Easy Things You Should Do to Help the Planet, from Filling Your Fridge to Raking Your Leaves
With nearly 8 billion people on the planet, taking care of the earth can feel like a group effort.
But each person plays their own part, and in honor of Earth Day this year, PEOPLE spoke to experts on climate action about what you can do to make a difference each day when it comes to celebrating and protecting our planet.
Read some of their best tips and tricks here, and pick up the new issue of PEOPLE for the complete list.
Examine Your Pension
Pressure your alma mater, religious institution or pension fund to divest from fossil fuels. This has become one of the most effective parts of the fight for climate action. It’s good for the planet and your wallet, since fossil-fuel stocks have woefully underperformed for a decade.
— Bill McKibben, author and cofounder of the activist group 350.org
Keep Your Fridge Stocked
A full fridge uses less energy than an empty fridge. And if your son or daughter at college uses a mini fridge, or you use one at the office, it’s time to ditch it. A mini fridge probably uses more electricity than all the other electric equipment in a dorm room. Use the fridge in the common room or your office kitchen.
— Neil Leary, founding director of the Center for Sustainability Education at Dickinson College, one of the first 10 U.S. colleges to become carbon-neutral
When you do have food scraps, remember they are not trash. They are the building blocks of rich, fertile, productive soils. Compost them to save resources, grow food and reduce the amount of material you send to the local landfill. And there’s no magic or secret to it or any need for costly equipment. Just set a pail by your kitchen sink, take the scraps to a corner of your yard every other day, and turn it with a garden fork once every couple of weeks. Black gold results.
— Neil Leary
Start with ‘I’
Be mindful of what you eat, for example. Think about the amount of energy it takes to bring that food to your plate — everything from growing to fertilizing to harvesting to transportation. Likewise, think hard about the energy that powers your home and how you get to work and making use of everything from carpools to other options. Your little one action, your little drop of water, can make a flood.
— Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy an social initiatives at Apple, where she met the goal of powering its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy; she was also the first African American to lead the EPA, serving from 2009 to 2013
For PEOPLE’s 50 Things You Should Know and Do to Help the Planet, pick up the latest issue on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.
Know Your Footprint
We all should know our carbon footprint, the footprint of our family and for the place where we work. There are many online calculators that can help (like the U.N.’s site carbonneutralnow.org). Next, identify where your low-hanging fruits are: Is it the food you eat? Your commute? Figure out how to reduce those emissions. Then make a plan to beat 50 percent of your current emissions by 2030.
— Christiana Figueres, coauthor of The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis
Talk to Family and Friends
While scientists are the most trusted source of climate information, friends and family are the second-most trusted. That means your conversations can make a difference. Talk about climate change with friends and family and on your social networks. You don’t have to be an expert; you just need to talk about why the issue matters.
— John Cook, founder of Skeptical Science
Plant a Garden
For instance, flowers with nectar can be super important for insects like butterflies and all the pollinators, like birds. That’s a pretty simple action you can take to help support wildlife. And the plants look super nice.
— Nikhil Advani, director, climate, communities and wildlife at the World Wildlife Fund
Instead of using a leaf blower, rake your leaves so the nutrients go back into the soil rather than being blown down the street and into the sewers.
— Miranda Wang, CEO and cofounder of BioCellection, which transforms unrecyclable plastics into new materials using pioneering technology
Choose an Electric Car
Look for one if you are buying or leasing. Or try electric bikes or scooters for short city trips. Ask Lyft or your local taxi fleet for an electric ride. They’re out there, but people don’t know about them.
— Mary Dolores Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board
Go More Vegetarian
Food production is responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gases created by humans each year — with more than half of those coming from livestock (particularly cows). Replacing a portion of your meat and dairy intake with plant-based foods will significantly reduce your impact on the environment.
— Danny Seo, sustainable living expert and author of the Naturally, Delicious cookbook
Ditch Plastic Water Bottles
The water from your tap has more regulations on it than what comes in a plastic bottle. Find a reusable bottle you love (my favorite is made by Kinto) and take it everywhere.
— Laurie David, producer, An Inconvenient Truth