7 Ways to Honor Yourself and the Earth for Earth Day
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Our Earth is beautiful and giving. Every day of the year we should bring attention to causes that fight to protect her, and every day we should honor the colorful biodiversity she offers. But, for at least one day, we come together around the world to learn about Earth, honor our planet, find new ways to make daily changes to be more sustainable, and make our voices heard.
On April 22nd we celebrate our planet with Earth Day. It’s a day when countries come together as one to honor our planet, our home. It’s a reminder for all of us that we are all connected and walk the same planet together, so we must preserve, protect and honor our environment in a variety of earth-friendly ways.
If you want to do something epic for Earth Day, but don't know exactly how to organize your efforts, here are seven ideas that will be easy to squeeze into your schedule but will also actually help make a difference. Because that's what Earth Day is really about — showing your appreciation for the planet by making it a better place.
7 Awesome Earth Day Ideas
Practice Yoga Outdoors
Ask your yoga teacher or local studio to offer classes outdoors. Fresh air, a natural setting, no butts in your face, and no need for electricity. Outdoor yoga leads to independence and the cultivation of an inner strength that allows you to deepen your practice and engage more fully. You'll have to focus your mind, minimizing distractions and concentrating on maintaining poses, while you strengthen your muscles and improve your balance.
Researchers at Stanford University have found that being in relaxing outdoor environments tend to make you feel better by releasing endorphins to the brain. Also, having the added stimulation of terrain such as grass and sand only helps you feel more grounded and connected to your environment.
Eat Vegetarian (or Vegan) for a Day
Did you know that 25% of 25-34 year old Americans now self-identify as vegan or vegetarian?
People have different reasons for adopting plant-based diets, but one predominant motivation is environmental. Meat and dairy account for 14.5% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, which is roughly equivalent to the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet. Shocked? Take your dismay and channel it into a one-day exploration of vegetarianism or veganism.
Looking for a fun way to try it out? Have a vegan taste test. Lay out a platter or some vegan alternatives and have a group put your food critic skills to work. Best case, you’re able to support sustainable food efforts; worst case, everyone gets to laugh at your “ew I don’t like it” face.
If you survive (or even enjoy) your foray into the plant-based foods, consider adopting Meatless Mondays. Plus, a refreshing beverage like Hibiscus Tea can make your tastebuds happy while fulfilling your nutritional and environmental needs.
According to the EPA, 20% of landfill waste is food. Think food decomposes in the landfill? Think again. Trash is typically too tightly compacted to allow in oxygen or hungry microorganisms to facilitate decomposition. With the help of nature, you can turn your own food scraps into rich, gorgeous soil. Home composting, in contrast, is easy to set up.
And, we have good news: getting started with composting is not as complicated as you have been telling yourself it is. In the Earth Day spirit, get yourself, your household, or your relatives in the composting scene. You can get started with something as simple as a compost pile in your backyard with some food scraps!
No yard space? Chances are your area hosts at least one compost pick up or drop off service. Simply store your food scraps in a bucket or the freezer, and offload them to the service provider. Your food waste will be on its way to becoming something that is better for the environment.
The Big Turn Off
Did anyone else’s mom ever yell about turning off appliances or lights when you were a kid? Chances are she was trying to save money on the power bill, but money isn’t the only thing you’ll be saving. For today, try turning off appliances at the wall when you’re not using them, or switching off lights when you leave the room. It sounds so simple but still worth mentioning as it still takes conscious effort!
Why not take it a step further and keep the TV switched off all day? By making it a ‘no TV’ day, you’ll have some extra time to connect with nature in some way. Enjoy a walk, get some fresh air, and appreciate your natural environment. Perhaps take the family for a picnic in the park, or collect shells at the beach, and encourage everyone to think about the earth and how magnificent it is.
Conduct a Home Energy Audit
We’re not here to shame you, but calculating your carbon footprint is a great way to have a baseline understanding of how many resources you actually use. Carbon emissions are tricky beasts, but every action to reduce them counts!
From electricity to oil and gas, our homes are a major source of energy use. Cut down your carbon footprint with a home energy audit, a professional service that can tell you how you can improve energy usage in your home. For example, your old windows may be letting in extra cold air in the winter, resulting in higher heating usage. Many energy service providers actually offer a free home energy audit.
Also, check with your local utility company to see if they offer environmentally friendly utility options.
Spend a Little Time with Nature
When we lose touch with nature, we may start to think of “the environment” as an abstract unfamiliar place. Getting yourself outdoors is the most effective way to reconnect with the simple, lush magic of the natural world.
Take a walk in the woods, find a meadow to lay in, or paddle a canoe at a local lake. Allow yourself to fully relax and take in your surroundings. If you have a meditation or yoga practice, consider sitting in stillness or doing some asanas outside. Be mindful of how much Mother Earth offers to you and understand how much you should give back to her. Our Amla Green is made with all-natural Indian Gooseberries, which would not be possible without the nutritious, healing vegetation that the planet provides for us.
Observe what you can hear, smell, feel, and even taste. Channel your inner kid and spend a few minutes following the ants and observing the butterflies. When we create space in our busy lives to be present with nature, we can experience the most profound wonder and deepest relaxation.
Keep the Car in the Garage
How about leaving the car at home and walking, cycling, or using public transportation for the day?
Fossil fuels are among the usual suspects for environmental damage. And Earth day is all about fighting against that harm. When you decide to venture out the door, take a second before you reach for your keys.
Plan beforehand for carpooling or consider a more leisurely mode of transportation like biking or walking. A 30-minute bike or walk is no more unreasonable than a 30-minute car ride. Maybe it’s time to start hanging up the car keys a little further from the door? Who knows, you might enjoy it so much it becomes a regular thing!
Whatever you decide to do this Earth Day, please join the celebration! There is so much work to be done, and that’s exactly why it’s so important to celebrate the wins we’ve already had, commemorate the day, and energize each other for the next steps we will all be taking together.
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, is a cofounder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002. Using an evidence-based approach to nutrition and fitness, he first reduced his own insulin usage by more than 40%, and has educated thousands of people with all forms of diabetes how to reverse insulin resistance using food as medicine. Cyrus earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2003, then earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. He is the co-host of the annual Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, a featured speaker at the Plant-Based Nutrition and Healthcare Conference (PBNHC), the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) Conference, Plant Stock, and has been featured on Forks Over Knives, NPR, PBS, KQED, Fast Company, and is the author of the upcoming book Mastering Diabetes.
- Cyrus Khambatta