I’m heated

In lieu of Earth Day, I’m forming small habits that’ll make major changes


Earth Day — aka the one day a year we’re pretty much required to care about the environment —  is almost here. Because of this, I am thriving.

U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin founded Earth Day in 1970. That year on April 22, 20 million people protested in favor of sustainable environmental practices, according to the holiday’s website. 1970 was the height of counterculture in the U.S., which sparked Nelson’s idea for a “national teach-in on the environment.”

This year, I decided to start celebrating Earth Day early. I’ve decided to make some changes in my life to “save the Earth,” or at least try to. On average, it takes 66 days to form a habit, according to Huffington Post, and I’m already getting into the habit of these new things.

One of the habits I’ve adopted since April began is doing away with straws. This is something I’ve been trying to do for years — I’m a conscious straw consumer — but now I’ve gotten stricter with myself about it. So far, I’ve used only one, and that was because the waitress at Red Robin brought us our drinks pre-strawed.

Additionally, I bought an alternative to plastic straws on Amazon: stainless steel straws. They’re 8 inches long, so I can easily carry it in my purse or keep them in my cupboard, and poof! I’ll never need a plastic straw again.

I work at a cafe, and we’re not strangers to disposable cups. I order drinks during my shifts all the time, and all those cups add up. According to the Alliance for Environmental Innovation, every coffee cup — including the sleeve, shipping and production — contributes .11 kg of carbon to the atmosphere.

So, every time I drink my coffee in a ceramic mug or reusable to-go cup instead, I’m saving about .11 kg of carbon. After about six months, that’ll be the average amount of carbon a car emits per week. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but imagine if everyone did that. The effects would add up quickly and the results would be astounding.

Another thing I’m doing is being less wasteful. Since I’ve moved into my house, I’ve noticed produce expires pretty quickly. I forget about it in the back of the fridge, and the following week, it ends up in the trash. That head of broccoli had to be grown, watered, fertilized and shipped to make it to my refrigerator. Then it just ends up in the trash? No, thanks.

I’m trying to plan out my meals for the week before going grocery shopping so I can buy exactly what I need and stop having a surplus of stuff that’ll just be thrown out. So far, it’s going fine, but I’m not perfect. This habit saves money and the environment — both of which I’m always excited about.

The most substantial change I’ll be making is switching back to a vegan diet. I strayed away from it for awhile after being vegan for six months, but I’m switching back due to the environmental benefits of not eating meat and animal byproducts.

I’ve pretty much adhered to a vegan lifestyle, even as I strayed away, but there is a partially full carton of eggs in my fridge that a vegan shouldn’t be eating. (Plus, the amount of milk chocolate I’ve eaten since Valentine’s Day is alarming).

I’m trying to find a way to make saving the environment and being less wasteful a trend of some sort. This generation loves a good trend, so let’s make the next one green. I see a lot more Starbucks cups littering my Instagram feed than hip and stylish reusable ones. Let’s face it, waxy paper isn’t cute, but all those fun-colored reusable mugs definitely are.

This year for Earth Day, start a trend; use less one-time-use items, join in on the March for Science and read up on climate change. Do what you can, and then keep doing it again and again and again. Form a habit that’ll help save the environment. The little things add up more than you think.