In case you haven’t heard, today is Earth Day. Every 22nd of April since 1970 has been dedicated to showing our planet some love, something that should probably be done a lot more often than just once annually. With a global population set to reach 10.5 billion by 2050, ensuring future generations actually do have a future on this planet should be one of our highest priorities.
As young professionals, we’re at the forefront of that responsibility. We’re influencers in a very consumer-based society and can shape the way our friends, colleagues and even our parents exercise their buying power a greener way. We’re also among the demographic with the most disposable income. But remember, just because our cash is disposable, doesn’t mean our lifestyle has to be. We’ve reached the point of our lives where big purchasing decisions are on the horizon; that first house, car and office space, all of which come with earth-friendly options. And while living a more eco-friendly lifestyle may seem more expensive at first, keep in mind that resource conservation, renewable energy and fuel efficiency are big money savers in the long-term.
So in honour of Earth Day, here are five ways to give back to our planet by the time tomorrow morning rolls around:
1. Find an alternative commute to work tomorrow. Essentially, don’t drive. Take public transit, bike, walk, or all three. Even if it means you lose an hour of sleep, you might be surprised how energizing the extra fresh air in the morning can be. Who knows, you might even make a habit of it.
2. Install energy-efficient light bulbs. Some bulbs have the capacity to reduce energy consumption up to 75%, saving about $6/year per bulb, depending on your energy costs. Though it seems somewhat insignificant, consider it a lifestyle change that’s part of a collective effort; if every North American replaced just one regular bulb with an energy-efficient one, we would save enough energy to light 3.5 million homes for a year, save about $700 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 10 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about one millions cars.
3. Pay online. Chances are most of your bills have shifted to e-format already, so take advantage of this digital age luxury by eliminating as much paper trail as possible. If every Canadian conducted the majority of their banking transactions online, we’d save up to 3 million trees annually.
4. Take action. If you feel strongly about a particular environmental issue, write a letter to your local government representative explaining your opinion. If your voice isn’t enough to spur a new piece of legislation, perhaps you can strengthen the cause of an existing platform. Better yet, write an email and save paper.
5. Plant a tree. There isn’t a more symbolic way to literally make your world a greener place. Rainforest destruction is one of the leading causes of global warming, so do your part by replenishing the natural ecosystem, even if it means just housing a small herb garden or a few shrubs on your limited urban property.