10 Ways to Live More Sustainably on Earth Day and Every Day

Words by Katherine Englishman
Photos by Katherine Englishman

It’s tough to be stuck indoors on a day that’s meant for celebrating our wonderful, wild natural world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it your best shot. Sustainability is a way of seeing and being in the world. It’s a way of life and a mindset that you choose to have day in and day out. When you really take these values to heart, a more simple and eco-friendly lifestyle will become a result of the lens you’re looking through and not just things you check off a list to be better.

As human beings, we are uniquely positioned to be able to enjoy, explore, and protect this beautiful place we call home. So to help you make a positive difference and tread lightly, here’s a list of ten ways to live more sustainably this Earth Day.

 

  • Decrease your carbon footprint with human-powered travel – At least once or twice a week, choose to ride your bike rather than drive your car. There’s plenty of science that shows riding your bike decreases your emissions (obviously, because you don’t have a gas tank), but it’s also such a wonderful way to immerse yourself in your local natural environment. Plus, there’s nothing like some cardio to help you get out of the quarantine blues.

 

  • Swap out disposables for reusable home items – If cloth napkins are intimidating to you, let me be the first to tell you they’re not. Besides adding a little something to your tablescape, they are also so easy to clean and reduce unnecessary waste produced from disposable napkins. The same goes for reusable sponges, paper towels, and cloth produce bags that replace plastic. Simply throw them in the wash when they need a cleaning — oh, and remember to buy a dark color.

 

  • Support sustainable brands – From Patagonia to Cotopaxi, Tentree to Tretorn, by choosing to buy from brands that make ethical products, you’re also supporting many issues, like a more conscious supply chain, fair treatment of workers, and recycled materials. Personally, I try to go for the double-whammy by purchasing things that are functional and versatile as well, so I can do more with less! Case in point: my Patagonia hip pack has traveled with me from sunny California road trips to snowy backcountry huts, and beyond. I like to think we made some good memories along the way…

 

  • Explore and enjoy your own backyard! – Find your spot and go there often. Make sure it’s just a walk or a brief bike ride away. Studies show that we are more likely to protect the places we feel connected to, so your everyday explorations could make you an expert on the area, and possibly an effective conservationist.

 

  • Stay educated and informed on local environmental issues – These are important because your local area is the spot where you can get directly involved. While you’re home this Earth Day, do a little reading on your what’s going on nearby, whether it be waterways, parks, community gardens, or coastline, it’s worth protecting.

 

  • Volunteer to do trail maintenance or beach cleanups once a month – I’ve made some great friends at beach clean-ups and learned so much about the trails in my neighborhood just by hammering a few nails into a bridge. Volunteering your time in this way goes beyond manual labor. More often than not, the crews who maintain our outdoor spaces are under-staffed, under-appreciated, or under-funded. Just think what a difference a few hours of your day could make in boosting morale and preserving the places we love to play. If nothing more, you might just make some new best friends.

 

  • Learn to repair — not replace! – It’s simple and straightforward. Sustainable living means valuing the things you have and not looking at them through the lens of being convenient and disposable. This ties back to investing in brands you believe in and spending a bit more on well-made products with a purpose. If you really love your belongings, you won’t want to toss ‘em! And hey, it’s easy to learn a simple stitch…

  • Buy in bulk as often as possible – While in the comfort of your home, you can start to browse pantry items like rice, flour, sugar, and so on, that are available in bulk. It cuts back on a ton of plastic and you’ll be able to buy the amount you actually need. Feeling ambitious? Try searching for home and bath products that you can get in bulk (psst: the answer is dish soap!).

 

  • Make it a habit to unplug, get outside, and savor the moment – Our digital world can be beneficial for so many reasons — virtual hangouts coming in at the top of the list these days — but if we don’t take a break, we can’t appreciate both ends of the spectrum. Give your body and mind a chance to absorb the sights and sounds of your favorite outdoor spot or a quiet moment on the back patio. This helps down-regulate your stress response, inspire creativity, and balance your systems. Mother nature knows what she’s doing, I promise.

 

  • Enjoy every adventure, big and small – It’s really that simple. Train your mind to look for the good things that really are everywhere. When you focus more on the small pleasures or even the sense of adventure you get while simply planning that audacious hike, your brain doesn’t have the time to think of all the reasons why you shouldn’t feel happy. So, on Earth Day and every day, let yourself enjoy it all and appreciate how much power you have to make a positive change.
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