8 simple ways to make a difference on Earth Day and beyond

Today we celebrate the 50th annual Earth Day. On April 22, 1970, millions of people gathered across the United States to stand up for the planet and advocate for its ongoing protection. Since then, the date has been marked around the world with rallies, workshops and environmental education campaigns. This year COVID-19 is forcing us to keep our distance, but it doesn’t mean we can’t unite to make a difference. The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action, so here are some of the ways you can love the earth today…and every day!

1. Turn off your lights for an hour

The official Earth Hour took place on March 28th and saw individuals, communities and businesses such as Coffs Central and Port Central turn off their lights in a symbolic gesture of global solidarity. But who says we can’t do it again? Why not use the hour to consider how you and your family can switch to a more sustainable lifestyle? 

2. Do a plastic audit at home

8 simple ways to make a difference on Earth Day and beyond

If you’ve never really looked into how much single-use plastic you use, today’s the day! Take a peek in the pantry, cleaning cupboard and bathroom. Which plastic products can you switch out? Think about your shopping and takeaway habits, too. Yes, we know it’s hard to avoid plastic but there ARE alternatives. Consider using beeswax wraps, metal straws, reusable water bottles and coffee cups. You can also  buy in bulk and support the local business making stylish home and personal products while closing the loop on plastic supply and demand.

3. Measure your ecological footprint

Measure your ecological footprint this Earth Day and make a difference.

What impact does your lifestyle have on the planet? How energy efficient is your home? Where do your fruits and veggies come from? How far do you drive in an average week? This calculator helps you assess your lifestyle and add up your ecological footprint then explore solutions to reduce your impact. I took the test and must admit, I found the results quite confronting! It got me thinking about ways to cut back on the amount of travel I do and the importance of reducing energy consumption in my home. 

4. Reduce Food Waste

According to the national sustainable food campaign FoodWise, Australians discard up to 20% of the food they buy. That means more than $1000 worth of food is thrown away by the average household each year (in NSW the average is even higher). The combined total is $8 BILLION worth of edible food! It’s easy enough to do. You buy groceries for the week and end up grabbing takeaway on Friday and Saturday. By Sunday night Tuesday’s leftovers aren’t looking very appetising and the carrots at the back of the fridge have shrivelled. Eating seasonally and locally, growing your own veggies, and composting your scraps are just some of the solutions. Register for the free Food Smart program to find out more.  

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8 simple ways to make a difference on Earth Day and beyond

While it’s important for us to take action individually, donating to reputable environmental charities on Earth Day can make a massive difference. They have the clout, the connections and the commitment to protect our earth and effectively combat the climate crisis. Donations to the Gowings Whale Trust fund research projects focused on the life, habits and preservation of the majestic Humpback Whale. In 2016, the trust formed a partnership with Sea Shepherd, donating a chase boat which is used to fight illegal whaling activities off Antarctica. Sea Shepherd uses direct action to defend, protect and conserve the world’s oceans.

6. Go plant-based for a day (or a day a week)

Can you go plant-based for Earth Day?

For some, cutting back on animal products is a walk in the park while others find it impossible to entertain. According to the Earth Day team, our food system accounts for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gases, making animal agriculture one of the largest contributors to climate change. If you’re ready to make a change, start small: one meal and one day at a time. Don’t focus on what you have to cut out, instead, concentrate on increasing your intake and enjoyment of fresh and local fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Fresco Marketplace at Coffs Central have got you covered. You can order one of their delicious fruit and veggie boxes right here.  

7. Help keep our beaches clean

Keeping our beaches clean shouldn't happen only on Earth Day but EVERY day.

We live in a beautiful part of the world with the Pacific at our doorstep. Did you know eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year and that an estimated 100 million marine animals are killed by plastics each year? Hopefully, this is all the motivation you need to get involved with one of the many great organisations dedicated to protecting our local beaches and waterways. Check out Coastal Warriors Mid North Coast, Seaside Scavenge and Clean Coast Collective

8. Plant a tree to absorb CO2 and restore native wildlife habitat

If your local nursery is still open, buy some native seeds and get planting! Can’t get to the nursery? Go online and order seeds to your door. In order to survive and thrive, it’s best if plants are propagated from seeds collected locally. When it’s possible to do so again, join a tree planting event in your local area. Check out Big Scrub Landcare, Coffs Harbour Regional Landcare or Koala Hospital Port Macquarie for community days.