganisms, bacteria and insects, break down organic materials and turn them into a nutrient rich soil-like product. This method of recycling not only helps manage waste and protect the environment, it is the best natural fertilizer, helps keep your home garden pesticide free, and produces the most beautiful, delicious fruit and vegetables, saving you money too! For more on how to get started visit Eartheasy. And check out online catalogues like Gardener’s Supply Company for a selection of composting bins and other resources.
10. Safely Dispose Medications – Prescription and over the counter medications pose health and environmental hazards when disposed of improperly. Under no circumstances is it safe to dispose of any medication by flushing it down the toilet, pouring it down a drain or dumping it into a sewer. Doing so can contaminate water sources and current sewage treatment systems are not effective in removing all drugs from waterways. For details on how to manage medication waste, please visit the FDA online. In addition, the 11th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is being hosted by the DEA on Saturday, April 30, 2016 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. You can search for a local collection site near you by clicking here. And be sure to remove and destroy all identifying personal information from prescription medication containers before recycling them or throwing them away as your personal identity and security may be at risk if information is recovered from these labels. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States.
11. Lightbulbs, Batteries, Paints and other Toxic Fluids – Learn how to identify and manage common hazardous household items here and check your local government website to locate a local, authorized drop off center where hazardous materials like paint, motor oil, and other toxic compounds will be safely recycled or disposed of. Never mix these materials and do not dispose of them in your trash where they will end up in landfill and contaminate our precious earth.