Even though the world seems like it’s upside down at times, especially amidst a universal pandemic, the Earth continues to need to be cared for. Landfills are reaching unprecedented levels, harmful waste is affecting the environment, and our carbon footprint remains at an all-time high.
This Earth Day, consider committing to easy ways to help the environment with your family. It used to be that all we had to do was “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” but doing those things are just not sufficient enough any more. Surely you’ve seen the lists about changing light bulbs from incandescent to LED, and buying reusable containers for your kids’ lunchboxes, but what else can you do? There are so many realistically simple things you can do and we’ve got a long list so you can see what fits within your family’s lifestyle.
Buy sustainable tech accessories and phone cases.
Pela is an international sustainable company that makes “everyday products without everyday waste,” which includes the world’s first compostable phone cases, smartwatch bands, and AirPods cases. “Initially, maintaining a more sustainable lifestyle might be presumed as time consuming and rather intimidating,” says Pela CEO Matt Bertulli, “But once you educate yourself about small, unconventional steps you can do to slowly move toward, the more you’ll realize it’s attainable amongst anyone.”
Look for materials made out of natural fibers, like wool.
Man-made materials take more than 30 years in a landfill before they start to decompose, and in their creation and death, they leave chemicals and other hazardous wastes behind. Instead, surround yourself with natural fibers that are sustainable and biodegradable. When upgrading your home with an eco-friendly mindset, wool is superior in functionality and sustainability. Sonoma Wool Company offers all-natural wool products for the kitchen, bathroom, and many places in your home. The same qualities that make wool breathable, also allow it to wick water away and remain bacteria, mold, and mildew-free.
Replace kids’ plastic dishes.
Manasa Mantravadi, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician and mom of 3, began developing Ahimsa after the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement saying plastic can be harmful to children and instead recommended stainless steel or glass dinnerware whenever possible. The colorful stainless steel dinnerware takes pride in providing nontoxic products that won’t chip peel or leach harmful chemicals.
“Stainless steel is the norm in many parts of the world, including India,” Dr. Mantravadi says. “Billions of Indians and other Asian cultures use stainless steel dishes daily at the family dining table and in restaurants. It’s durable, lasts for generations, is made of the most recycled material in the world, and is safe for human health. Transitioning to stainless steel at the dinner table is a game-changer for parents. They can feel good about what their children are eating from and their kids are excited to eat from a literal rainbow with these colorful dishes from Ahimsa.”
Replace single-use water bottles and coffee cups with reusable ones.
It takes 3 liters of water to package a single plastic water bottle, so imagine how much water you can save with one reusable bottle. Replacing one single-use coffee cup with a reusable mug every day for one year, will help prevent 23 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, 281 gallons of water use, and 16 pounds of waste. Stanley, famous for inventing the outdoor staple vacuum-sealed bottled, has been creating eco-friendly, reusable gear for more than 100 years and is committed to making its products responsibly. RTIC also creates premium drinkware products that range from water bottles to travel mugs and tumblers.
Volunteer to pick up litter in your local park.
Parks Project, the maker of quality, national park-inspired goods, is showcasing its mission to “Leave It Better Than You Found It” with its new Clean Up Kits. This activity is a great way to instill incredible values to the family about respecting the environment. Each kit includes Parks Project gloves, trash bags, and recycling bags made with recycled materials! “Our Clean Up Kits are made to inspire and make it easier for families to get together and clean up the places they love,” said Keith Eshelman, CEO and cofounder of Parks Project. “Leaving it better than you found it is our motto and we're excited to share that mission in an all-new way.”
City Parks Foundation hosts It’s My Park events, when volunteers spend a few hours helping to clean up their local NYC park, and Keep Rockland Beautiful hosts events throughout Rockland County. Plus, you can check our calendar of events for other volunteer opportunities in local parks. A little effort makes a big difference so let’s give the parks we love some TLC.
Stop food waste.
Sustainability author Kate Bratskeir recommends a really simple way to reduce your food waste, save money and help fight climate change all at once. “Whether you have leftover sauce, soup or wine, you can freeze them using silicone trays and then store them in a bag in the freezer until you're ready to use (don't forget to label the bag),” she says. “Products that help you portion out your leftovers — like these souper cubes — come in handy. You can even freeze extra herbs in olive oil and butter, which is a really simple way to make infused oil that you can plop directly onto pans on the stovetop to add a fancy feeling to whatever you're cooking.”
She also recommends packing food in reusable containers. “Make an impact by getting rid of as many single-use products as possible. Stasher bags are a cult favorite for snacks, but they do so much more: You can microwave them, put them in the oven and the freezer and even sous vide with them. They are definitely evolving into a household staple and they do a great job of replacing things that only get used once, like plastic wrap and plastic baggies.”
Buy eco-friendly bedding and mattresses.
One of the easiest things families can do at home to make a difference for the earth—and their health—is switch to eco-friendly, nontoxic bedding. Some of the best eco-friendly materials to look for in bedding and mattresses include organic cotton, natural latex, and memory foam that uses plant-based ingredients, like soybean and corn oil, in place of some of the standard petroleum-based derivatives. Saatva uses eco-friendly, CertiPUR-US certified foams in all of their mattresses, including their new kids’ mattresses.
Use eco-friendly home products.
With Earth Day coinciding with Spring Cleaning, you can green your cleaning routine by swapping out chemical-based cleaning supplies with CleanWell’s botanical Disinfectant Wipes and Sprays. The active ingredient is thymol, a plant-based antibacterial derived from the essential oils of thyme and other herbs. The formula kills 99.9% of germs and meets the requirements for the EPA’s “List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2”.
Puracy, another great option, is a natural cleaning, baby and body brand that creates plant-powered household products that are safe for families, environmentally-friendly, and more effective than harsh big brand cleaners. Puracy products are made from natural, uncompromising ingredients and biodegradable within 30 days so they don't contribute to aquatic toxicity.
Strive for a clean diet.
When you purchase 100% grass-fed meat and dairy you are part of the climate solution. According to Regenerative Rancher Doniga Markegard, when cattle are fed an unnatural diet of grain, or when people choose alt-meat products, carbon gets released into the atmosphere thanks to the farming methods used. “The solution is right under our feet and everyone can do their part to choose products that build healthy soil,” she says. “Two brands that do a great job of providing quality grass-fed beef and dairy are Teton Waters Ranch and Maple Hill, and they're easy for everyone to find at their local grocery store.”
Plant a tree.
Planting a tree is a major activity you can do at home with your family. PlantOGram makes it easy. Delivered straight to your home, little and big kids alike can be involved in planting the tree, nurturing it, watching it grow, and ultimately give you fruit.
Tara Dodson is a sustainability consultant who recently launched Eco Collections Marketplace, a comprehensive collection of eco-friendly amenities and other sustainably-sourced items. The marketplace includes a variety of products that are perfect for those looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle. “Having an environmentally friendly home while managing a busy household can be hectic, but it's possible to shop smarter while still protecting the environment,” says Dodson. “Eco Collections Marketplace makes it easy and accessible for families to eliminate single-use products that harm our planet.” Package Free is a similar concept, meant to be an eco-friendly replacement for things you use in your everyday life.
Instead of sending that handwritten card, consider Punchbowl, a digital greeting card and invitation company that serves as a great alternative to traditional cards. Get the look and feel of paper, but without the carbon footprint. Bonus: They now make video cards and give you the opportunity to send a digital gift card along with your greeting.