Earth Day 2016 Checklist for a Greener Life

Earth Day 2016 Checklist: Your Starter’s Guide to Saving the World

Earth Day 2016 is Friday, April 22. There is no time like the present to contribute to a healthier global environment.

Working towards a cleaner world starts in our own homes, our own backyards, and our own actions because that is what we can control.

Everything that we do impacts our Earth, and all the living beings on it. From trees to bees to our children.

So starting today, take action.

Adjust your thermostat to save polar bears. Eat less meat to save seabirds. Check the label and avoid palm oil to save orangutans. Stop junk mail to save tigers. Walk or bike more to save sea turtles.

This Earth Day, we want to help you create more sustainable habits.

Download this checklist and complete as many as you can in the month of April!

It takes 30 days to make a habit, so every day be sure to review the list and try to check off every task.


Download Earth Day 2016 Checklist for a Greener Life


Adjust Your Thermostat

If you use AC, adjust your thermostat 2-10 degrees warmer than you usually do in summer months so your AC isn’t working so hard to keep you so cool. 76 is the ideal temperature.

Only use it when you are at home and need cooling. If you will be out of the house for four or more hours, consider raising the setting so the cooling system only comes on if the temperature tops 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

Same method for during the winter months, set your thermostat 2-10 degrees colder than usual. 68 degrees is ideal here. At night, or when you are gone for more than 4 hours it is recommended that you adjust even further.

Remember to bundle up in clothes, socks and blankets before using your heat!

By turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill.

Consider investing in a programmable thermostat so that you can make additional adjustments for nights, weekends, and days when no one is home. This way you won’t have to manually adjust the thermostat several times per day.

Reusable Grocery & Produce Bags

Chances are you already are doing this, or at least we hope you are!

If you’re not using reusable grocery bags….NOW IS THE TIME TO START!

Bringing reusable grocery bags to the market is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce plastic and paper consumption. One trip to the grocery store or market could result in 3, 5, 10 plastic bags that would end up in landfills or worse, waterways, harming our marine life.

Produce bags are a less commonly used sustainable alternative. However, by bringing reusable produce bags you are reducing plastic consumption! Yay!

Plant a Tree

Earth Day 2016 Activities Plant a Tree

Image by Gabriel Garcia Marengo

Trees naturally filter the air and regulate global climate. Plus they’re beautiful. Plan a playdate to contribute to the Earth’s global health.

You can plant a tree in your local community, or donate to restore global forests.

Volunteer for Beach or Park Clean Up

Plastic is everywhere, and it’s harming wildlife. Watch the video.

Unplug Small Appliances After Use

Your coffee machine, your blow dryer, your DVD player, your lamp, your toaster.

They’re all sucking up energy while not in use.


Recycle/Set Up Recycling

According to the EPA, the national recycling rate is just 30%. Which is ASTOUNDING! Why are we not all recycling, all the time? It’s so easy to do!

Did you know increasing materials recycled in the US to 60% could save the equivalent of 315 million barrels of oil per year.

Sort materials by:

  • Paper and cardboard
  • Plastic
  • Glass (glass is separated by color too: clear, green and brown)
  • Aluminum, steel, copper
  • Electronics

Check with your local recycling center to see what curbside pickup takes and what you have to bring to the center.

Compost/Set Up Compost

Similar to recycling plastic or metal, composting recycles food waste.

Compost reduces your household waste by repurposing it into natural fertilizer. No plastic packaging here! Plus, it keeps ground moisture in, so conserve water in your garden!

Shop Your Local’s Farmers Market

Buying produce and other goods from your local farmer’s market has many environmental, health and community benefits!

Read: 7 Benefits of buying local products


Eat Meatless (at least) 1x per Week

The meat industry is responsible for approximately 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions

How is this possible, you ask?

Becoming a vegetarian or vegan is a deeply personal choice. Cruelty or personal views aside, we can all agree that eating less meat is good for the environment and good for the planet.

Need meatless recipe inspiration? Follow our Meatless Monday Pinterest board.


Stop Running Water in the Bathroom

Turn Off Water while Brushing Your Teeth, Washing Your Face, or Washing Your Hands

This is such a simple way of conserving water!

Quickly rinse your toothbrush, face or hands. Then turn off the water while you brush or wash. When the job is thoroughly done, turn the water back on quickly to rinse.

