Earth Day’s roots date back to April 1970, when people around the world took to the streets to raise awareness about smog prevention. At the time, there was growing evidence linking this type of air pollution to developmental delays in children.
Today, almost 50 years later, Earth Day’s 2018 mission is to prevent plastic pollution. Plastics litter our highways, injure marine wildlife, and leach into farmers’ fields and our food supply. The chemicals in plastic are linked to reproductive system abnormalities, birth defects, impaired neurological functions, cancer, diabetes, early puberty, obesity, and even resistance to chemotherapy.
What can older adults do to help keep our earth green and reduce plastic pollution?
There are a variety of small steps you can take that add up to a healthier, safer planet.
10 Ways to Create Change on Earth Day
- Skip bottled water. Instead, stock up on BPA-free, refillable water bottles that you can keep with you throughout the day. Plastic water bottles generate an enormous amount of plastic waste, and this one simple step can have a long-lasting impact.
- Opt for reusable grocery bags. Plastic grocery bags are another big source of waste. Invest in reusable grocery bags instead. Those that can be wiped clean after each use are best.
- Ditch plastic straws. This is an item you might reach for without even thinking, especially while dining out. Used plastic straws end up damaging our streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Opt for no straw or paper straws instead. Ask your favorite restaurants to do the same.
- Eliminate plastic utensils. While disposable silverware can be convenient when you are hosting a large crowd for a meal, it’s another big source of plastic pollution. Instead, invest in a few inexpensive sets of silverware that you use for special gatherings.
- Bring your own coffee cup. Like plastic bottles, Styrofoam coffee cups account for a lot of waste. Even if you only drop into a coffee shop once or twice a month, the coffee cup you leave behind each time likely ends up in a landfill. Most coffee shops will happily fill your mug if you bring it with you.
- Make your own cleaning products. Another way you can help keep the planet green is by mixing up your own home cleaning supplies in reusable glass spray bottles. Vinegar, baking soda, and a few drops of essential oil can keep your house looking and smelling clean while avoiding harsh chemicals.
- Recycle electronics. Cell phones, old televisions, and computers are another source of waste. Your local government likely hosts an electronics recycling day a few times each year that can help you safely recycle these types of items.
- Buy local. When you shop for food, supplies, clothing, and other household items locally, you support small businesses and eliminate the packing and supplies that shipping online purchases requires.
- Adjust the thermostat. Keeping the temperature a little lower in the winter and a little higher in the summer not only saves you money, it also saves the environment. The fossil fuels used to regulate temperature release chemicals that are damaging to the planet.
- Wash in cold water. Whenever possible, wash clothes in cold water instead of hot. It’s an earth-friendly step you can take that will also help reduce utility costs.
At Sunrise Senior Living, we are dedicated to helping create a greener planet. Some of our communities have even earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR certification! You can learn more by visiting a Sunrise community near you.
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