Earth Week 2020 will certainly go down as one of the most memorable in our lifetime. I’m pretty bummed to be stuck at home for the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day! And while I am not going to sugar coat any of the hardships we are all facing from the COVID-19 pandemic (it really really sucks!), I do want to acknowledge one silver lining: a needed pause for our planet and a restoration for our environment.
It’s no secret that we humans consume the majority of earth’s precious resources. There has been significant impact to our plants and animal species due to human activity and some argue that Mother Earth is fed up and trying hard to teach us some lessons (think increased levels in natural disasters, like flooding, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes). Whether you agree with climate change theories and a cause and effect relationship from human activity, there is no denying that our air is more polluted, our water is more contaminated, our food supply has been drastically degraded due to heavy use of glyphosate (RoundUp) and other pesticides, and many of our health issues are in fact a result of environmental toxicity.
The current Coronovirus pandemic has shed light on many things, and one is on the intensity of which our global community operates and its effect on our environment. Within just a few weeks since our stay-at-home mandate went worldwide, reports show significant decreases in air pollution is some of the world’s smoggiest places, including Beijing, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Milan, and Brussels…to name a few. Some countries have already reported clearer water in rivers, canals, and oceans. And some areas have seen wildlife in places they have never ventured before (such as urban areas), as if they have come out of years of hiding. While this may bring some peace of mind to the eco-enthusiasts, many scientists warn that this shift is temporary, and we may see huge surges the opposite direction once the economy is back in business and companies push to make up for economic losses these past couple months (or more, if this continues past May 2020).
And while I have long subscribed to the “Earth Day Every Day” motto, bringing light to our need to live in balance with Mother Earth during Earth Week always feels like a worthwhile effort. Especially given ALL that is happening in the world right now. I would not be the person I am today without my early-in-life concerns about the environment and a desire to truly understand how connected all living things are. As a health coach, I care not only about ensuring people are creating a lifestyle that promotes wellness for themselves, but also for the planet.
There is even more reason to up your environmental awareness these days, because our protections are increasingly getting repealed:
Despite the all the scary things happening – many of them under the radar – there is still a lot we can do to help protect our environment, and ultimately ourselves. If the planet remains sick, then so will we. So it’s important we examine how our choices impact the health of the planet and in turn, all its people. See my top tips for supporting a healthier environment and a healthier you below!
(1) Help Curb Plastic Pollution.
Plastic bags: We use 5 trillion plastic bags…per year! That’s 160,000 a second! And over 700 a year for every person on the planet. Now I realize many of you are super eco-conscious and probably take your own bags to the store already. So bravo if that is the case. If you don’t regularly take your own bags, get hip to this action. Seriously, saving the planet is cool.
Reusable water bottles: If you haven’t invested in a reusable water bottle and regularly buy plastic water bottles to stay hydrated, then we probably can’t be friends. Only kind of joking. For real though, ditch the plastic water bottle. It’s bad for you and the planet. Don’t even get me started on the leaching of plastic into your water, that you drink, and then it settles into your BODY, possibly hanging out there in your fat tissue for who knows how long, disrupting your endocrine system or hormones, or simply preventing you from losing weight. Should I continue? One in four fish contain plastic. Globally, humans buy roughly 1 million plastic bottles per minute. Why???? There are endless reusable water bottle options and they are so worth the investment. We never leave home without ours. And yes I am that annoying mom that makes my kids travel with theirs and searches for the water fill up station as soon as we get through security at the airport. You know why? Saving the planet is COOL! These are some of my family’s favorite resuable water bottles: Hydroflask, Swell, Yeti
Reusable straws: If you are a farmer’s market junkie like we are then you have probably also crossed path with the local vendor selling pretty metal straws in eco-chic bags to make you feel all warm and eco-fuzzy! If you haven’t made this purchase then Kleen Kanteen is here to help with their stainless steel set that even comes with a cleaning tool!
Zero Waste Lunch: Whether packing for yourself or your kiddos, creating a zero waste lunch is easier than it seems. There are tons of options for reusable containers, lunch bags, even snack bags. Kind Humans recently launched their kid’s combo for a ZWL. Check out their sustainable goods HERE.
Buy larger bottles of frequently used bath and beauty products, get refillables. The average family uses about 12 plastic bottles a month for shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and other household products. That’s 144 bottles a year. There are so many ways to make easy changes here. Dish soap: check out Method’s refill packs for your dispenser. Biokleen also has a large container of dish soap you reduce your plastic consumption significantly, and the soap is biodegradable.
(2) Be an Eco-Conscious Consumer
For years I have used Environmental Working Group’s website as a go-to hub for finding safe products and understanding the biggest environmental threats to our food supply and personal heath products. If you want to protect your health through your purchasing power, then start with their numerous resource guides:
- Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce Find out what fruits and veggies are on the Clean 15 list and which are on the Dirty Dozen
- Guide to Safe Sunscreen (your sunscreen could be causing more harm than good if it has certain toxic ingredients)
- Healthy Home Guide (Indoor air pollution can cause a ton of health problems. Candles, carpets, curtains, and a host of other household products could be contaminating your home. Yes, I know I did a “c” thing there. I do that stuff!
- Skindeep Guide to Safe BeautyFind out if your Beauty products are keeping your looking good on the outside and inside. Plus – get the EWG Covid-19 Guide to avoiding the coronavirus the Clean Way (Hint: there is no bleach involved).
(3) Grow Your Own Food
As I mentioned before, our food quality has declined tremendously in the last century. You would need to eat roughly 26 apples today to equal the same nutrient value as one a hundred years ago. Our produce often travels long distances and loses much of its nutrition before it even enters our mouth. It’s also hard to really know how it was grown and whether it is free of pesticides, even if it has an organic label. The best way to control our food supply is to grow our own. And it’s easier than you think. Becoming an urban farmer is one of the things I am most proud of, for a few reasons:
- I’m a lazy gardener.
- I love the idea of having my own fresh produce but I don’t want it to be labor intensive.
- I like things that look pretty.
- My kids eat veggies and greens they never did when I just put it on their plate. Not they eat straight of my Tower and even help me grow our food.
My preferred urban farming tool is the Tower Garden. Tower Gardens are vertical aeroponic growing systems that allow you to grow plants with an air or mist environment, without the use of soil. It is the most effective and efficient way to provide plants with the necessary nutrients, hydration and oxygen. They grow up 20-32 plants at one time (even more with an extension kit and can be used indoors or outdoors. They are incredibly sustainable, using 90% less water than traditional gardening, and grow up to 3 times faster. I can typically harvest a full head of lettuce within about 6-8 weeks of planting a new seedling.
I could go on and on with tips for living more lightly on the planet and working to find balance with Mother Earth, but I just like you I get info-overload, so I will stop right here. I simply encourage you to consider one practice above if anything is new to you. And as we come out of this very weird pandemic that has been incredible hard on us all, consider keeping some mindfulness around your day-to-day action and how you can support a healthier you and planet!
Happy Elevated Earth Day!