Illustration by Allegra Lockstadt.

Earth Day is RIGHT around the corner. I like to think of it as an opportunity to practice gratitude for our planet and to take action to protect it. If you are, like me, wanting to be more environmentally aware but it’s not in your power to make a complete lifestyle change, here are some things you can do—and keep doing after April 22—to be kinder to the Earth on the daily.

Reduce car usage and start biking.
I know you already know this one, but it’s a classic #gogreen tip because it’s great. I pretty much detested biking until I put effort into decorating my bike. I found a basket and a bell and spent a beautiful spring day constructing my dream wheels. For the rest of the summer, I had my own reliable form of transportation that I could take with me pretty much everywhere. For those who are aesthetically inclined, I totally recommend embellishing your bike as an incentive to ride it. If you’re in the market for a bike, be sure to check out local secondhand shops and garage sales: I found mine at a pawn shop for cheap.

Thrifting literally puts the “reuse” in our Earth Day mantra REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE. It’s not only good for our planet, but also for your wallet. Dispel the idea that clothes from the thrift store are somehow poorer quality than those bought at a mall. Smellier? Yes. Lower quality? Heck no. (And that smell will go away after the first wash, I promise!) Whether it’s a local secondhand store or a Value Village, thrift shopping provides you with totally unique pieces and a sense of pride in knowing that you’re preventing extra waste. Be sure to donate clothes, too.

Have a yard sale.
A yard sale is a way to make sure your belongings things get as much use out of them before they head to the landfill. If you haven’t congregated enough of your own things to sell, ask your friends if they want to conjoin powers and do a sale with you. Make a project of it: Sort your things into boxes—books, movies, toys—and make a few signs to put around your neighborhood. After you’ve priced and organized everything, SELL IT ALL AWAY!

Try to eat less meat.
Yes, pulled pork is SO good, but so is a well-made Caesar salad. My point is, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than driving does. I am in no way demanding that everyone go vegan right this instant, but reducing your intake of meat (especially red meat) could help combat the problems caused by livestock production. Consider having at least one vegetarian meal a week. If you’re not the primary cook of the household, ask your parent or guardian if they would be willing to cook vegetarian for a night, or suggest that you be the cook for the evening. Anna Fitzpatrick’s Tips From a Bacon-Loving Vegetarian offers some ideas for vegetarian meals. GET COOKIN’!

Buy a reusable water bottle or mug.
My personality is 98 percent coffee induced and I’m rarely seen without a cup in my hand. Just thinking about the hundreds of disposable cups I could have saved if I had only used a reusable mug is the stuff of my nightmares. I recently got myself a reusable thermos and I highly recommend. It may seem like a minor tip, but seriously, visualize the number of plastic and paper water bottles/cups you’ve thrown away over the past year and tell me that alone doesn’t make you want to bike to the nearest IKEA. Hot tip: Consider purchasing METAL mugs and water bottles as they are less breakable than glass and more durable than plastic.

B.Y.O.C: Build Your Own Compost.
Composting creates the best food for your garden. To build your own compost all you need is a container to place your compostable food in and a mix of green and brown plant matter. Brown material includes dry leaves, newspaper, and wood chips, while food scraps and weeds are considered green material. I wish I could suggest decorating your bin as an incentive, but I have yet to see a tutorial for beautifying composts. Make sure you have a smaller container that you can keep in the kitchen for you (and your family/housemates) to dump coffee grinds, egg shells, and potato skins into. When it gets full, dump the contents into your compost. If you want to decorate something, consider making a chart next to your bin with a list of food items that are (and are NOT) compostable.


Earth Day only comes around once a year and while it may unlock memories of wearing latex gloves to pick up litter in the schoolyard, it should also inspire us to be kinder to our planet. In the midst of our tense political and social atmosphere, it’s tough to take action toward preserving our Earth. But whether it’s biking, thrifting, composting (or all three!), there are, in the wise words of Paris Hilton, “Little things that people can do every day to make a huge difference.” Happy Earth Day! ♦