Earth Day 2018: The End of Plastic Pollution

Written by
Grace Pawlowski
Published on
April 20, 2018 1:08:00 AM PDT April 20, 2018 1:08:00 AM PDTth, April 20, 2018 1:08:00 AM PDT

TheEarth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, has dedicated Earth Day 2018 to ending plastic pollution. Their campaign will work to support a global effort to eliminate single-use plastics like shopping bags, straws and water bottles—things that get trashed way too often. So, what can you do? We’re breaking down the top three ways to reduce your day-to-day plastic consumption plus offering some other ideas to help reduce your carbon footprint. Tell us how you plan to contribute this year!

Three simple rules to reduce plastic pollution.

Switch to reusable bags.

We created Urban Market Bags because we wanted a reusable bag system that was practical, portable and machine washable. We didn’t feel very eco-friendly (or organized!) tossing out soiled, torn totes that we had collected from grocery stores and events. Instead, we opted to design a high-quality solution that would be easy to remember to bring and last for years to come. Now we can feel good about making an impact and be proud to carry our stylish bags around town. Take 30% off all purchases with code EARTHDAY30 through April 22, 2018.

Ditch straws.

We might sound like a broken record but we promise you can do without them. We bet you’ll be surprised how often you toss these plastic tubes in the trash without thinking twice. Two steps to saying goodbye:

  • Bring some attention to your daily habits by giving up straws for a week. This exercise will make it clear where you can cut back.
  • Challenge your co-workers or friends to give up straws for a week as well. You always use more than you think. Being conscious helps you avoid mindless consumption and saves the planet little-by-little. One co-worker challenged her co-workers in the Buzzfeed office, see how it went.

Don’t forget your water bottle.

This one is easy and you’ll probably end up drinking more water if you always have your bottle in hand. Here are some super chic & functional options:

Scroll down for a handy infographic that tells you just how much you could save with 7 Single-Use Swaps

Have you thought about…

  • Eating less meat? Help cut down on greenhouse gasses, save the rainforest and reduce your risk for disease. If that caught your attention, Scientific American breaks it down in more detail. Bring on #meatlessmonday #meatlesstuesday #meatlesswednesday and check out our favorite recipes for spring produce for some vegetarian yum-spiration.
  • Composting? Kitchen scraps can do wonders. Composting enriches our soil while reducing our reliance on chemical fertilizers. Most importantly, composting reduces your carbon footprint by preventing the decomposition of food scraps in a landfill. Landfills seal containers full of trash to prevent toxins from leaching into our groundwater. Unfortunately this means that food will decompose anaerobically (without oxygen) and turn into methane and carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases). PRO TIP: keep a small bowl (or compostable bags) in your freezer to collect food scraps so your kitchen doesn’t stink!
  • Switching to natural household cleaning products? Go all the way and make your own cleaning products with this handy guide or opt for a cleaner store-bought brand. We love Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation and Method to name a few.
  • Going paperless and canceling junk mail? If you have an hour to spare, take the time to set your settings to “paperless” for key household accounts. In addition you can take these 6 easy steps to be removed from virtually every mailing list. Now you can be sure it’s something good when the mailbox is full!
  • Taking public transportation or riding your bike? Get outside more and avoid bumper to bumper traffic (for the most part). You’ll reduce air pollution, save money and encourage your community to invest in public transit systems, which promote economic growth.
  • Landscaping with native plants? Support your ecosystem by planting things that are meant to be there. You’ll save water and time (less upkeep!) while making the local animals and insects feel right at home. Check out this guide to get started.

Show some love for mother earth

Audit your energy usage.

You can hire an energy auditor to conduct an assessment on your home. Generally the auditor will examine the outside of the house, do a room-by-room walkthrough and take a look at past utility bills. They will also run some specialized tests to determine where the house is wasting energy (learn more about energy audits). Improvements may cost you but could quickly pay off depending on the impact, plus you can feel good about living green.

Install solar panels.

Curious how much you could be saving? Look it up with Project Sunroof. View your estimated monthly energy and monetary savings while comparing options for financing and purchasing solar panels for your home. Learn how solar works via Project Sunroof: Solar 101.

Reuse your grey water.

This is next level but totally worth the investment. Depending on where you live, you may be required to do this in the not so distant future. Cape Town made headlines this winter as the first metropolitan city on track to run out of its municipal water supply (and is not in the clear yet). Citizens have learned to collect their shower water to help flush toilets. You can take preemptive measures to reduce your water usage by installing a greywater system. This type of water recycling will be especially important in states that are known to have severe droughts like California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Arizona and Idaho.

7 Single-Use Swaps

Infographic by: Alexandra Case, a senior Advertising student at the University of Georgia (UGA), designed this wonderful infographic. Alexandra will graduate in May 2018.

Additional resources to help protect our planet: