By Jennifer Lenart
Is anyone else surprised that it's June? Spring flew by quickly in my household and we realized that we didn’t celebrate Earth Day the way we had intended. Not to be discouraged, we researched some ways to take the energy of Earth Day into every day.
There are lists like EARTHDAY.ORG’s 51 Ways to Restore our Earth, and The National Ocean Service’s (NOS) 10 Simple Choices for a Healthier Planet. You can skim the list for something that strikes your fancy or seems achievable, work your way through the list top to bottom, or even close your eyes and point to select ways to make a difference any day.
If you’re looking for a reflective practice to really get to the heart of your individual power to make a positive difference, check out Sierra Club’s article on mapping your power to make systemic change. This practice can help move you from “what difference could I really make?” to a greater understanding of your unique ability to make a difference, hopefully helping to empower you to make change. The article outlines 5 main areas to put energy towards systemic change: civic, behavioral, social, financial and professional. Here’s one quick idea for each area.
Do you have ideas for celebrating Earth Day everyday? Share below!
- Civic: One activity all three resources suggest is volunteering. For a very “Earth Day” like activity, volunteer for a clean-up event or create your own event. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a great list of volunteer opportunities. This Minnesota DNR page lists volunteer opportunities throughout Minnesota.
- Behavioral: Sierra Club recommends that we “create less demand and less waste. Buy only what you need. Repair, reuse, and buy second-hand. Recycle and compost.” This is the heart of ReUSE Minnesota’s mission. For a great list of resources on repair, re-use, and buying second-hand, look no further than ReUSE Minnesota’s member list.
- Social: Talk about climate change and how you incorporate reuse into your routines with your co-workers, family, and friends! This helps normalize making earth-friendly decisions.
- Financial: Vote with your dollar. Sierra Club’s article discusses how it's important not to discount your actions if you aren’t able to do “enough.” If this area isn’t where your strength lies, focusing on one or a few of the others does make a difference! Where you can, support eco-friendly companies and organizations – particularly those that prioritize reuse, rental, and repair.
- Professional: Start the conversation - sustainability teams, monthly green challenges, encouraging low-carbon commutes, opting for better office products and the timeless ‘go paperless’ are all great ideas to bring up at work. As you continue to adapt to new norms in your work place (whether that’s returning to an office space, remaining in a telework capacity, etc.), make sure to be thoughtful about not simply recycling or disposing of surplus office items in those transitions. Reuse as much as possible within your team, and if there truly isn’t a need, find a location where you can donate those items for others to use.