Not all heroes wear capes—at least not sustainable farmers and environmental activists—though we think they should. In celebration of Earth Day, we've tapped a few of these environmental allies for their tips on the quickest ways we can help the environment today (and always, really). Many of their suggestions have left us with lightbulb moments—why haven't we thought of these ideas? For instance, next time you order a cocktail or ask for a water at a restaurant, don't use a straw. Drink from the cup instead. What a novel idea, right? "Americans use over 500 million straws a day,” shares Clayton Garland, owner of Santa Monica–based small farm Eco Conscious Aquaponics.
Did you catch that? That's in one day. Yikes! "A lot of restaurants will automatically bring you a straw with every new drink." We know, it clicks as soon as someone says it, doesn't it? If you've tallied the number of cocktails you may have had over the weekend (we did), then saving the planet one spicy Moscow mule at a time is totally possible. Ahead, we asked our earth experts to provide a few more simple suggestions like this to celebrate Earth Day today, and every day.
If You Have 5 Minutes: Reduce
"Set up a home recycle and compost bin," suggests Clayton. He shares with MyDomaine that by doing, so you reduce your trash by 80%. (Count us in.) "Either buy a premade bin or just use any bucket with a lid. Don't forget to cover your compost with newspaper (or any non-bleached/glossy paper) to prevent flies." Noted! Clayton also suggests offering various waste bins the next time you host a party. "Set out labeled containers for all three waste types: trash, compost, and recycling," he says. "Not only will people have the opportunity to help, but you will also be raising awareness."
Another Way to Reduce Waste:
Make the pledge to compost at The Compost Story, shares Finian Makepeace the co-founder of healthy soil nonprofit organization Kiss the Ground. The pledge takes two minutes. (If you have more time watch The Compost Story starring Rosario Dawson and Adrian Grenier.) "There will also be a Compost Challenge starting May 7, for International Compost Awareness Week," he adds.
Bring your own reusable bag or box (if you're buying in bulk) to the farmers market, says Emily Ayala Thacher of Friends Ranch in Ojai, California. Their family-owned Pixie tangerine farm harvested 6.5 million pounds of the sweet citrus fruit this year. Imagine all of the boxes and bags we'd all help save.
Save Water, Drink Wine (just kidding, sort of):
Next time you're drinking glasses of wine, beer, or even cocktails, opt to use the same cup (this is one of those aha moments we were talking about), shares Lana Rasmussen from the bar at Ojai Rancho Inn. Here, they have a membership program where they keep your custom-designed cup by ceramic artists Pat and Roger on their wall (with your name on it of course). Added bonus, you get discounted draft beers.
Minimize the Use of Plastic:
"We encourage our guests to stay and enjoy their drinks here," says Jennifer Wheir, co-owner of Ojai's Beacon Coffee, wh o sources only responsibly grown coffee. She suggests minimizing waste by not using disposable cups, sleeves, lids, or straws (that's a lot, isn't it?). If you're going to be on the go, bring your own canister.
"Switch off all unnecessary lights in the house for the rest of the day," says Alice Bamford. The co-founder of One Gun Ranch, a biodynamic farm (aka they sow, plant, and harvest according to the moon, sun, and stars) in Malibu, suggests having dinner by candlelight. Because being eco-conscious can also be an absolute joy.
If You Have 10 Minutes: Save the Elements
Save Marine Life:
Take a stroll along the beach and instead of collecting seashells, collect trash. Clayton tells, MyDomaine, "Try to grab even the small pieces of plastic, called microplastics, which are the most common form of marine debris. Otherwise, these plastics get eaten by the fish you may be ordering next time you eat out."
Shrink Your Carbon Footprint:
Grow your own produce. "Starting your own vegetable garden not only shrinks your carbon footprint by making you less reliant on food shipped across the globe, but it also saves you money," says Alfredo Ruiz, an agronomist at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Not sure how to? Refer to: Yes, You Can Grow a Garden—All You Need Is 15 Minutes. It’s totally possible.
If You Have 15 Minutes: Clean Up Your Habits
Create a Healthier Habitat and Cleaner Food for Everyone:
Shop local for organic food at a nearby farmers market, suggests Marty Hanks, beekeeper at The Carolina Inn, a Destination Hotel. "Each dollar toward local organic or chemical-free farming means you are voting with your purchase for a cleaner, healthier food supply," he says. We all buy groceries anyway, why not get them from farmers markets?
Ride a bike. "If your destination is under five miles away, consider biking," suggests Clayton. "This may only take an extra 15 minutes to get there, and it doubles as a workout." We do love multitasking. (Also, at the risk of sounding like your mom, please wear a helmet).
Were these tips helpful? Share with us in the comments below what you've done on Earth Day (or do regularly) to help the environment. We can't wait to learn more.