Collect Shower Water

Every time you shower, you let perfectly good water go to waste since it’s not warm enough to stand under.

Not anymore! Place a bucket underneath the faucet to collect the cold water, then use it to water your plants!

Create a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife

Plant bee friendly flowers, have a bird bath, or fill hummingbird feeders (please, no food coloring!).

Supporting local wildlife communities is good for the environment.

Choose Sustainably Caught Seafood

There are many dangers of farm raised seafood, or seafood caught unethically or unsustainably, including health dangers or wildlife becoming extinct.

Read: Vanishing Vaquita the Story of the World’s Rarest Marine Mammal


Out of Junk Mail

Did you know the average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year? Reduce and eliminate direct mail by opting out of receiving both junk mail and catalogs by using services such as: (free), (paid), (paid) (free).

Also, opt out of the Yellow Pages delivery and look up telephone numbers online instead.


Choose a Used Book or E-Book

Instead of a new book, find it used. Borrow from a friend or buy from a second hand store. Or buy the e-book version.

Save paper. Save trees. It’s that easy. 

Get Creative with Wrapping Paper

Who says you have to buy new wrapping paper to wrap a birthday or holiday gift?

Try using fabric instead. Or a pretty bag you can reuse.

Read: 14 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Holiday


Take Shorter Showers

This is pretty straight forward. Set a timer and stick to it.

Keep drinking water in the fridge

This eliminates the amount of running water wasted making it cool.

Properly Dispose of Hazardous Waste

Enough hazardous waste is generated in 12 months to fill the New Orleans Superdome 1,500 times over!

Household hazardous waste that is accepted are products used in the routine maintenance of homes, yards or vehicles.

These products are labeled with words such as “danger”, “warning”, “caution”, “poison”, “flammable” or “corrosive.”

Universal waste including consumer batteries, light bulbs, light tubes, fluorescent light ballasts and mercury containing items.

Incandescent bulbs can still be placed with your regular trash.

Contact your local Hazardous Waste Transfer Facility for more information about handling, transport, appointment times and more.


Try a DIY Cleaner

Make your own household cleaner free of harmful chemicals.

Try these:

Zero Waste Cleaning Laundry Tips from Earth 911
Non-Toxic Cleaning Solutions from Earth Easy
DIY Natural Cleaners from DIY Natural


Stop Using Plastic Water Bottles

Instead of buying cases of plastic water bottles, invest in one reusable. Preferably glass or stainless steel. They won’t leak harmful chemicals into your body.

Grow Your Own Food and Herbs

Earth Day 2016 Activities - grow your own food and herbs

Image by Ernest Porzi

Unless you’re buying at your local farmer’s market, food and herbs come in plastic packaging and travel far distances to reach you.

Grow food and herbs in your own garden to cut back on plastic consumption and C02 emissions.

You’ll save money, and increase the nutrients that you’ll absorb! “Half of the nutritional value of plants is lost within thirty minutes of harvesting,” says Brian Hetrich, a naturopathic doctor and gardening expert at the Hippocrates Health Institute.

You don’t have to have a large garden to do this! Many edible plants grow great in small spaces!


Check Your Home for Leaks/Repair a Leak

The average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.


Check your faucets, shower heads, toilets, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, water heater, garden hoses, irrigation systems, pool, spa/hot tub, pond, fountain, water meter and supply line for leaks to save water and money.


Choose Organic Food

Pesticides, chemicals, and preservatives  are harmful to both our bodies and the environment. They destroy topsoil, pollute waterways, and kill bees. Bees pollinate flowers, plants, and even food! Save the bees.

Organic food doesn’t have to be expensive either, if you buy what’s in season!

Or take a look at the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen.

15 fruits and vegetables that are sprayed with the least amount of pesticides so they’re safe to consume.

Alternatively stay away from the Dirty Dozen, buy organic versions of what’s on this list!

Reuse Your Drinking Water Glass

Do you use a water glass once and wash it? Stop. Please!

You should be drinking 2 glasses right after you wake up, throughout the day, before meals, at night time, and before bed.

If you use one glass each time you’re doing a lot more washing than you should.

Consider using just one water glass per day, or for every 2 or 3 days to drastically reduce the number of dishes your washing.

