Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a global day of recognition designed to help people care for – and take care of – the environment. Across the world, 190 countries recognize Earth Day (there are only five that don’t) and over a billion people participate by planting trees, cleaning up litter, and donating to charitable causes.
This year, of course, is different.
Although people can’t really go outside to pick up trash this year, that doesn’t mean that the force of Earth Day must be blunted. There are plenty of ways that people can celebrate and help the environment while remaining safe and healthy. For example, you can celebrate Earth Day with your family by making a bird feeder, upcycling old clothes into homemade face masks, or ordering seeds online and planting a bee garden.
However, Earth Day isn’t just a day that you celebrate once and then forget about. It’s a reminder to change your personal behavior in order to help save the environment for the long term. Here are a few great ways to both stay in lockdown and help the environment year-round.
1. Stay at Home
You were already staying safe at home to begin with, and it turns out that this is measurably helping the planet. Because people are taking fewer trips in their cars, we are seeing decreased air pollution in many areas around the world. NASA estimates air pollution is now down 30 percent across the Northeast. Although this clearly comes at a high cost, it’s worth reexamining your driving habits once lockdown is lifted. If people can continue to work from home when possible and minimize trips in their cars, then the reward is a better world.
2. Purchase Renewable Energy Credits
Many people have put their plans to go solar on pause during lockdown, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offset your fossil fuel consumption. Purchasing Renewable Energy Credits means that a certain percentage of your home electricity must come from wind, solar, or other renewable energy sources. What’s more, you can most likely purchase these credits though a Green Power Program offered by your utility.
3. Invest in Better Appliances
That dusty fridge that came with your house – the one that’s a refugee from the early 90s – is no longer pulling its weight in terms of energy efficiency. Replacing old and inefficient appliances will do more than just spruce up your kitchen – they’ll have a positive effect both on the environment and on your pocketbook. Buying an Energy Star washing, machine, for example, can save you up to $415 over an average 11-year lifespan, which is a great return on investment.
4. Brighten Your Home with Efficient Bulbs
If a new appliance isn’t in the budget, energy-efficient bulbs are a much more achievable purchase. New energy-efficient bulbs are good enough that you won’t notice a difference in lighting quality compared to incandescent, and the savings can be tremendous. Energy-efficient bulbs can use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional bulbs, and can last up to 25 times longer, making them a worthy choice for your Earth Day project.
5. Responsibly Recycle Old Electronics
We all have some old electronics lying around that we don’t know how to get rid of – things like broken game consoles, ancient flatscreens, or your iPod Nano from 2006. If you aren’t quite sure what to do with these things, they might just end up in the dump – but a landfill is not the place for them. Even obsolete electronics still have usable components, and e-waste can leach toxic chemicals into a landfill’s environment. Many communities have electronic collection days where you can drop off your old electronics. These items are then sent to a certified R2 recycler. These recyclers understand how to recycle old electronics so that almost every part gets reused or resold in some way, ensuring that almost none of their components end up inside a landfill.
6. Remember to Trade-in Your Old Phone!
If you’re currently in the market for a new phone, don’t forget to trade-in your old one. Trading in your old phone can usually net you a significant discount on a new device, or it can help you purchase new accessories. What’s more, your old phone will likely undergo three or four more lives in the secondary device market, allowing people in developing communities to enjoy the benefits of connectivity.
Even if you think your old phone is too out of date to be of much use to anyone, it’s still important to keep your phone out of the landfill. Doing so allows us to recover thousands of tons of copper and hundreds of pounds of precious metals that would otherwise be mined out of the earth. Instead of using up non-renewable resources, your trade-in can help bring about a greener planet – all without requiring you to leave your home.
Here at HYLA, we facilitate the trade-in programs that help keep your phone out of the landfill while getting you a better deal on your new device. Since 2009, we’ve helped place $8.4 billion back in the hands of consumers while diverting almost 27 million pounds of e-waste away from landfills. If you’d like to learn more about how we help save the environment, check out our Earth Day infographic today!