Happy (almost) Earth Day everyone! Between the climate striking kids inspired by Greta Thunberg, the stop sucking campaign against plastic straws, the Green New Deal momentum, China’s ban on plastic imports showing the glaring flaws in western recycling, and the major increased interest in sustainable fashion, 2019 is shaping up to be the year where climate concerns are coming to the forefront of the world conversation. We at Rust and Fray think that this Earth Day should live up to the momentum of the year. But while many Earth Day articles will tell you what you should do for the planet, we’re going to spice things up and tell you what not to do, and try and eliminate things for our planet. Our hope is that committing to one day is not too big of a personal challenge but can introduce you to what it takes to live a more sustainable lifestyle. So try out these five pledges and see what works for you, and use Earth Day to experiment on future long term lifestyle changes for sustainability.
Day Without Single Use Plastic
For starters, use this Earth Day to go completely without single-use plastic. No straws, no disposable coffee cups, no grocery store bags, no teabags (yup, those have plastic in them too), no fast food containers, no water bottles, none of it. 2019 is experiencing something people are calling the Attenborough Effect, where people are becoming much more conscious about their disposables use after watching Blue Planet II. So why not try it yourself? See how much plastic you can cut out of your life for the day, and then when you’re done figure out what was easy to cut and what was harder, or if there were any super simple solutions that could easily have replaced the plastic this whole time. No one in the zero-waste journey is expected to go completely cold turkey on plastic but one plastic-free day is a great way to get thinking about it and figuring out what you can pretty easily cut.
Day Without Fast Fashion
By now many people know of the dangers of fast fashion: how it is one of the most polluting industries in the world, how terrible cotton is for the planet, how much clothing ends up in landfills, and so on. Sustainable fashion is a rapidly growing world, so it is pretty easy to find a piece of clothing that’s sustainable. So why not make start your journey with one day of sustainable fashion only? The long term plan is of course going to be slowly replacing your wardrobe with sustainable options as the fast fashion options break down (which won't take long, it’s fast fashion) but in the meantime a day of sustainable fashion can start you off on this journey excited to browse the vintage shops, upcycling designers, and others trying to change the fashion world.
Day Without Paper
This one is probably the easiest amount of work, so hopefully this one can be done in conjunction with other sustainable ideas. Spend the day simply using electronics, refusing receipts, saying no to business cards or other handouts, and so on. Better yet, spend an hour going through all your bills, bank statements, and other regular paperwork and switching over to the electronic versions. Really easy way to make years worth of less paper waste.
Day without Meat
Go vegetarian or vegan for a day! Look up some vegetarian or vegan recipes and have fun seeing what you can do with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The environmental impact of the meat industry is huge, being incredibly devastating to the soil, raveging the oceans with overfishing and pesticides, chemically intensive, and a massively inefficient use of land. Again, while jumping into a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle can be daunting, a single day change is not going to be too drastic. And if you like the recipes you find, you may want to put it into your meal rotation or make Meatless Monday/ Meat Free Friday a healthy, eco-friendly tradition.
Go Without Palm Oil
Up for a bigger challenge? Try going the day completely without palm oil. Palm oil is in everything, and when we say everything we mean everything. As we discussed at length in our previous article on Palm Oil, the environmental crisis of palm oil is multi-layered and there is no easy solutions and no easy switches. Solving the palm oil crisis needs to include lessening the overall demand of palm oil, promoting biodiversity, advocating for palm oil to be grown sustainably, and promoting local eating and other slow food initiatives. We don’t believe completely living palm-oil free is a viable solution for the majority of people as a movement. But we do believe that doing a palm oil free challenge can spread awareness, educate you on the problem, find some switches that can help you reduce your palm oil intake, and overall help you become involved with one of the more difficult challenges in the sustainability world. Earth Day is all about education, advocacy, and action, and a palm oil free challenge combines all three of those goals.
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