Thaw Frozen Food Without Running Water

Thaw frozen food without running water by placing it in the refrigerator instead.

Water Plants with Ice Cubes

A neat little trick that saves water and prevents overwatering. You can use ice cubes from a previous drink to avoid wasting that precious water.

Air Dry Laundry

earth-day-air-dry-clothes 800px

Image by Charles L.

Hang dry or lay flat, either option will save you energy. Saving energy is good for penguins and polar bears.

Opt for E-Tickets

Concerts or travel now have options where you can download tickets on your smartphone. Save paper, save trees!

Water Plants in the Early Morning or Late Evening

Watering plants during non-peak sunlight hours means there’s less chance for water evaporation. Less evaporation means more water gets soaked in to your thirsty plants or lawn while requiring less water.

Collect Rainwater

Save even more water by collecting it from the sky! 1,000 square feet of roof surface captures 625 gallons of water for every 1 inch of rain that falls.

You can place large buckets or storage bins, or fancy rain barrels underneath your rooftops gutter and drainage systems to reduce runoff and conserve water.

Read Earth 911’s Guide to Rainwater Collection

Thrift Shop Before You Buy New

Our landfills are packed. You need new tennis shoes, or a backpack for your child.

Before you buy new, consider purchasing second hand, borrowing from a friend or neighbor, or repairing your current model.

Recently, one wheel broke on the carry-on suitcase I’ve had for the past decade. It’s a well worn suitcase, I’ve certainly used it enough to warrant a replacement. But it still works, even though it’s encroaching “too big” by new industry standards. I replace the 2 back wheels for a small fraction of the cost of a new suitcase and only 2 small wheels were sent to be recycled instead of the whole suitcase.

Avoid Permanent Press on the Washing Machine

Most washing machines include an extra rinse cycle for permanent press. Extra rinse cycle means extra water wasted. No bueno.

Replace a Lightbulb with LED lights

LED bulbs last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents, and far longer than typical incandescents. LED light bulbs use only 2-17 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of Incandescent or CFL). LED bulbs used in fixtures inside the home save electricity, remain cool and save money on replacement costs since LED bulbs last so long.

Make sure to properly dispose of your lightbulbs.

Walk or Bike Instead of Drive

Earth Day 2016 Activities: Bike or Walk

Image by Christopher Harris

We know fossil fuels are bad. Burn less fuel by driving less.

Going to the park? Consider a family bike ride to make the whole day a fun, active journey. Need a few things from the market? Walk and be sure to bring a backpack and reusable market bags to tote your goods.

Take a Navy Shower

A Navy shower is “the term used for a water-saving technique that was started in the Navy to help save precious freshwater aboard ships. The basic idea is to hop in the shower, get wet all over, turn off the water while soaping up, and then rinse clean. The small change in routine makes a huge difference: a regular shower can use as much as 60 gallons of water, while a Navy shower can check in at about 3 gallons.”

Do Not Buy Disposable Utensils and Cups

Each year, Americans toss out enough disposable utensils and cups to circle the equator 300 times.

Don’t buy disposable plastic utensils and cups. Don’t do it.

If you’re at home use your regular dish ware. If you’re on the go, opt for stainless steel or bamboo bento boxes. If you have to have disposable, consider biodegradable plates, cups, and utensils.

Avoid Palm Oil

Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. It’s also found in cosmetics, soaps, and more.

As palm oil demand has surged, massive forest areas have been degraded. Displacing and killing orangutans, and causing huge impacts on local environment and communities.

Check the labels of your baked goods, breads, cookies, nut butters, chips, granola bars, ice cream, pastries, frozen pizza, chocolates, pet food, make-up, soaps, detergents, and shampoos.

Palm oil might not always be listed on the ingredients. It is often hidden as vegetable oil, or one of these names.


Use Non-Plastic Food Storage

Plastic is harmful for the environment and your body. It’s difficult to recycle because there are so many rules and regulations about what can and cannot be done.

Stainless steel and bamboo bento boxes are good alternatives to plastic food storage.


Finally… Share This with a Friend!

The more people that contribute to our global health in a positive way, the better! Share this checklist and this post with your friends and family, and encourage them to green their life as well.

For more ways to green your life:
Water Use It Wisely
Chasing Green
Earth 911
Sustainable Baby Steps

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