Everyday Earth Day Tips


Every year since 1970, people have mobilised to protect the environment under the banner of Earth Day. But taking care of the environment is not something that can be done just once or twice a year. Fortunately, there are some simple Earth Day tips that can easily become a part of your routine.

Today, I’m sharing the three daily actions I do to stay green.

#1 Reuse Plastic Bags and Glass Jars

There’s seldom any need to buy new when it comes to kitchen storage. I love using coffee jars to store grains and beans. My particular favourite is the little Black Cat peanut butter jars which hold everything from sunflower seeds to cat treats. They make an ideal pen holder for a minimalist aesthetic, too. In fact, we have half a cupboard full of jars waiting to be used — that’s how much I love this Earth Day tip!

Most plastic bags we get at the shop today are made of partly recycled material. However, they’re still made of plastic and won’t biodegrade.  It’s super important to get the best use out of them so that fewer plastic bags are needed. I reuse them for room bin liners.

#2 Choose Biodegradable Cleaning Products

As we use cleaning products every day, this is another great area to try an Earth Day tip. Conventional detergents often contain chemicals which pollute water supply and are consumed at various stages of the food chain.

Biodegradable cleaning products which are made from natural materials are also a lot gentler on the skin. I used to think it was weird that I hated the way washing up made my skin feel; when I began using Earthsap dishwashing liquid, washing up became a lot more bearable.

It’s not necessary to buy eco-friendly cleaning products in South Africa, either. Many of us will be familiar with old housewives’ homemade window cleaners involving vinegar; there are many other simple DIY recipes that you can use for practically everything.

#3 Recycle at Home

Once you get into the habit, recycling is not hard. You have to wash off food particles but a lot of the plastic packaging we get remains crystal clean. This is a really rewarding way of being an active citizen since you cannot just how much impact your actions have when you see all the waste you’ve managed to divert from landfills!

Depending on where you live, it may be harder to get rid of the recycling once you’ve done it. Some suburbs get it picked up along with ordinary waste. In other cases, you have to drop it off at a depot nearby: try the local school. 

Another great solution is to use a paid recycling service since this also supports jobs. A company like Regenize in Cape Town charges R65 per month to collect every second week from a house in the Southern Suburbs. They also offer rewards. If you live in a complex, you may be able to petition your body corporate to cover this in the building levy. 

Use These Earth Day Tips Every Day

Implementing these Earth Day actions is like any other habit. There’s a bit of a challenge involved but this can be overcome with small steps and a change in mindset. The personal rewards – self-sufficiency, creativity, gratification – as well as the environmental impact, are well worth it.

Jenna Solomon

Jenna is a journalism, African studies and social development graduate. She writes about active citizenship and lifestyle in South Africa.

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