Dear Eartha, I love Earth Day. But it irks me when I see large fashion companies using this day of stewardship to sell cheap “Love Our Planet” t-shirts that require considerable amounts of energy and resources. What can I do?
Your question calls to mind Thanksgiving: We state our gratitude on the holiday, but why not at every meal? In a similar fashion, I see many companies using the Earth Day holiday to sell gimmicky t-shirts and announce new lines of products with ingredients that aren’t so Earth-friendly. April 22 is even a time when many people and companies shout their love for the planet on social media.
But what happens on April 23? Why not do something every day that reflects the real spirit of Earth Day? The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, mobilizing millions to call for increased protection of the planet. In honor of that tradition, let’s make this year’s celebration more than a social post.
Make a statement with your shopping
No, I’m not talking about the latest fashion trends but rather the businesses you support. A good place to start is learning which businesses are open and honest about their sustainability practices. Check out the High Country Conservation Center’s green business directory to find Summit County businesses in retail, lodging, food, spas, and even religious organizations that have won recognition for reducing energy use and improving things like recycling. Any local business can get involved for free, and there’s even funding available to help your business make a bigger impact.
You may not be able to shop local every day, or every week, but you can keep in mind that you have the power to choose where you spend your money. To develop this conscious consumer mindset, start by looking at where products are made and think about how far they traveled to get to you. All that travel adds up in terms of climate pollution. Or, check out a handy guide to see which fruits and veggies are in season meaning they have traveled less distance to get to your local store.
Even with online budget shopping, we can find ways to make statements. Reduce the number of trips (and all the delivery truck pollution) by creating a list and waiting to order until you have multiple things you need. For example, Amazon allows you to bundle shipments.
Get involved locally
Some of the most prominent sustainable actions in local government have been enacted because of citizens. You have the power to make a change! Both Breckenridge and Frisco’s 100% renewable electricity goals were guided by citizen-led initiatives.
The plastic bag bans in both Dillon and Breckenridge were supported by elementary school students who showed up to the town council meetings and helped influence the decisions. Local town councils want to hear from you, and you can reach out more easily than you think. Learn how by visiting the Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon, and Silverthorne websites. To be even more impactful, be specific in what you want to see. For example, you could share support for a specific piece of policy.
Food scrap composting
Reducing the waste that ends up in your trash (and eventually the landfill) is extremely helpful to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change. Good news: Getting involved in composting is free. Start by picking up a bucket from the High Country Conservation Center’s office, and once it’s full drop it off at one of seven different locations across the county.
These efforts add up – residents have composted more than 950,000 pounds of food waste through the food scrap program since it became free in September 2019. That’s the equivalent to removing the annual emissions of more than 150 cars!
Invest in our planet
Sometimes it may feel like we are just scratching the surface with little habits, but individuals and businesses are not powerless. The small actions we take in our daily lives can create significant change, both locally and globally. When we protect the planet, we protect each other and protect basic human needs like clean water and air — just like why Earth Day started in the beginning.