7 ways you can help protect the environment starting this Earth Day

To mark Earth Day, we have compiled a list of things we could do to bring about change for a better future for our planet.

A hand half-painted green, holding a leaf. Today is Earth Day.
Image: Alena Koval - Via Pexels

Today marks Earth Day, the annual event in support of environmental protection, a day for us all to reflect on the impact that human-led actions have on our planet. 

The discussion on the climate crisis has been going on for years now, as we witness the devastating consequences that it has not only on the environment but also on people’s livelihoods, especially of the most vulnerable.

Even though we are aware that a single person’s actions alone cannot be the solution to the problem and we need a much bigger shift in the system and how our whole economy works, we are not completely powerless. There are some things that we, as individuals, can do to join the fight against global warming and lead to the change our planet needs. 

If you wish to take some personal action to help protect the environment on this Earth Day, here is a list of things you can start with. 

Make your voice heard
First and foremost, what we need to do is make sure that the people who have the power to change the bigger picture actually do something about it. So at the next elections, vote for leaders who take the climate crisis seriously, talk to your members of parliament, local councillors and city mayors and urge them to take action. 

Because it is their decisions about the environment, industry, infrastructures, energy, recycling and air quality that have the real impact on our planet, they need to be held accountable and it is our right and duty to keep up the political pressure and have our voices heard.

If you want to do more, join a social movement or campaign that focuses on climate change actions, like One Future or Friends of the Earth. Also, start conversations. Talk about how you can bring about change with your friends and family and get them involved.

Are you an artist? Then you could also think about using your art to raise awareness of environmental issues. Many art activists are already doing that!

Reduce your energy use
Start small by changing your behaviour at home to use less energy, cut down your carbon footprint… and save money on bills all at the same time! Try to turn down the heating a bit by putting an extra layer on and turning off the lights and unplugging your devices when they are not in use.

If you want to take it a step further, switch to green tariffs for your energy supply and replace your light bulbs with low-energy lights.

Transform your transport
Even though a car is usually the easiest way to commute, leaving it at home and walking, cycling or even getting public transport instead is a good way to lower your greenhouse gas emissions. For longer journeys, you could consider taking a train or car-sharing schemes.

Also, cut back on flying. Whenever possible, choose a train instead and if flying is unavoidable, choose economy class, as on average the carbon footprint of a passenger in business class is three times higher.

Eat sustainably
Another way we as individuals can make a difference is through our behaviour as consumers. Because a substantial part of greenhouse gas emissions comes from raising livestock, if more people decided to avoid meat and dairy products in their diet the environmental impact on the planet would be quite beneficial (not to mention how it would also benefit our health!).

So try to eat more plant-based meals and reduce your consumption of meat, especially red meat. Another way to lower your food’s carbon footprint is to buy local and seasonal food, as it cuts down on emissions associated with transport and storage.

If you want to go even further, you could also consider growing your own fruit and veg. Don’t have the foggiest idea where to start? Read this article by Aoife O’Driscoll for a head-start.

Slow down your fashion
We all know by now how ‘fast fashion’ has created a culture that pushes people to constantly buy new clothes and throw them away after little use. If you want to help reverse this, try buying fewer clothes and wearing them longer. You could also seek out sustainable brands or shop second-hand.

Repair and reuse old clothes instead of throwing them away and if you really don’t want to keep an item anymore, choose to donate it to a charity or sell it. 

Cut waste
Did you know that one-third of all food produced in the world goes to waste? According to the Food Waste Index Report published by the UN Environmental Programme in 2021, we are wasting 1 billion tonnes of food each year. We obviously need to do better, so let’s avoid waste by only buying the food we need and trying to use every edible part of the products we purchase.

Also, avoid using single-use plastic objects and when shopping, be mindful of greenwashing – aka some brands’ tendency to “perform sustainability” and market themselves as environmentally friendly when, in fact, they are not.

Invest in our planet
#InvestInOurPlanet is this year’s theme for Earth Day. For more information on how to make your investments more ethical and planet-friendly, check out the Earth Day 2022 webpage.

And if you’re interested in finding other ways of being more sustainable, we have published a whole issue of the GCN Mag exploring this theme. Read it in full here!

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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