I like to say that Earth Day is every day. The well-being of our planet should be at the forefront of our minds not just one day a year, but 365. However, I do appreciate the effect Earth Day has on people—it’s a chance to step back, look around, and rethink the way you live your life. This Earth Day, I’m analyzing my daily routine. I want to dissect my everyday activities to see what I’m doing well and how I can be kinder to Mother Earth.
It's the little things that count; make small changes in your lifestyle this Earth Day and try to stick with them all year round. Photo By Katarina 2353/Courtesy Flickr.
I wake up in the morning to my phone alarm (which always seems to go off way too early). I try to make sure that my charger is only plugged in when my phone really needs to be charged to avoid a pointless drain of energy. Even when my phone isn’t charging, my plugged-in phone charged is sucking energy out of the wall just waiting for me to plug it in. “Vampire electronics” are electronics that are turned off but still drain energy. From TVs to toasters, as long as something is plugged in, it’s using energy. Though I don’t have one in my room, a power strip can make it easier to cut the energy drain of electronics.
Next I hop in the shower, which I try to keep short. Cutting an additional one or two minutes off my shower time, though, could save up to 150 gallons of water a month!
I’m in zombie mode until I get my coffee. I buy Fair Trade from our local natural food grocery store, so I don’t feel as guilty about sipping on my cup of joe knowing that coffee growers are fairly compensated for their products.
Getting to class in the morning is easy—my house is only a 15-20 minute walk from anywhere I need to go on campus. Even though it would be about a 3-minute car ride, turning on my engine, even for such a short drive, would have a big impact. Cars put out more pollutants when engines are cold and need to warm up, so short trips would be a total waste! Plus, when the weather is nice and the birds are singing, walking down the tree-lines streets in my neighborhood is the best part of my day.
When I’m not interning at Natural Home, I’m on campus all day. I do my best to plan meals a day ahead of time so I have something to take with me for lunch, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes my lunchtime choices are limited to the heavily packaged sushi and sandwiches offered at my university. I’m also sometimes guilty of grabbing a frozen dinner from my freezer if I’m really running late. But food packaging accounts for two-thirds of the total packaging waste in the U.S. Waking up a few minutes early to avoid throwing away an extra plastic container is more than worth it.
When I’m finished with class and work, I go for a run (if I’m feeling energetic). I was surprised to learn just how much energy I used running at my student recreation center—just 30 minutes on a treadmill releases two pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere! Now that nice weather invites me to jog outside, I have a clearer conscience knowing the footprints I leave behind have nothing to do with carbon.
From there, my evening routines vary. But at some point, my nights will inevitably involve homework—and lots of it. Most of my classes involve extensive use of the Internet, so when I’m home, my computer is nearly always on. Though this does use up energy, my laptop uses much less energy than a desktop computer—about half as much!
When I reflect on my daily routine, I see positives and negatives in how my actions affect the Earth. I walk to school, but still drive around town when walking or biking would be a much better option. I try to cut down on the “vampire” effects of my electronics, but sometimes forget to turn off my computer. I know I won’t be living off-the-grid anytime soon, but I also know I can make my actions have less of an impact.
What activities can you green in your daily routine? Leave me a comment below and share your thoughts and ideas. Happy Earth Day!