Simple, Impactful Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Last Update: May 15, 2024

With more time at home than ever before over the past year, maybe you planted a garden for the very first time. 

Maybe you made your groceries last a bit longer than you’re used to, experimenting with ingredients and stretching your grocery budget in fun, new ways. 

Maybe you took the time to look inward and consider what’s really important to you — things like your family, your health, and the welfare of our planet. 

When enough people make these small shifts, it can make a difference on a global scale; it starts to feel powerful, like we’re all working together, even when we’re apart. And eventually, these small things can add up to big things, like helping to reverse climate change and clean up our waterways.

The Impact of Environmentally Conscious Habits

Earth Day is a great time to experiment with small, thoughtful changes to your routine. Before you know it, they’ll become habits—and that’s when they’ll really start making a measurable difference. Best of all, it doesn’t take a total lifestyle overhaul to see big sustainability returns. For example:

If all Americans skipped meat for just one day each week, we would save 100 billion gallons of water per year. 

If one individual switched to a vegan diet for one month, it would prevent the creation of 900 pounds of CO2 gas

If the average person switched from drinking bottled water to a reusable water bottle, it would save approximately 1,460 single-use plastic bottles per year. 

Ready to get started? Read on for eight simple yet powerful actions you can take—starting today—to make a difference for the planet.

8 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

1. Swap out your single-use plastic

In 2018, landfills contained about 27 million tons of plastic, according to the EPA. While some single-use plastics can be recycled, many can’t—instead, they end up in these landfills, or worse, littered on the ground and in our waterways. Try cutting out some of the single-use plastics from your daily routine by making a few sustainable swaps:

  • Stasher bags instead of plastic sandwich bags 
  • Reusable lunch containers instead of plastic takeout containers
  • A reusable coffee mug instead of throwaway coffee cups
  • Bees Wrap beeswax food wrap instead of plastic wrap
  • A metal straw instead of plastic straws
  • A cloth shopping tote instead of plastic grocery bags
  • Dampened towels for wrapping and refrigerating fresh veggies instead of plastic-wrapped produce

2. Educate yourself about environmental issues  

Climate change is a complex and often overwhelming issue, but education is the most powerful tool we have toward combating it on a large scale. There are a number of compelling, informative documentaries that would be perfect for an Earth Day movie night. Seeding Change: The Power of Conscious Commerce debuts on Earth Day (Thursday, April 22) 2021. The documentary (in which Thrive Market is proudly featured) addresses how we can reverse the climate crisis through conscious consumerism, or supporting businesses that put the planet’s health first.

“My upcoming film, Seeding Change, is no doubt my most challenging in that it seeks solutions to the biggest problem humanity has ever faced: the climate crisis. However, there is a beautifully simple solution right at our fingertips. Empowering consumers to purchase from those companies that have solutions built into their business models is how we can make immediate and positive change for our planet.”
—Seeding Change director/producer Richard Yelland

3. Challenge yourself to a plant-based eating streak

The commercial meat industry is one of the largest sources of pollution in the world. The UN estimates that global meat production creates approximately 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. To produce just one pound of beef, it requires a massive 1,800 gallons of water. It takes lots of people making small changes to help combat our reliance on commercial meat; whether you switch to a completely vegan diet, only purchase your meat from ethical sources, or simply cut out meat for one day each week, these individual decisions can make a huge difference for both your health and the health of the planet. Earth Day is a great time to experiment with plant-based eating; here are some great ways to start.

  • Find even more vegan cooking tips, meal plan ideas, and recipes from this handy roundup 

4. Rethink your water consumption

Water is an essential part of human life, but unfortunately, not everyone has access to clean water — and those who do may not realize that their drinking habits are polluting the planet. Here are a few tips for making water more ethical for all. 

  • Switch to a lower-waste, more sustainable alternative to single-use plastic water bottles, like canned water from Richard’s Rainwater. The company sources its water domestically by capturing and filtering rainwater, cutting down on emissions created by importing water and offering a purer product than water sourced from a municipal water supply (two of the most common ways bottled water is sourced). Aluminum cans also are much easier to recycle than plastic bottles, as the process is less complex than the process it takes to recycle plastic, and metals have a higher rate of reuse.
  • Learn about PFAS (or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a type of man-made “forever chemical” that is found in many brands of bottled water, municipal water, and nonstick or water-resistant products. Though more research is needed, PFAS are being studied as potential carcinogens. This month, Thrive Market added PFAS to its list of non-compliant chemicals and substances, meaning that you won’t find it in any products on our site. Richard’s Rainwater’s bottled rainwater is one of the few packaged water brands that is guaranteed PFAS-free. 
  • Advocate for clean water for underserved communities by taking action alongside advocacy groups like Clean Water for All. This organization petitions to improve municipal water infrastructure, clean up waterways polluted by industrial agriculture, and ensure equitable access to clean water for all Americans. 

