3 Small Ways You Can Show The Earth Some Love Today (& Every Day!)
In honor of Earth Day, why not show the planet some extra love? While the subject of climate change can feel rather gargantuan, caring for the environment does not have to be a huge overhaul. Will these small tweaks completely solve the climate crisis? No, not quite. However, systemic change really does start on the ground, and individual action does make a difference in the long run.
"One of the things I'm trying to do is [instill] that intention," says environmental policy expert Heather White on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast. "That intention in the practice of sustainability, that one green thing is the cultural driver we need for these big policy solutions to work." She outlines plenty of small tweaks in her book, aptly title One Green Thing, but here's how she recommends nurturing the Earth today:
Plan your menus.
"For a super-busy family, one of the things I recommend is menu planning," says White. We know, we know, it's not the most exciting intervention out there. "But it really helps with food waste, and food waste is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions." In fact, a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) found that if food wastage were a country, it would be the third-largest emitting country in the world.
Spending a little time planning your menu for the week and taking inventory of how much food you actually need can make a big difference. Not to mention, it's easier on your wallet and will streamline your meal prep. "That's a quick and easy way for you to think about what meals you're making. It saves you money and is a great way for you to have a plan for your leftovers," White adds. "It's super easy and fast." Here's a nutritionist's guide to planning your meals for the week, if you need some inspiration.
Spend time in nature.
"Spend time in nature with your family," says White (or go for a solo stroll!). How does this help the climate movement, you ask? Well, sure, interacting with nature might not be the most actionable item (although, spending time outdoors has been associated with many noticeable health benefits), but fostering a relationship with the earth around you is important to get the gears turning. As White would argue: When you deeply care about the environment, you can come up with more creative ways to sustain its health.
"Just go for a short walk," she suggests. And who knows—you may find some sidewalk trash to clean up along the way.
Get to know your utilities.
Again, it's a small step, and it's perhaps not the most tantalizing venture. But information is power—says White, it's important to think about the literal power in your home you might take for granted. "For a lot of people, our power is just magic for us," she explains. "We know we need to plug in our laptops and our phones, but how is it made? Where does it come from? You can call and ask what the renewable energy portfolio is of your utility provider."
Of course, investing in solar panels is a giant leap and not accessible for many, but there are other opportunities to reduce the energy in your home. "Use the LED light bulbs, focus on weatherization—it's not that exciting, but it really does make a huge difference in your energy bills," says White. Many power companies may also allow you to partake in a solar garden, a subscription-based service where you can get a portion of your electricity from a field of solar panels and receive credits on your energy bill. "Basically for every megawatt of power that comes into your house, you can buy renewable energy certificates to offset that," says White. You can read more about community solar and find a program near your home.
According to White, small actions to better the planet can kick-start greener intentions, helping you care about the future of the environment—and that's what will inspire policy change down the line. "Will menu planning and going for a walk solve the climate crisis? Of course not, but it can bring more clarity to your day," she explains. "It can make you feel better about how you're contributing to change, and it can inspire other people to take action."
Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth. He has been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Vogue, and has a B.A. in history from Columbia University, where he played varsity basketball for four years.