Earth Day: Honoring Our Planet
Photo: Crafterall on Flickr
At a time when climate change is affecting all corners of the world – from increased habitat loss to extreme weather and dwindling resources – it is more important than ever to promote sustainable development and conservation. This is at the core of Earth Day, celebrated every year, on April 22. Yet, this event stretches beyond these 24-hours – “It’s Not A Day, It’s A Movement,” – a motto from Earth Day.
How did it all begin?
Held in 1970, the first Earth Day marked the beginning of increased awareness surrounding climate change and the human activities fueling it. Following a major oil spill the year before in Santa Barbara, California, Senator Gaylord Nelson and activist Denis Hayes marked history by initiating the first Earth Day through organizing campus lectures at universities.
What does it mean this year?
The theme for 2022 is Invest in Our Planet; accordingly, the hashtag #InvestInOurPlanet is being used in anticipation of the day. Yet, once again, Earth Day is not just about raising awareness on the 22nd of April but year-round. In light of this, there are many practices you can adopt to live a more informed and sustainable life.
What Else Can I Do?
There are plenty of ways to celebrate Earth Day – from raising awareness to promoting sustainable practices. Continuing this year-round will increase your impact, a mission of Go Beyond the Hour. Below are the main takeaways (and more) from this initiative.
- Limit Waste
Whether food or clothes, regulating your consumption is a considerable part of living sustainably; changing your lifestyle is more a shift in your mindset than actions – if you lose sight of the first part, the second can’t follow. That is where sustainable thinking models such as the 3 R’s many of us are familiar with – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – come in handy.
- The amount of food you waste (especially when dining out – by saving leftovers [best if you can use a reusable container to do so])
- The amount of clothing you buy (especially from fast-fashion brands) – more on that below
- The number of disposable products you buy
- Clothing: repurpose/alter items with the potential to be worn more
- Gift wrapping like ribbons, wrapping paper, etc.
- Disposable products that are in good condition
- Compost appropriate food scraps either at home or in community centers; here is a guide to composting
- (Uncontaminated) disposable products; for more guidance on this, check out this previous article on recycling
- Consume Consciously
We are all daily consumers – the brands we support influence trends, shaping our future. For this reason, making conscious decisions when buying products is imperative. Here are some things to consider on your next shopping trip:
- Buy local whenever possible – Not only will buying local produce save you money, but it will also support local economies and lessen the global carbon footprint.
- Buy in-season – Peaches during the winter? It seems too good to be true – in some ways, it is. Although commonplace in Dubai, buying fruits and vegetables off-season signals long shipping routes; this produce is likely never local.
- Say no to fast fashion – Familiarizing yourself with unsustainable brands and slowly introducing alternatives can make a notable difference. Using corporations like Good on You can help you filter through many of your favorite brands and discover new ones.
- Opt for cruelty-free, vegan makeup and skincare brands – While not all cruelty-free brands are vegans, many of their products are.
- Quit palm oil – or switch to sustainably harvested palm oil – This versatile, practical, and cheap oil is in almost half of the packaged (edible and non-edible) products commonly found in supermarkets. Driving deforestation and releasing millions of tonnes of greenhouse gasses, its production is highly unsustainable. Before your next grocery trip, check whether the brands you are currently buying from use unsustainably sourced palm oil. When seeking new products, either do prior research or read labels. Look for The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification if a product does contain palm oil.
2. Be Informed and Inform
Learning never ends – neither does the plight to live more sustainably. So, do your research: read books, watch podcasts, follow activists on social media. Then, inform others. While change needs to happen at the government level, consumers have the power to demand this change by using their voices.
In short, Earth Day goes beyond a day of practicing earth friendly initiatives; it is about promoting sustainable practices that can be implemented in everyday life.
- https://www.epa.gov/history/epa-history-earth-day#:~:text=The%20First%20Earth%20Day%20in%20April%201970&text=Because%20there%20was%20no%20 EPA,issue%20into%20the%20national%20agenda.