5. Get your hands dirty

If you spend most of your days behind a computer screen, Earth Day is the perfect occasion to take a hands-on approach to improving the world around you. They may seem like small steps, but these plant-centric ideas will help you make our Earth even a little bit greener.

  • Start composting. Did you know that food scraps in landfills generate methane, a dangerously powerful greenhouse gas? Instead of tossing out your food scraps (think veggie stems, coffee grounds, and eggshells), you can use them to create a compost that fertilizes and improves the health of your soil. Whether you live on a farm or in a small city apartment, there’s a compost option for everyone
  • Forage for your food*. There’s a whole world of delicious edible plants out there—you just have to know where to look. Follow in the foraging footsteps of Alexis Nikole (@blackforager on Instagram) and learn to identify the plethora of edible flowers, fungi, and wild herbs just outside your front door.
  • Propagate your houseplants. No outdoor space for a garden? Houseplants are a great alternative, and you can expand your urban jungle for free by propagating the plants you already have.
    • Take some cuttings from your favorite houseplants (about 4-6 inches long), and remove the leaves from the bottom of the stem. Submerge the stem halfway in water, then watch as new roots take form.
    • For succulents, simply remove a leaf and lay it flat on top of a pot full of soil (don’t plant it in the soil). Spritz the leaf with water only when it’s extremely dry. In a couple weeks, your succulent leaf will produce new roots. 

6. Clean up your digital carbon footprint

As our world moves online, unfortunately, so does our pollution. An increase in Internet users amounts to an increase in electricity usage and carbon emissions, adding to the ever-pressing problem of climate change.

Want to lessen your digital carbon footprint? Here are some tips:

  • Educate yourself about this pressing new issue so you can understand how to lessen your environmental impact.
  • Cut back on streaming music and videos, as these take up much more data than other types of internet usage. Instead, download songs and movies, or watch videos in lower resolution.
  • Studies show that storing unnecessary files in email or in cloud storage consumes a large amount of electricity, so you can easily clean up your carbon footprint by clearing out your cloud. 

7. Minimize food waste in your kitchen

Did you know that around the world, over one third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste? Not only is this an incredible injustice to those who are struggling with hunger, but this wasted food is responsible for 8% of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere

At home, you can do your part to reduce food waste by using all parts of your fruits, veggies, meats, and other groceries. Stretch your grocery budget and keep fresh food out of the landfill by regrowing the unused ends of your fruits and veggies. Here are a few simple options for kitchen counter propagating: 

  • Garlic sprouts. Grow your own garlic by simply placing a garlic clove in a jar of water. Prop it with one end out of the water. After a few days, it will sprout a green shoot that can be planted in the ground. 
  • Green onions. Slice the white ends off your green onions, making sure to keep the roots attached, and place them in a small cup of water. After a few days, the green parts will start to regrow.
  • Celery. Slice the last two inches off the end of a bunch of celery.  Place the root end in a shallow bowl of water, covering just about one inch of the celery. Place the bowl in bright, indirect sunlight until it starts to sprout leaves, then replant the whole thing in a pot of soil. 
  • Carrot greens. Cut the top inch (greens still attached) from a carrot, then place a toothpick on either side. Place the whole thing in a small cup of water so that just the very bottom of the carrot is touching the water, then watch as the greens start to regrow. (Tip: Use these leafy carrot greens to make pesto, to flavor chimichurri, in soups, or anywhere else you’d use a flavorful herb.) 
  • Romaine lettuce. Cut a bunch of lettuce about one inch from the bottom of the stem. Submerge the stem in a bowl filled with ½-inch of water, then place it near a sunny window. After a few days, it will regrow leaves that you can eat. 
  • Basil. Snip a cutting from a basil plant about four inches from the top, just below a leaf node. Place the cutting in a glass of water and place it on a windowsill, then watch as it sprouts new roots.

8. Align your grocery shopping with your values

One of the best ways to support the future you want to see is by “voting with your dollar.” This refers to supporting businesses with ethical practices that align with your values, whether that means only buying free-range meats or switching to regeneratively grown produce. You can shop by more than 70 values at Thrive Market — and there’s no better time than Earth Day to get to know a few of our most environmentally conscious labels. 

*Disclaimer: We do not recommend eating any wild plants, herbs, or fungi without proper identification by a health professional.

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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