Every year on April 22, starting in 1970, millions gather together in person or in action to honor the earth and celebrate Earth Day. Starting with only 20 million Americans, Earth Day went global in 1990, spreading to 200 million worldwide to ensure that environmental change was elevated as an international priority. In our home, now that we have little minds to influence and shape, we want to stress the importance of valuing our planet everyday. We teach about recycling, minimizing waste, turning off lights when we leave a room, and even the value of a garden. But linking this back to ways we honor the earth is of utmost importance. Our budding preschooler is enamored with the solar system and knows every planet. He honors the earth through his learning, now we want to provide him more ways to honor the earth with purpose.
How to Honor the Earth this Earth Day
The Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement and their mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Their site outlines countless ways to honor the earth this week, whether in person or virtually. It’s a great site to get motivated, inspired and take action!
- Reduce, reuse, recycle – Specifically your ecological footprint. Our ecological footprint is a calculation of how much of the “biological capacity of the planet is demanded by human activity or population.” Sounds intense, and it is. For the past 20 years, we have consumed more resources that we can replenish. And that is simply not sustainable. We want something to be around for our children and their children. What can we do now? Recycling can help. Our county recently expanded the recycling program making it easier than ever to recycle our waste. All plastics marked 1-6 are now accepted, and don’t have to be sorted. That includes milk cartons, yogurt containers and even produce containers (plastic clamshells). At our house, our recycling bin is usually 2-3x that of our non-recycled trash. Challenge yourself. Challenge your family. Can you recycle more?
- Eat less meat – While this is an easy one for us at Focused on Fit, having been pescatarians for nearly 7 years, this can be a struggle for most Americans. We have a dependency on meat in this country and our diet really doesn’t need it. We have been told we need to have an inordinate amount of protein in our diet, and humans truly do not need that volume of protein, particularly from animal sources. Not only are the health benefits amazing for the individual – lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lower risk of cancer – but the reduction of the biological footprint is amazing. “If one person chose to eat one less burger a week, it would be the equivalent of taking a car off the road for 320 miles. And if the entire U.S. did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.” Stumped on what to make on your Meatless Monday? There are countless recipes in our database offering high protein options that are plant-based. Our favorites include the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers with a Kick – perfect for the warmer weather on the grill; or the Southwest Tofu (our knockoff Chipotle Sofritas) – perfect for Cindo de Mayo!
- Grow your own food – Last weekend was simply beautiful here in Virginia, and we spent most of it outside. While I am not the gardener in the family, I am thrilled that Nate has established a sizable garden for us every year. We grow fruits and veggies 2/3 of the year, including kale, beets, Swiss chard, potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, green beans and even asparagus. It is delicious, affordable and a great way to show our children the value of the earth and the health benefits of veggies. While we haven’t created the best eating habits yet, our preschooler does love to pick the vegetables out of the garden, especially the ones that he helped to plant! If you don’t have the space for a garden, plant a tree or donate to plant a tree. It is the most efficient way to fight climate change and honor the earth!
- Eat less processed foods – Since late January, I have adopted this philosophy for health reasons. To lose weight, consume less preservatives and chemicals and to consume less added sugar. But those were all my personal benefits. After thinking about it, eating less processed foods is a great way to honor the earth. By choosing to eat a graham cracker or tortilla chip, I am supporting an industry that requires an immense amount of energy to produce these products. And these processed foods incur an enormous amount of waste. They are usually individually packaged in plastic wrappers or bags, which are usually not recyclable. Why not eat more whole foods, like an apple or banana, and compost that waste into the earth. Plus for me, while the apple and the graham cracker are about equal on caloric intake, the apple is much lower in sugar and much higher in fiber. I will feel better inside and out, if I make this choice to honor the earth.
- Stop using disposable plastic – We are addicted to plastic. In 2002-2012, we produced more plastic that we produced in the entire 20th century. That is unbelievable. And what is alarming, which I never really considered until recently, is that plastic never goes away. It doesn’t biodegrade like wood or paper, it will always be around. ALWAYS. Not only do we have to recycle, but we need to reduce our dependency on plastic and use less plastic. Use reusable bags when we shop (I need to keep them in my car for my almost daily trips to the store), don’t purchase 1-time use water bottles, and use glass or metal water bottles at home for drinking. My pledge for the family over the next month – no more plastic shopping bags, period. And I plan to switch out our plastic water bottles to stainless steel this year. My 2 favorite bottles so far – the S’well Insulated Water Bottle and the EcoVessel FROST Kid’s Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle. Both are reasonably priced and make great Mother’s Day gifts!
Our theme for April has been a plant-based life. While we are usually focused on the health benefits of our lifestyle, a choice for a plant-based life can be so much more – honor the earth this month, register with us, and we can help make a difference for you personally and beyond.