I like Earth Day - kind of. I like how it promotes green living and encourages schools to focus on the environment each April, but I also have some major issues with how Earth Day has been so commercialized in recent years. I've seen some of the worst products ever related to Earth Day, like T-shirts, made from conventional cotton, toxic Earth Day glow sticks, posters printed on virgin paper and fast food companies promoting their food under the Earth Day umbrella. It's enough greenwashing to make you sick, which is what it does to me pretty much every April. If you really want to celebrate Earth Day (April 22nd) by purchasing products, be my guest, but be sure to purchase reusable and recyclable products that honestly show you care for the planet. Here are 6 ways to avoid Earth Day greenwashing and incorporate meaningful eco-conscious resolutions into your lifestyle.
Reusable Water Bottles
Not only can bottled water for the whole family cost more than gasoline, but all those plastic bottles are trashing the earth. Even though plastic water bottles (made with oil, a non-renewable resource) are fully recyclable, only about 27% of people recycle them so the bottles sit in a landfill for eons. Plus, let’s not forget all the BPA exposure. To really make a difference this Earth Day and beyond, pick up some reusable, refillable water bottles for the entire family.
Reusable Lunch Gear
School lunch waste is totally out of control. It has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year – that’s a whopping 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school. Now add in all the waste created by parents buying lunch out while at work and this trash situation looks even worse. Plus, look at it this way, a reusable lunch kit (with food) can save you $246.60 a year per family member over what it costs to buy a lunch and frankly, bought lunches aren’t that healthy anyhow. Picking up a reusable lunch kit for each family member is an excellent way to show you seriously care about the earth.
Reusable Grocery Bags
Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide and most of them end up places they shouldn’t, which is too bad since a single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. There are dozens of reasons to ditch plastic and buy a nice set of organic cotton reusable grocery bags, but here are a few key issues to consider courtesy of reuseit…
- Only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled (BBC).
- Plastic bags are the second-most common type of ocean refuse, after cigarette butts (2008) and every square mile of ocean has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.
- An estimated 3,960,000 tons of plastic bags, sack and wraps were produced in 2008. Of those, 3,570,000 tons (90%) were discarded right into the landfill.
A really nice, very reusable set of cotton grocery bags can be used over and over until you turn them into cleaning rags. That’s the perfect Earth Day product to invest in!
Buying a bunch of cleaning cloths may not seem like as much fun as an Earth Day T-shirt, but it has a huge impact and saves you money too. Paper towels suck – and I don’t mean they suck water. State of the Paper Industry report by the Environmental Paper Network notes that the pulp and paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Paper products, like paper towels are also a leading cause of freshwater wetland loss and are highly responsible for the release of persistent toxic pollutants into the environment. Paper towels also can’t easily be recycled, and in fact, although most paper is recyclable, it currently accounts for 25% of landfill waste plus a full third of municipal landfill waste. This Earth Day, do yourself and the planet a favor and buy some nice reusable cleaning towels and start making a difference.
Cloth diapers are more than just cozy soft against your baby’s skin. Cloth diapers, especially organic cloth diapers, are free of common chemicals found in disposable diapers and save you tons of money. Plus, from an eco-minded standpoint, cloth diapers can be used over and over until they’re basically cleaning rags, while disposable diapers trash landfills like almost nothing else (over 92% of all disposable diapers end up in a landfill). Also, many companies make Earth Day inspired diapers which helps feed your craving for Earth Day related products – only in a useful way. Oh yeah and if you really want to rock this reusable baby gear game, try making your own reusable cloth baby wipe kit too.
- Earth Day diapers
- Video – How to Get Started with Cloth Diapers
- 7 Helpful Products To Make Cloth Diapering A Success
- 5 Eco-Friendly Training Pants for Kids Learning to Use the Potty
Become a Member of the Arbor Day Foundation
Becoming a member of the Arbor Day Foundation is an investment that keeps on giving and yes, there’s a product involved. When you join up, the Arbor Day Foundation will send you 10 trees that grow well where you live that you can plant in your yard or you can have 10 trees planted in a forest in need. Earth Day is all about helping conserve the planet, and when you support the Arbor Day Foundation, this is just what you’re doing. The Arbor Day Foundation is the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with over one million members, supporters, and valued partners, all of whom make a huge impact through conservation efforts and education programs. Also, let’s not forget how important trees are and learning how to plant trees is a great Earth Day activity for kids.