Going green in quarantine: celebrating Earth Day 2020

This year’s Earth Day might look a little different while we are all social distancing, but you can still celebrate the environment while stuck at home.

Why is celebrating the environment so important? Earth Day was started 50 years ago, as demonstrators wanted a way to combat climate change and protect the environment.

Since the first Earth Day (April 22, 1970), the climate has continued to change, with temperatures nationally warming almost two and a half degrees.

In South Bend, the warm-up hasn’t been quite as noticeable in the last 50 years, but temperatures are still trending slightly warmer.

In 2020, the unique circumstance of social distancing is actually helping the planet. While people are staying at home and travelling less, emissions from vehicles have gone down. In turn, this gives us healthier air to breathe. If emissions stayed at this level, it could also help keep temperatures from rising. Social distancing likely won’t continue long enough however to ensure this.

While you are staying home, you are already helping Earth by not driving. There are other ways that you can help Earth.

  1. Reuse something instead of throwing it away. Use the extra time at home to get crafty with empty jars, plastic bottles, or old newspaper. For example, you can use an empty egg carton as a great way to separate your earring pairs.
  2. Clean your closet, but don’t throw clothes in the garbage. While thrift stores and Goodwill are not open right now, you can set aside clothing you don’t wear anymore to donate after the pandemic is finished. According to online thrift company ThredUP, over 26 billion pounds of clothing is thrown away each year.
  3. On your next walk or run (the outdoors is still open), take an empty plastic bag with you. Fill with trash you see outside. Not only will the landscape look better with less litter, but animals and plants will also be happier when unfamiliar objects are cleaned.
  4. Buy in bulk when you can. Smaller containers of food (like chip pouches, individual yogurts, small condiment packages) are convenient, but also lead to more waste. Buying larger containers (like a full bag of chips, a larger tub of yogurt, full condiment bottle) means less trips to the store and less packaging when things are not individually wrapped.
  5. Don’t forget to unplug occasionally and turn off lights, televisions, and other electronics when you are not using them. When the air outside is comfortable, open your windows to help cool your home naturally instead of using unnecessary air conditioning.

There are thousands of other ways that you can help the environment. While it is important to celebrate Earth Day each year as a reminder to take care of our planet, don’t be afraid to celebrate like Earth Day is every day if you truly want to make a green impact.

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