The slowdown of human activity for the better part of 2020 brought us a glimpse of what could happen when we change our habits and reduce our carbon footprint.
Beginning early February 2020, air and car travel decreased significantly, meaning less fossil fuel production from vehicles. Businesses closed or operated with reduced hours, lowering carbon emissions so much that satellites from space could visibly see smog and nitrogen dioxide pollution reduction of up to 60 percent (American Geophysical Union).
There was a revival of nature and wildlife sightings. We all heard the tales — sheep grazing in empty playgrounds in Wales, coyotes roaming the Golden Gate Bridge, and deer exploring grounds not far from the White House. Mount Everest, whose base is less than 100 miles from Kathmandu, Nepal, could be seen from the city for the first time in decades.
Yet the sharp decline in emissions barely put a dent in the environmental issues plaguing the planet and as life goes back to normal, inevitably so will emissions. Collectively, we have a long way to go, but there are little things that anyone can do to keep this small amount of progress moving forward.
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- Use reusable shopping bags. Do it for the animals. According to Waste Management, 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually, whether by entanglement or mistaking a bag for food. If your area favors plastic bags at checkout, kindly ask for paper, or better yet, bring your own bag. Reusable also tends to be larger and can hold more than a single gallon of milk, which means fewer trips to bring the groceries in from the car. Your back will thank you too.
- Choose organic and local foods. Shopping for local and in-season foods helps save on the amount of fossil fuels required to transport food a longer distance. Plus, food will be fresher and ultimately healthier.
- Fly Carbon Neutral — Flying for business and pleasure to get where we need to go is unavoidable. But opt to fly with a company that will help you offset your carbon emissions by contributing to a project that in turn reduces greenhouse gasses in another way or location. For example, Private Jet Services (PJS) is America’s first carbon-neutral private aviation company and is committed to a 100% offset of the carbon emissions generated by its flights and has already commissioned the planting of over 72,000 trees since 2020.
- Find Accommodations That Give Back — Many travel companies, resorts, and hotel groups have programs set up to give back. The Coconut Traveler is one example of a service-driven travel organization that creates bespoke Hawaiian experiences that sustain the local community, economy, and environment. All of the Coconut Traveler’s itineraries also include pricing to offset carbon emissions resulting from the journey to Hawaii.
- Wash Clothes With Cold Water — Most clothes can easily be washed in cold water, regardless of label directions. Many detergents are also designed to clean better in cold water. Switching just two loads of laundry per week from warm to cold water would save approximately 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
- Turn It Off & Unplug — When leaving a room for more than 1 minute at a time, simply switch the lights off. Take it a step further by unplugging electronics or appliances when not in use. Plugged-in devices can still produce small amounts of energy, resulting in an additional $100-200 per year on your electrical bill.
How else are you giving back as we celebrate Earth Day 2021? Repost this article and tag us to tell us how.