Fifty years ago, the first Earth Day took place in 1970. It is now an annual event celebrated on April 22, coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. It reaches more than 192 countries each year including hundreds of communities in the United States.
Earth Day fell on Wednesday this week – but with everything going on in the world around us, you might have missed it. Earth Week 2020’s formal activities including San Diego’s free, all-volunteer Earth Fair at Balboa Park had to be postponed. The County of San Diego offers a virtual Earth Day online here.
But Mother Earth is enjoying the celebration. Since the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of industry worldwide and removed most of the cars from the roads, air pollution has dropped as much as 40 percent in many places. These maps tell the story.
Wildlife is even making a return to urban areas. Deer, coyotes, and mountain goats have wandered onto empty streets and freeways. Borrego’s bighorn sheep are enjoying their quiet hills!
These results show we can take action and make a real difference to improve our air quality and environment, and it shouldn’t take a pandemic to do it.
While you are at home, we hope you are continuing to recycle and lower your energy use. But there is always more you can do. In honor of Earth Day 2020, Good Earth Plant Company shares our 20 ways to celebrate Earth Day 2020.
- Nature is still open for business. You can count on nature in these difficult days. Plus, there are studies that show sunlight and fresh air help us heal much faster. We’ve been writing about this for many years, and it’s never been more important than today. It may be close to home, but that’s OK. Open your eyes to the possibilities!
- Volunteer for a neighborhood or beach clean-up on a regular basis when they resume. Visit the I Love A Clean San Diego website for a few ideas, or join your local community group, place of worship, or organize one yourself when social distancing restrictions are relaxed.
- Visit one of San Diego’s gardens. A trip to East County’s Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College is well worth the trip. Don’t forget the Japanese Friendship Garden and Alcazar Garden in Balboa Park, South Bay Botanic Garden at Southwestern College, or the Self-Realization Fellowship Center meditation gardens with a view of the Pacific Ocean in Encinitas. Many of you know this place as Swami’s. It is free.
- Take your kids on a nature hike when parks re-open – and let them double as a biology or natural science homeschooling lesson. Mission Trails Regional Park regularly holds free classes.
Reduce Your Use
- Reduce your clothing purchases. There is 40 percent more textile waste since 1999. People buy 68 individual pieces of clothing a year on average. Millennials wear clothing just THREE TIMES on average. Clothing isn’t disposable! Do you really need another t-shirt? Spend a little more and invest in quality clothing that will last five years, not one.
- Cut down on food waste. Americans spend $165 billion on food that goes wasted. Food waste in landfills creates methane gas as it degrades, a major contributor to global warming. Buy only the groceries you KNOW you can use. Instead of calling Uber Eats, see what you need to use up in the refrigerator and pantry first. It saves money, too.
- Get a reusable coffee container. In just one year, 14.4 BILLION cups of coffee are served in paper cups in the United States. This would wrap around the planet 55 times.
- Join the straw-free movement. Plastic straws are a menace. They end up in our oceans, rivers and lakes, choking and killing wildlife. Do you really need a straw to draw that soda or glass of water? No, you don’t. Use a straw, kill a sea turtle.
- Buy a single multipurpose cleaner and reduce the clutter and chemicals of a dozen different containers. Try using natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar. Here are a few recipes to try.
- Calculate your own carbon footprint. Ever wondered just how much CO2 you produce during your daily routine? Finding out is the first step to fixing it. Americans average 16 tons per year. The rest of the world? Four tons. Ouch. Warning: The results may deliver a side dish of guilt.
Adopt a Green Routine
- Get a bidet. Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper every year, which represents the pulping of some 15 million trees. And this isn’t when they are hoarding it! People are now turning to a more environmentally friendly option. They’re investing in a bidet instead. Not only are these devices more sanitary and cheaper in the long run, they can also lower our use of toilet paper to save both trees and water. They’ve been popular everywhere except the U.S. for decades. Maybe it’s time to change this trend.
- Go meatless one day a week. Meat production creates an excessive strain on environmental resources. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, livestock agriculture contributes to more than 18% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. It takes up to 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. It won’t kill you to back off the burgers once in a while.
- Check your pipes and plumbing for leaks. Even one small leak can waste hundreds of gallons of water every year. Get a professional to check for leaks. You’ll make up the cost in water bill savings while conserving one of our most precious resources.
- Switching all of your bills to e-bills and online invoices can save millions of trees every single year. So can viewing product catalogs online instead of getting them in the mail. For a few weeks, go through your mail and switch everything possible to online delivery.
- Inflate your tires! A properly inflated set of tires can improve gas mileage enough to prevent 250 pounds of CO2 every year from polluting the atmosphere.
- Don’t dump out old paint. Paint is a serious toxic hazard and a real threat to the environment. There are many places to recycle paint, including 50 major paint retailers in San Diego County. Here’s a guide for you.
Think Before You Buy
- Reconsider how often your car needs an oil change. New vehicles can go 15,000 miles before needing an oil change. Consider synthetic oil when you do get an oil change. Visit this excellent resource provided by the City of Chula Vista.
- Reuse and repurpose. Before you toss that broken item, can you save it? Turn it into something else? Donate it to a thrift store? One person’s donation is another person’s find. Shop your local thrift stores. If you’re a newbie, start with books, artwork, and glassware. You’ll get hooked.
- Adopt a pet. It’s become a popular thing to do during the shutdown. People now have time to get a new family member settled in. Find a home for one of the many pets at San Diego’s shelters or with a rescue group. Sign up at Petfinder.com and have candidates sent to your email daily. Considering sponsoring an adoptable animal with a donation.
- Say no to promotional items you get at conferences and fundraisers. Accepting it just encourages more. Pass it up. Your trash pile will shrink dramatically. One exception: recyclable grocery bags.
Doing what we can to create a cleaner, healthier environment is an every day mission at Good Earth Plant Company. We hope you’ll do your part too. Each of us doing a little adds up to a lot. If you’re motivated to do a little more, contact us about adding plants to your work or home environment. We enrich people’s lives with plants. We’ve got lots of great ideas for you.