On April 22nd the world celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the one day a year we reaffirm our commitment to understanding our planet’s interconnected systems and to protecting it for future generations.
American Architecture firm CannonDesign has put together a list of ideas, activities, and contributions you and your family can make to participate too (even while #shelteringinplace). If you’re overwhelmed, try doing just one every week.
1. Donate blood. Even during the coronavirus epidemic, donating blood is safe and saves lives. Visit the Red Cross for more information.
2. Plant some food. Start that herb garden in a window box or germinate some veggie seeds for a summer harvest. You can even collect a handful of seeds from neighborhood trees and scatter them in appropriate places.
3. Save water. Try taking a shorter shower or carry a bucket in with you and use that water in your yard or neighborhood park.
4. Save some energy. Your hot water heater uses 20 percent of your monthly energy use. Try turning the heat setting down such that you don’t need to add cold water while in the shower.
5. Save more energy. Your thermostat probably has schedule settings built in. Learn how to use them and you’ll save up to $180 a year in energy savings.
6. Use a solar clothes dryer. Electric clothes dryers eat 10 percent of all of your home’s energy. Installing a clothesline will save you around $200 a year (and keep your home cooler).
7. Make a pinecone and peanut butter bird feeder. Hang it up near a window so you can see watch the birds enjoying it. (LINK)
8. Paint some stones. And sprinkle them around your neighborhood in fun places.
9. Make a treat. Bake some cupcakes with little earth decorated tops. (LINK)
10. Make some noise. Make a wind chime from some decorated tin cans from the recycling bin. (LINK)
11. Save plastic. Decorate your reusable water bottle to make it your own.
12. Go meatless. Save some carbon and your health by trying a “meatless Monday” where you skip meat one day a week.
13. Substitute meat. Look at your regular shopping list and see what vegetarian substitutions you can make (such as using eggplant instead of chicken.) (RECIPES)
14. Save waste. Try to go an entire day without producing any waste. You can recycle, repurpose or reuse. Just don’t throw anything away.
15. Drink wine. Hold an “Afterwork Wine Wednesday” with your teammates sampling some biodynamic wines. (LINK)
16. Support local. Next time you order from a restaurant, choose a locally owned business instead of a large national chain. (LINK)
17. Clean naturally. Instead of using toxic chemicals, clean your home using all-natural ingredients, like vinegar and baking soda. (RECIPES)
18. Build a better feeder/doghouse. Design a bird feeder or doghouse for your yard (if you have one). (IDEAS)
19. Build a little free library. Convert an old small cabinet into a “little free library” for your block. (INSTRUCTIONS)
20. Reuse old clothes. Donate clothes you no longer wear to a local shelter or Goodwill.
21. Reuse old glasses. Donate your old eyeglasses to the needy. There are several services to do this, including VSP.
22. Shave the peak. Depending on where you live, your local utility company might offer a demand response program for electricity. (LINK)
25. Have a plant party. Get a bunch of friends together (over webcam) and have a plant potting party together. (LINK)
27. Get outside. Get outside and get some fresh air and count the number of different living creatures you see (plants included.)
28. Upcycle your clothes. Convert old clothes into something new. (LINK)
29. Light a candle. Make candles with coffee grounds. (LINK)
30. Offset yourself. Purchase carbon offsets to eliminate the emissions from your travel last year. (LINK)
31. Green your gas. Sign up for a Green Gas Card to offset all of your gasoline purchases. (LINK)
32. Time your lights. Dimmers, occupancy sensors, and timers are great DIY projects that save a surprising amount of electricity.
33. Upgrade your bulbs. If you haven’t already, replace incandescent bulbs with LED versions. The color and lifespan is better, too.
34. Learn something. Subscribe to Green Building & Design (gb&d) Magazine for free here.
36. Take a course. Take a free online course from Heatspring here.
37. Stop Junk Mail. The junk mail Americans receive in just one day could produce enough energy to heat a quarter of a million homes! If you saved up all the unwanted junk mail for one year, you would have the equivalent to one and a half trees, which would add up to 100 million trees every year in just the U.S. (LINK)
38. Sun patterns. Make leaf sun prints on fabric. (LINK)
39. Go renewable. Cant install solar? You can sign up to purchase renewable energy for your home right now. Find a provider here.
40. Get political. Call your Representatives and tell them to endorse a Green New Deal. (LINK)
41. Get a Green Map. Contribute to or create a green map for your city here.
42. Get real about impact. Calculate your personal carbon footprint here.
43. Check in. Check in on your elderly neighbors during this time. A kindness postcard is a great way to start. If you’re really ambitious, start a “neighborhood pod.”
44. Bike more. Sometimes we don’t bike as much as we want because it’s hard to get your bike out or it needs a repair. Set up your bike in a way that will encourage you to use it more. Commit to trying to ride it even once a week.
45. Skip plastic bags. We all have those reusable totes that they giveaway at conferences. Keep a few of them in your trunk so you actually use them on your next trip to the grocery store.
46. Help your local elementary school to plant a garden. Tips can be found here.
47. Brush without the faucet. You can save up to eight gallons of water a day just by shutting off the faucet when brushing your teeth.
48. Kill the vampires. Unplug appliances and equipment when not in use. It stops them from sucking energy even when off.
49. Wash cold. About 90 percent of the energy your washing machine uses goes towards heating the water. Do laundry in cold water instead.
50. Multiply impact. Doing something is only part of it. Tell your friends and family about your actions and encourage them to do the same.
Did we miss something? Well, just do it!
About Eric Corey Freed
As CannonDesign's Sustainability Director, Eric Corey Freed brings a unique combination of practical experience, academic research and thought leadership thinking to champion and optimize the firm's commitment to sustainability in all of its embodiments: how we design buildings, talk about them, operate our own sustainable business practices, and strengthen our overall commitment to corporate responsibility.
A recognized and inspirational voice, Eric has authored 11 books on sustainable building design, has been featured in media ranging from the New York Times and CNN to HGTV, Good Morning America and Sundance Channel, and has facilitated sustainable design workshops and discussions for more than 300,000 people. A practicing architect with an emphasis on urban design, Eric has contributed to the design of more than 40 LEED and net-zero projects, consulted on hundred more, and been named one of the 10 Most Influential Green Architects.
CannonDesign is an integrated Living-Centered Design firm. We leverage the heart, passion and intelligence of our more than 1,000 creative thinkers to develop solutions for some of the greatest challenges facing our clients and society.