Celebrating Earth Day: 10 Eco-Friendly Health and Wellness Tips

Our health and well-being are closely tied to the health of our environment. We depend on the availability of natural resources for survival, and our quality of life can be greatly impacted by factors like pollution, exposure to toxins, and accessibility to the outdoors. Earth Day provides an opportunity for us to appreciate the link between a healthy environment and a healthy self and for each one of us to take part in practicing more sustainable living.

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day is an annual event to bring awareness to environmental issues and the importance of environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, in the United States, it has expanded to include a wide range of global events coordinated by EarthDay.org in more than 192 countries. Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22.

How to celebrate Earth Day

There are endless opportunities — big and small — to celebrate and take part in Earth Day. Here is a list of 10 ways in which you can participate.

1. Go organic and local

Organic farming is considered more sustainable when it comes to food production. Organic methods avoid pesticides and fertilizers and promote a wider variety of plants to encourage better soil quality and reduced pollution. By choosing organic, you are supporting practices that help conserve natural resources.

Additionally, many organic foods can be found at your local farmer’s markets and roadside stands to support community agriculture while also cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, even if marginally (the majority are related to food production practices, not transportation). Buying locally will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 4%.

2. Choose green transportation

Transportation is the largest source of direct greenhouse gas emissions affecting global climate change. Most modes, like cars, trucks, trains, and planes, rely on burning fossil fuel to operate. To lower your carbon footprint, consider:

  • Biking or walking to nearby locations
  • Ridesharing or utilizing public transportation
  • Grouping errands together to minimize overall trips
  • Maintaining your gas-burning vehicle and getting it emission-tested
  • Opting for a more energy-efficient vehicle
  • Using cruise control while driving

3. Be mindful of water consumption

Water is a precious natural resource needed for individual health, sanitation, agriculture, and more. Use only what you need to conserve our planet’s supply.

  • Limit your use of water when brushing teeth and shaving.
  • Take shorter showers and opt for showers over baths.
  • Run full loads of laundry and dishes.
  • Avoid over-watering your lawn. Consider using rain barrels to collect rainwater for landscaping use.
  • Repair leaks, which can waste.
  • Replace old appliances, like toilets and showerheads, to be more energy efficient.

4. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Preventing waste and reusing items are the most effective ways you can preserve natural resources and reduce pollution. Without reduction and reuse, new products requiring more raw materials and energy are produced while the old products end up in landfills.

As a consumer, you can make sustainable decisions like buying only what you need, purchasing second-hand, and buying products made with recycled materials. You may even consider renting or borrowing limited-occasion items like decorations, tools, and attire instead of buying them.

Once items have served their purpose or have worn out, consider repurposing them into something new, repairing them, or donating them for someone else to enjoy.

As a final resort, if items cannot be reduced or reused, recycling can help to keep them out of the trash. Be sure to familiarize yourself with what can be recycled in your area and how. Many communities will also have an Environmental Center to properly dispose of hazardous materials, electronics, appliances, mattresses, and other materials that typically are not part of local recycling programs.

5. Choose clean beauty products

Common issues with traditional cosmetics include waste, product contamination, and harmful ingredients. 'Clean' beauty products claim to prioritize more natural and eco-friendly ingredients, but it’s always smart to do your own research since the word 'clean' is not regulated. Look for statements on the label that indicate fair labor, renewable resources, sustainable harvesting, and similar, and consider products like toothpaste tablets, which use minimal or recyclable packaging.

6. Adopt a plant-based diet

Raising animals for food requires more land and water and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than growing plants. Therefore, adopting a plant-based diet is a strategy for positively impacting the planet.

  • Try reducing your overall portion sizes of animal proteins. Use meat as a side dish instead of the main course.
  • Make smaller portions of meat go further by adding black beans for taco recipes or mushrooms for pasta dishes.
  • Opt for meatless meals.
  • Experiment with recipes that use plant-based proteins like beans, nuts, seeds, lentils, or plant-based meat substitutes.

7. Support eco-friendly brands

Eco-friendly brands care about their carbon footprint and take steps during the manufacturing and delivery processes of their products to promote sustainability.

You can identify if a brand, whether for cosmetics, clothing, food, or other goods, is eco-friendly by researching its values and practices and paying attention to labels. Certifications such as the following can be good indicators of eco-friendly practices:

  • Certified B Corporation
  • Fair trade
  • Leaping Bunny
  • USDA Organic
  • Rainforest Alliance
  • OEKO-TEX
  • Climate Neutral
  • Energy Star

8. Practice mindfulness and meditation

Take a minute to reflect on your personal impact on the plant and appreciate all that the Earth provides. Not only will this mindfulness foster more awareness, but it may prompt a new sense of purpose and dedication to protecting our world. Practicing relaxation techniques that focus on the present can also be a great strategy to overcome any eco-anxiety.

9. Engage in outdoor activities

Extensive research supports a connection between nature exposure and improved mental and physical health. By spending time outdoors this Earth Day, you are celebrating all that nature has to provide. Go for a run, visit a national park, or consider doing something that simultaneously supports the environment like planting a tree, picking up litter, or converting a portion of your yard into a habitat for pollinators.

10. Educate yourself and others

Awareness and learning are great steps to creating a more educated and caring population for the planet. EarthDay.org and the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, website have some great resources for education. Investigate new ideas for yourself, and be sure to share what you’ve learned with others.

By adopting one or a few of these practices now and into the future, you can help promote a positive change for our world on Earth Day and beyond.

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