On March 30th at 8:30PM local time, millions of people around the world will be switching off their lights for a cause: Earth Hour. Earth Hour is about collective action to address the most pressing environmental issues of our time. But at 9:30PM, the lights will come back on, and we’ll be left with an important question: what can we do beyond the hour? How do we make every hour Earth Hour? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Swap out the lawn for wildflowers
Enjoying a lush, green lawn of grass can be truly satisfying, but turfgrass lawns are a considerable source of pollution and do little to improve the natural environment of an urban area. Removing even just a portion of your lawn to plant native wildflowers can have an enormously positive impact on urban wildlife, like birds and pollinators. Check out this list of 10 of the best flowers to plant for bees!
Use your car wisely
It’d be easy for us to make this bullet point “go car free,” but it’s certainly easier said than done. In many places, it can be difficult to go car free. Let’s skip the lofty goal of losing the car entirely and instead talk about using your car more wisely. This means walking and biking more, making sure your tires are properly inflated, and reducing the weight your car carries by clearing out unnecessary items. Each of these actions will make your use of fuel more efficient and reduce wear and tear on your vehicle, helping it last longer.
Be conscious of water and power use at home
Changes to behavior are difficult, that’s one of the reasons that efficiency has moved to the forefront of environmental action. The great thing about efficient lightbulbs, faucet adapters, and showerheads is that you don’t need to sacrifice to make a difference. You can continue to use as you have been, but by default, you’re using these resources more wisely. This is a great starting point on your eco-conscious journey.
Plant a tree
Urban trees are of vital importance to happy people and a healthy ecosystem. Trees provide shelter to urban wildlife, reduce city temperatures in the summer, clean the air, prevent damaging storm water runoff, and from are great from a financial standpoint too as mature trees improve property values. With spring in full swing, maybe it’s time to think about planting a tree in your yard! Need some inspiration? Here are 10 of the fastest growing shade trees to consider planting.
Make nature your gym
In the US alone, there are more than 60 million active gym memberships. That’s a lot of people pumping iron! But are gyms really all that eco friendly? There’s the carbon footprint of driving to the gym if you don’t live close to it, then the impact of the gym itself to consider as well. Maybe instead, you can make nature your gym! Not sure where to get started? We’ve got some suggestions for you.
Say no to single use plastics
From plastic straws to bottled drinks to plastic shopping bags, the world’s ecosystems are being choked by our addiction to single-use plastics. Major governments around the world have taken to banning some of these single-use plastics, but ultimately it’s up to each of us to say no to wasteful plastics in our day to day lives. Bring a reusable utensil to restaurants, pack your own cloth shopping bags, and always recycle your plastics.
Rethink your refuse
The great thing about modern waste removal is that you can toss your junk in a bin and never have to think about it again. But remember, when you throw something away, there really is no ‘away.’ It has to go somewhere. When the time comes to toss something, ask yourself: can it be repurposed? Donated? Recycled? Composted? Given away? If the answer to any of these are yes, don’t toss it! Make the eco conscious choice instead.
Clean up litter
Go anywhere in the world and you’ll probably find the mark of human activity in the form of improperly discarded waste. The world’s beaches are often an especially sad sight to behold. Waste that ends up in the oceans is sometimes casually tossed back ashore, mimicking the cavalier attitude we’ve had toward putting trash in the ocean in the first place. But you can begin striking back at global pollution by cleaning up litter in your own neighborhood. Every little bit helps! Need some more inspiration? Here’s 10 reasons you should organize a beach cleanup!
Vote for the Earth
Civic action is one of the ways you can have a direct impact on environmental policy. When voting time comes around, take special care to research environmental ballot initiatives and where the candidates running for office stand on environmental issues. It all starts with a few concerned citizens coming together to change the world for the better.
Spend time in nature
At the end of the day, it’s important to remind yourself what it is that you’re working so hard to protect. People that spend time in nature are more likely to want to make environmentally conscious choices. Maybe instead of going out for drinks this weekend, organize a nature walk with your friends and family. Get outside. Unplug. Enjoy the beauty the world has to offer.