22 Environmental Things to Do for Earth Day (and Every Day)

Earth

Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson.  (Photo credit: Loskutnikov/Shutterstock)

April 22 marks the 47th annual celebration of Earth Day. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin founded Earth Day in 1970 to bring environmental issues to the top of the national agenda. Until then, there were little to no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment.

Later that year, President Richard Nixon called for the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. On December 4, 1970, William Ruckelshaus was sworn in as the agency’s first administrator. A growing interest in protecting the nation’s air and water led to the enactment of the Clean Air Act in 1970 and the Clean Water Act in 1972.

In the 47 years since the first Earth Day, much has changed in the way that environmental issues are handled in the United States and other countries around the world. However, as the human population continues to grow, Earth’s resources will continue to be depleted. Living sustainably — that is, living in a way such that human needs are met while protecting Earth’s resources, so that a human population can survive indefinitely — is key to the long-term survival of human life on Earth. Following are 20 eco-friendly tips to help you reduce your impact on the environment.

1. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth or lather up with soap. According to the EPA, you can save up to 8 gallons of water every day just by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth twice a day.

2. Instead of packing your lunch in a brown bag, use a reusable lunch bag.

3. Rather than using plastic or paper bags, bring your own bags to the store, or forego a bag altogether if your purchase is small.

4. Carpool, walk, or bike to school if possible.

5. Call, email, or write a letter to your elected representatives about an environmental issue that is important to you or affects the area where you live.

6. Use public transportation when available.

7. Ask for eTickets rather than paper tickets.

8. Recycle paper, plastic, and glass items rather than throwing them in the garbage.

9. Compost your food waste.

10. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about an environmental topic that is important to you.

11. Participate in an adopt-the-roadway program to clean up trash in your city or neighborhood.

12. Whenever possible, only run the dishwasher or laundry machine when there is a full load.

13. Wash your laundry in cold water.

14. Air dry your clothing and linens.

15. Buy items secondhand or host a swap with friends.

16. Use rechargeable batteries and recycle alkaline batteries rather than throwing them in the trash.

17. Volunteer with an organization that supports an environmental issue that you are passionate about.

18. Avoid using disposable utensils or dishes.

19. Make old t-shirts into cleaning rags.

20. When you declutter or clean out your closets, donate items rather than throwing them in the trash.

21. Write an email to your legislator about an environmental issue that is important to you.

22. Spend time outside in the fresh air.

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