Earth Day 2017 is coming up fast. And as much as we love it, we shouldn’t just think about the planet’s health for a single day but rather try to reduce our harm every day. From the obvious to the inventive ones, from large lifestyle changes to small steps that anybody can take, we came up with 50 things you can do for a cleaner, greener planet.
Due to the length of the list, we have divided it into three parts:
1 | Food & Groceries
2 | Fashion & Beauty
3 | Transportation & Travel
PS: the lists are sorted by impact, starting with the highest and ending with the lowest.
Part 1 | Food & Groceries
1 | Grow your own veggies or herbs
If you have a yard, patio or balcony, you can certainly grow some of your own veggies. Lettuce, kale or spinach are some of the veggies that are very easy to grow. Even indoors, you can successfully grow your own herbs like basil, mint or thyme. Have a look at this comprehensive and easy guide to get started.
What to buy
2 | Buy local produce
A lot of the food we buy travels many many miles to end up in our supermarkets. While some of them can’t be grown in Canada due to the climate, many local alternatives exist. Look for locally grown quinoa, pulses and of course seasonal fruits and veggies.
3 | Buy what’s in season
This kind of goes hand in hand with buying local products. Maybe we don’t need strawberries all year long? We certainly think they taste best in the spring and summer when they grow right here.
4 | Buy less animal-based products
The production of meat and dairy products takes a lot of resources, pollutes the planet and destroys natural habitats. While we understand that not everybody wants to go 100% plant-based, we certainly think people should be aware of the consequences and reduce their consumption. Even if it’s just for #MeatfreeMondays.
5 | Buy organic
Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides. It’s not only better for your health but also for the planet’s health. If you feel that you can’t afford to buy everything organic, start with the “Dirty Dozen”. Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of the produce with the highest pesticide load. Try to buy at least those organic.
6 | Buy Fair Trade
Fairtrade produce is not only providing farm workers with fair wages, the fair trade regulations also include strict environmental standards to reduce the use of harmful chemicals. They also absolutely prohibit the use of GMOs.
7 | Buy GMO-free
GMOs are definitely a hot topic. The biggest problem is that we don’t fully know their effect on our health and the environment yet. And even if GMO crops turn out to be safe, the increased use of pesticides that goes along with them has a detrimental effect on our health (think cancer rates) and the environment (think biodiversity).
8 | Buy in bulk
Avoid excessive packaging by buying in bulk. Some stores even let you bring your own containers. Bulk Burn is an obvious choice but even regular supermarkets have bulk sections.
9 | Buy less water intensive produce such as almonds
Some things require more water to grow than others. Almonds, chocolate, and avocados are some of the worst offenders. Maybe it’s time to start seeing them as a treat instead of making them an everyday thing.
10 | Buy things in glass bottles instead of plastic
From water bottles to condiments, try to grab things that come in glass bottles rather than plastic ones. Plastics can not only contain harmful ingredients, they’re also almost always made from fossil fuels. Glass on the other hand usually includes recycled materials and can be recycled again after use.
Where to buy
11 | Buy at farmer’s markets
One of the best options for fresh, local produce is at a farmer’s market. Many of them are even open year-round. For us, it’s a perfect Saturday morning activity, especially in the summer.
12 | Buy at a farm or country store
If you live outside the city, you can check out the farmers directly. Many of them have country stores and sell produce from surrounding farms.
13 | Buy at a Co-Op supermarket
Food Co-Ops are great community supermarkets. They often focus on products that are made locally or within a 100-mile radius and help you to keep the food miles down. Check out this store locator to find a local food co-op if you live in Ontario or simply google it.
14 | Buy at a health food store
You will find a large selection of natural, less processed foods and specialty foods such as vegan or gluten-free alternatives there. A lot of their stuff can’t be found at regular supermarkets.
15 | Get a local food box
The perfect option for those who like surprises and want to save time. Get a box of local produce delivered to your door and get cooking.
Helpful tips & resources
16 | Bring your own grocery bags
Our oceans are full of plastic. Just keep at least one reusable bag in your bag (or car) and avoid those flimsy little plastic bags. If you do use them, make sure your store uses biodegradable plastic bags.
17 | Bring a water bottle
Shopping always makes us thirsty. And usually, we grab one of those chilled plastic water bottles to quench our thirst. Make carrying a reusable water bottle with you a habit, and fill it up at the free water fountains you can find everywhere.
18 | Use the Non-GMO project app
The official app of the Non-GMO project helps you identify GMO foods. Simply scan the barcode to find out.
19 | Use the Dirty Dozen app
Use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen app to find out which foods have the biggest pesticides load (Dirty Dozen) and which ones are the cleanest (Clean 15). The app also gives you a breakdown of what pesticides are used and what they do (scary).
20 | Use the EWG’s Healthy Living app
Find out about the health and safety ratings of the product you’re about to buy. Simply search or scan, the database contains more than 200,000 products.
21 | Use the Happy Cow app
The Happy Cow app is a great resource to find vegetarian and vegan restaurants in your area. You can also use it though to find health food stores close to you.
Resources: Green Greener Greenest by Lori Bongiorno & The Greenpeace Living Guide