Just as January 1st provides an excuse to examine yourself and make a few New Year’s resolutions, Earth Day on April 22 provides the perfect time to check in with your greenness and decide where to make some changes. We’re assuming you recycle and maybe even compost; you might have even gone energy-efficient in your light bulbs, appliances and car. That’s great! But as usual, there’s almost always more you could do. Cheer up, though! We created a three-point plan for you.
1. Learn and Take Action
Last fall, the New York Times began compiling this resource addressing that vastly huge, enormously confusing topic: Climate Change. The piece proves that despite its daunting dimensions, all that information can actually be broken down into bite-sized pieces. In fact, you can read it in one sitting.
Of course, educating yourself is only the first step. Each of us has to start making some of the changes the article suggests: take fewer airplane trips or consume less (or no) meat. We also have to believe that we’re making a difference– for better and for worse. To address the latter, Earth Day Network offers a footprint quiz that takes about 10 minutes to complete and tells you in cold, hard numbers how many global acres are supporting your lifestyle on this planet, as well as how many Planet Earths would be needed if everyone lived the way you do.
2. Localize your life
You know the phrase: think globally, act locally. Start with your shopping habits. Support your local farmer’s market. If you don’t have one, check whether your nearest supermarket offers produce that’s been sourced closer to home, as Safeway started doing several years back and as Whole Foods has been doing for even longer. If your store doesn’t offer that, ask the manager why not.
Even if you don’t feel like you can stop climate change, as a Net Impact member, you know you can make a local impact. You can do shoreline cleanups and park beautification projects one Saturday a month. If you have more energy to commit to a cause, research the needs central to your community. Food banks, homeless shelters, wildlife rehabilitation centers, refugee-transition networks– the opportunities are vast. One of them is just waiting to hear from you.
3. Hold yourself and others accountable
Vote. And not just every four years; midterm elections are arguably more important than the more publicized presidential ones. Just look at history to see that big federal changes have often trickled up from state-level politics. You can attend a city council meeting or tune in to the local broadcast. Speak to your representatives directly through social media, email, or an online contact form and let them know what’s important to you. It might just change history.
Heed the advice of the NY Times article that we told you to read earlier and tell 50 people about all of this. Start a conversation about what you all will do to make a difference. Go a step further: tell us here in the comments section what your plan is to be a better Earthling. Because as the late Jim Rohn said: “If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree.” But you do love trees, right? So do something to save them and to save us and to save the future of all living things.