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10 free ways to make a difference during Earth Month

Earth Day is April 21, but Earth Month is a month-long emphasis on the planet, sustainability and how you can make the world a better place.
Credit: AP
This May 18, 1969 photo made available by NASA shows Earth from 36,000 nautical miles away as photographed from the Apollo 10 spacecraft during its trans-lunar journey toward the moon. In March 2021, the U.S. space agency announced that new telescope observations have ruled out any chance of the asteroid Apophis colliding with Earth in 2068. (NASA via AP)

Every year on April 22, people around the planet celebrate Earth Day. The first Earth Day was 51 years ago in 1970.

According to EarthDay.org, Americans were consuming vast amounts of leaded gas through massive automobiles. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of the consequences from either the law or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. At that time, most of America remained largely oblivious to environmental concerns and how a polluted environment threatens human health.

By 1990, Earth Day had become global. Today, Earth Day is widely recognized by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national, and local policy changes.

Earth Month brings attention to this need for change for the entire month. Here are 10 things you can do to make a difference that cost absolutely nothing:

  1. Follow the 3 R's: Look for ways you can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle throughout your home. You’ll save natural resources, energy and money.

  2. Conserve energy at home: From turning off lights and electronics when not in use, to using a programmable thermostat, to changing your air filter regularly, there are many small things you can do to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while saving money on your utility bills.

  3. Reduce paper waste: Think twice before printing things at work and home. You can reduce your mail by using online payment options that avoid paper bills.

  4. Recycle your electronics: Your old, unused, or broken computers, tablets, phones, and other electronics can often be recycled for free by stores, manufacturers, and local governments, which saves natural resources while also reducing pollution.

  5. Give your car a break: Driving to work or running errands, occasionally leave your car at home. Maybe you can walk, ride a bike, carpool, or take public transportation. You'll save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and get more exercise.

  6. Turn off the water: Whether you're brushing your teeth, washing dishes, or taking a shower, turn off the water when it's not needed.

  7. Bring your own bags: Use a backpack or bag from home, or buy reusable bags that you can use again and again.

  8. Buy local: Buying local produce and other items reduces shipping distances from food sourced overseas, and also supports local businesses and communities.

  9. Go on a beach clean: If you want to help get rid of some of the plastic waste in your area, going on a beach clean is a great and fun way to do this.

  10. Farmer's market: Farmer's markets are a great way to get fresh produce and are beneficial in many ways. Firstly, they support local businesses, encouraging positive growth in your area. They also tend to use a lot less, or even no plastic packaging compared to supermarkets, so it helps reduce waste. Finally, the products are grown or made locally so transport distances are very short and CO2 emissions are low. 

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