Earth Week 2016: Earth Day Resolutions for Year-Round Impact

We’re celebrating Earth Week 2016 with suggestions for how to apply the phrase “Earth Day Every Day” to conserving biodiversity. There are a number of great suggestions for things you can do every day to conserve energy and water; but we asked ourselves, what actions can we take to conserve biodiversity? This week we’ll explore: food production on biodiversity, how plastic consumption impacts biodiversity, creating a biodiversity friendly lawn, and engaging children in nature experiences to foster connections to the environment.

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Happy Earth Day 2016 everyone!

As we prepared our Earth Week 2016 series, our internal discussions turned towards how Earth Hour and Earth Day often feel like token gestures.  We care about the environment for an hour or a day, but more often we’re only acknowledging that others care about the environment for this short period of time.  We hope the ideas offered within our Earth Week posts (plus these great suggestions) are catalysts for action.  We believe that doing a little something is better than nothing, and that living by example is one of the most powerful ways to affect change.  When others see your actions, they become inspired to act themselves.

A main challenge of living with an eye towards the environment and biodiversity conservation is that there is SO much to do!  Sometimes the feeling is overwhelming; but it doesn’t have to be.  We encourage people to start with a small step relevant to your lifestyle, once that becomes habit, take another step.  Small steps will differ for everyone, but thinking about the impacts of our choices is the first step towards changing our habits.  Maybe for you it will be carrying reusable shopping bags, asking the barista for coffee in a mug and not a paper cup, or participating in Meatless Monday.  We’ll each be taking a small step this year and will tweet our #EarthDayResolutions.

But what if you’ve made the small changes and are ready to take a big step.  What do those changes look like?  These suggestions can be uncomfortable to discuss, in part because they dramatically affect lifestyle, some may even be third rails of the environmental movement.

  • Limit the number of children to 0 or 1.  The idea here is to limit future consumption by limiting the number of people who will be consumers.
  • Go vegetarian or vegan.  Animal production requires large inputs of energy and water resources, thus decreasing consumption decreases the environmental impact.
  • Downsize the square footage of your house.  With less space for goods, you will purchase fewer things.  Additionally, heating and cooling large spaces takes more energy than small spaces.
  • Set thermostats warmer in summer and cooler in winter, rather than at a constant year round temperature.
  • Become a 1 car family, or do not own a car.  Easier in urban areas but achievable in suburban areas.
  • Reduce consumption of goods
  • Limit purchases of electronics or goods that use phantom energy (see here for tips)
  • Use up all of the things you purchase. Wear out your clothes, eat food before it spoils, use all of your household goods

These big changes can take a lot of planning, but they are within reach.  The crux is to remember the two themes of Earth Day: 1) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and 2) Earth Day Every Day.  Lifestyle changes that automatically take these themes into account can maximize your contribution to a sustainable future.

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