Earth Day 2020: How to Make a Difference Now

by Tamzin Birch

To celebrate and bring awareness to Earth Day 2020, we’ve compiled ideas to help make your life a little more sustainable. Times are extra tough right now, so we’ve kept these suggestions simple and made mindful adaptations for our current circumstances. These tips can be incorporated in your grocery shopping routine, or when you’re staying home.

Your closet -

Prepare for a future thrift store donation, clothing sale, or clothing swap! Go through your entire closet and be ruthless. To help decide whether you should keep something, ask yourself a few questions:

Even though I own it, do I love it?

Even though I love it, do I use it? 

Even though I use it, do I need it?

Do you really need 7 pairs of black skinny pants? Only you know the answer, but judge each pair on its own. Since everyone’s individual needs are unique, give yourself some time to truly assess your own (rather than adhering to other people’s). 

Once you’ve gone through clothing, shoes, and accessories, you should have some items that are no longer needed or wanted. Set these aside in bags or a storage container. There’s a few ways to get them out of your home: plan to donate these locally (once allowed in your area), plan to have a clothing swap with your friends (in the future, for now let’s keep our social distance), or plan could sell them online (online stores like Depop or Poshmark let you sell your clothing and mail it to the buyer). Mailing may be difficult at the moment, but if you get to know the site’s process in the meantime, you’ll be ready once the time is right.

A clothing swap is our favourite idea, since you can acquire new clothing for free (even cheaper than thrifting), and can still donate whatever is left to a local organization.


Cleaning your home - 

Running out of your regular cleaning products? No need to make an extra shopping trip, since you probably have everything you need for a natural alternative at home. Consider looking through your pantry for some DIY cleaning essentials: white vinegar, baking soda, and a spray bottle.

For an all purpose cleaner:

Fill a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water. Use this spray on counters, glass, and plastic surfaces. Using a microfiber or cotton cloth, buff away to a shine. Vinegar is antibacterial, and will help to clean without harsh fumes or residue. Please note: vinegar cleaners are not recommended for wood, granite, marble, and soapstone surfaces. 

Bath, sink, toilet, and shower cleaner:

Make a paste of baking soda and a little water. With a sponge, brush, or cloth, use this to scrub the surface of soap scum and debris. Rinse away with water. Spray your vinegar solution kill bacteria and "activate" anything left behind, and rinse away again. To clean the toilet, sprinkle baking soda in the bowl and scrub with your brush. Let this sit for a few minutes, spray with your vinegar solution, and flush. 

Your home won’t smell like vinegar for very long, but if the acidic scent does bother you, considering infusing your vinegar. Adding citrus peels, a few drops of essential oils, or herbs (dried mint, rosemary, lavender) to the spray bottle can impart a more pleasant fragrance. 

Reusable and sustainable swaps -

Instead of using disposable products, consider investing in earth-friendly reusables! They’re a little more expensive at first, but last a lot longer, and have a much smaller environmental impact. 

For storing leftovers and packaging lunches, use beeswax or soy wax wraps instead of saran wrap and sandwich bags. These can be found at most grocery stores these days, so no need to make an unnecessary trip to a new place. You can also buy them online, and support smaller businesses who make these products.

Many grocery stores have paused the use of reusable shopping bags and produce bags for the time being, but some haven’t, so check in with your regular grocer to see if you can prevent the use of single-use plastic bags. 

Instead of using paper towels, wipe up kitchen messes with washable cloths. Instead of buying plastic bottles of water, use a canteen. Take a look at your current lifestyle and see if there’s habits you could improve to be more eco-friendly, and remember that you don’t have to change everything at once.

Choosing food + packaged products -

Plan your meals: prevent food waste by planning your meals, and in turn your grocery trips. No more fruits and veggies (bought with good intentions) spoiling in the back of the fridge. When everything on your grocery list has a “plan”, you’re less likely to let it go to waste at home. Since some stores have limited offerings at the moment, write down swaps and substitutes that will work if your ingredient is not available. 

Produce: try to avoid plastic containers. Whenever possible, buy loose produce. Even better if you’re able to use a reusable produce bag! If you can support local produce, you’re helping farmers keep your local environment healthy too. 

Buying bulk: the bulk section is an easy way to reduce packaging waste under normal circumstances, if you can bring a reusable container. Right now, consider buying larger containers of your regular staple groceries to reduce packaging, e.g. bigger bags of rice, beans, flour (if available at your store).

Choose better packaging: glass, cans, and cardboard are much more efficient to recycle and reuse than plastic. Of course, we have to balance our values with what’s available to us, so make decisions you feel good about. 

Every little helps, so do what you can given the circumstances. A quote by Jana Stanfield - 

“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.”

Happy Earth Day!