It goes without saying that every day should be Earth Day - with a climate emergency unfolding around the world, we need to do everything we can on a daily basis to minimise our impact on the planet as much as possible. To mark Earth Day this year, we’ve put together 6 simple ideas for things you can do to help protect the environment and create a better future for us all. One small thing you do might not feel like it’s making a difference, but imagine if all 7.6 billion people in the world did that same one thing? Reversing the climate emergency that humans have created is not something that will happen overnight, but it is a situation that could be brought under control. To do this, every single one of us must and can do something to help. First, here’s a brief history of Earth Day.
When is Earth Day 2021 and what is it about?
Since its launch in 1970, Earth Day has taken place on 22nd April each year. We may be in the midst of a global pandemic, but Earth Day is still taking place this year, albeit in a more virtual fashion. Although 22nd April is the official Earth Day, there are thousands of events, debates, forums and discussions centring around environmental issues taking place all week. The purpose of Earth Day is to bring urgently needed attention to the environmental disaster our planet is currently facing - from deforestation and plastic pollution, to air pollution and CO2 emissions. This year, President Joe Biden is also hosting a virtual, live streamed summit to put climate action at the centre of the conversation on a global level.
When was the first Earth Day?
The first ever Earth Day was started in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a US senator and environmental activist who was compelled to action after an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969. An incredible 20 million people joined a march in response, and with this, Earth Day was born. Initially, the event was much more US-centric, but in 1990, it was expanded to become a global campaign that involved leaders and environmental activists from around the world.
The theme of Earth Day this year is ‘Restore our Earth’. This choice of words shifts the focus of the conversation to what we can do to repair the damage that’s already been done. It’s no longer just about reducing our impact (although that’s still crucial, of course), but also about undoing what’s already been done.
How can you take part?There are endless numbers of events, seminars and conferences being held - most of which will be online this year. You can find out about the thousands of events with this handy map provided by Earth Day. Aside from immersing yourself in this year’s Earth Day events, we’ve also come up with 6 easy things you can do today to do your bit. These 5 things are by no means the answer to all our environmental problems, but they are things you can personally be responsible for doing today.
1. Pick up that piece of rubbish
If you can’t join one of the clean-up events being hosted for Earth Day, you can still do your bit. Instead of walking past that piece of rubbish on the street, pick it up (ideally with some gloves!) and put it in the bin. Sounds simple, but imagine if every single one of us did that - our streets would be litter-free.
2. Use a reusable shopping bag
Plastic bag use in the UK has thankfully started to decrease in the last few years, but there’s still work to be done, with over 100 billion plastic bags still being used each year globally. Invest in a couple of sturdy, long-life shopping bags and always keep them near your door so you don’t forget it on your way out. Of course, supermarkets have their own offering of ‘bags for life’, but if you’re looking for something a little more unique, we’ve recently discovered Herd Bags. These bold, beautifully designed reusable bags can be used for any occasion, from shopping to carrying around your personals on a day to day. Made of recycled materials, they offer a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative that you can use over and over again.
3. Say No To Plastic Water Bottles
Just like plastic bags, single-use plastic water bottles are still a chronic global problem that endangers wildlife and destroys our oceans and beaches. Invest in a reusable water bottle that can be cleaned out and used every day, and keep it in your bag wherever you go. We love Yuhme water bottles as a sustainable and environmentally friendly long-life alternative to a plastic bottle. Not only are these bottles reusable, they’re also made from 100% recycled materials, are CO2 negative in production, and are BPA and toxin free. What better way to keep yourself hydrated?
4. Use Reusable Masks
This isn’t just a plug for our masks. Go for any reusable mask that’s out there, but please, please think twice about using a single-use mask unless there’s a specific reason you need to (if you work in a hospital, for example). Unfortunately, the pandemic has exacerbated the chronic levels of discarded waste that surrounds us, and single-use PPE has been seen washed up on beaches and floating in the seas all over the world. Not only does this look awful, it also endangers wildlife who can get caught in mask straps. Our 4-layer reversible face masks [hyperlink to face mask collection] are reusable, washable and made from recycled plastic waste. Again, if every person in the UK were to not use a single-use mask today, that’d be 66.65 million fewer masks thrown in the bin at the end of the day.
5. Cut Down Meat Consumption
The process of producing meat industrially uses vast amounts of land and water. Particularly in South America, thousands of hectares of forest are cut down each year to make way for even more animals and meat farms. Not only does this destroy precious forests, it also causes billions of tonnes of CO2 to be released into the air. Meat production also uses much more water than vegetable production: to produce 1kg of vegetables, according to IME data, around 500 - 4000 litres of water are used, but to produce 1kg of meat, between 5000 and 20,000 litres of water is required. We challenge you to think about your meat consumption, and consider reducing the amount of meat (particularly red meat) that you eat on a weekly basis. As with all of this, you could start small and cut down your consumption by one day per week, then gradually increase your ‘days off’. Again, this sounds like a small step, but imagine if 7.6 billion people in the world all did the same thing.
6. Use a Reusable Coffee Cup
Over 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year. And in the UK, 2800 cups of coffee are consumed per person, per year. That’s a lot of paper cups that get thrown away within 5 minutes of use. Investing in a reusable coffee cup is a small but highly impactful way to reduce your personal consumption of disposable coffee cups. We love the fun, printed Frangipani 16oz reusable coffee cup from Polu made from bamboo fibres. Polu have also partnered with a nonprofit in Honolulu Hawaii that helps peoples with disabilities. Read more about their mission here.
If you know a little about Newt, you can understand why we are so supportive of Earth Day. We encourage you to educate yourself on the environmental issues we are all facing, and explore the vast range of Earth Day events on offer. Understanding how everyone has an impact on the environment is the first step to making a difference. By changing small habits first, we can all help to make a difference for future generations.
Visit the Earth Day website here
View our reusable face masks here