Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Turn Earth Day into a week’s worth of earth-friendly activities

If you’re looking for a great excuse to do something special later this month, consider celebrating Earth Day. It lands on Wednesday, April 22. By celebrate I mean plan something to honour the day.

Last year at work we stretched Earth Day into a week’s worth of earth-friendly activities. It was a great reminder of the simple things you can do to reduce your everyday environmental impact, and having one task assigned for each day made it easy to remember. You can do the same at home.

Here are a few suggestions. You can pick one for each day, or try to do as many as you can in a week. With any luck you’ll keep the challenge going long past April.

· Pack a litter-less lunch that includes nothing that will end up in the trash. Avoid all packaged food and instead pack food in reusable containers or bags. So no mini yogurts and no juice boxes.

· Carpool, take the bus, walk to work or work from home – do whatever is possible to ensure you’re not driving alone to work.

· Plan a 100 mile meal (or as close to a 100 mile radius as possible). Use local food from your freezer, the grocery store or local market. Read packaging and labels to find root vegetables grown in the Maritimes to go alongside your main dish or cook a vegetarian meal. Local cheese and eggs are easy to find too.

· Wash your clothes in cold water and then hang them to dry.

· Turn off lights when you leave a room, and turn off the TV, radio and your computer (including at work).

· Try to go a day (or a week) without getting any bags from stores. Bring your own bags instead or don’t use a bag at all for purchases that are easy to carry.

· Don’t idle your car when you’re parked someplace, whether it’s waiting in your car to pick someone up or running to grab a coffee.

· Forgo a disposable cup when you get your daily coffee. Instead bring your own reusable mug.

· Can you go a day (or a week) without using plastic wrap in your kitchen? Cover bowls with plates or store things in reusable containers.

· At work, can you go a day (or longer) without printing anything?

· Take part in a school or community clean-up. Or plan a walk with your family and take a garbage bag to pick up any trash you final along your route.

The idea is to test-drive some basic eco-friendly behaviour and hopefully start down the path of developing some new habits. With luck you’ll see that it’s no great sacrifice to go without plastic wrap, and turning the dial to cold for a wash doesn’t require a leap of faith.

This article was previously published in KV Style (


Unknown said...

These are great ideas. I've been trying to solve the plastic wrap dilemma for years because I can't stand the stuff. I wonder what alternatives are. For example, is parchment not just as wasteful for cheese wrapping, or is it better? And what are the best storage things for the fridge, because I don't like the taste of plastic in any case.

Bridget Oland said...

The great thing about parchment is that it can be composted. And you can get unbleached parchment too. I always go for reusable containers to store food -- and there are lots of glass versions available so you can avoid plastic.