Do you drive an electric car, subsist on lentils, and refuse to throw anything away? Is your library stocked with dog-eared copies of Silent Spring, A Sand County Almanac, and The World Without Us and your home outfitted with solar panels, smart switches, beehives, and compost galore? Then you might just be a hardcore environmentalist!
The Better Earth campaign is definitely for you.
And we know that you’d do anything to help the planet, so we’ve come up with a list of 11 uncommon actions that will help you lighten your footprint even more.
1. Make your own soap
You’re perfectly aware of the dangers of chemical additives, micro plastic beads, and plastic packaging that comes with most commercial soaps, but have you ever consideredmaking your own? An age-old practice, soap making was once a common skill. And making your own will help you ensure that your suds are totally sustainable. You’ll be able to choose your ingredients wisely, using the best locally sourced, eco-friendly ingredients you can find. Plus, just one batch can keep you and your family abundantly clean for months! Nervous about working with lye? Just do your research, invest in the proper gear (most of it can be found at your local thrift store), and follow all safety precautions. You’ve got this!
2. Start a worm farm
You’ve been composting for years, but why not take it to the next level by letting creepy-crawlies do the work for you? Getting started is the hardest part, but once your worms are settled into their new home, they can eat 1/2 of their weight in food scraps every day. So if you start with 1 lb. of worms (which we recommend), they’ll eat 1/2 lb. of scraps! Most of the same rules apply to vermicomposting as do to the garden-variety kind, so if you’re already a composting pro, this will be an easy peasy way to build a steady supply of the good stuff.
3. Build a plastic bottle greenhouse
You know how it takes hundreds of years for plastic to break down? Well, some intrepid gardeners have come up with a way to use that unfortunate fact to their advantage by creating sturdy, long-lasting greenhouses. We know you avoid plastic at all costs, but plenty of others don’t. So take a deep breath, paste on a big smile, and give your neighbors, friends, family, or even local restaurants special bins to fill with uniformly sized plastic bottles. Chances are, they’ll be glad to get rid of them, and you’ll eventually have enough (1400, to be exact) to build this awesome greenhouse. After you’ve completed the project, you can serve a meal made exclusively from greenhouse grown veggies and gently educate them on the importance of cutting plastic out of their lives.
4. Make your own beeswax wraps
And speaking of cutting plastic out of our lives, we’ve got a genius solution for wrapping up leftovers, transporting snacks, and more: beeswax wraps! Making them is simple: all you’ll need are fabric scraps, beeswax, jojoba oil, and pine resin, along with some basic kitchen supplies. Pine resin can be found any time a pine tree falls down or loses a branch. But before you go around scraping trees, be sure that you aren’t stealing. Resin serves a purpose, after all, sealing in wounds and providing protection from insects, bacteria, and fungi. Only harvest the resin that has dripped onto the bark well below the area of injury, or from trees that have fallen. And if you’re afraid to harm your favorite woody friends, consider sourcing it from a sustainable harvester.
5. Set up a laundry-to-landscape Greywater system
As you know, greywater is our dirty secret. Containing traces of dirt, food, grease, and household cleaning products, it gets diverted straight to our septic systems, after which it is released into rivers, lakes, and estuaries. And unfortunately, even the most innocent greywater can quickly pollute and damage aquatic environments. Slow the flow and cut down on water waste by setting up a laundry-to-landscape greywater system. An easy starting point for greywater newbies, this system doesn’t require any alteration of household plumbing and can be customized with ease.
6. Find (or start) a repair cafe near you
It’s no secret that we throw away way too much stuff, and that while knowing how to repair things was once common knowledge, many of the skills necessary to do so have fallen by the wayside. That’s where repair cafes come in: open to the public, they're inclusive events where knowledge, tools, and materials are shared freely with anyone that has something in need of fixing. From clothes to furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, and more, there likely will be someone there who can help you fix it. If not, they can direct you to a professional. In a world that feels like it’s slowly being drowned by the tide of consumerism, repair cafes are a welcome harbinger of resilience and community building!
7. Fight vampires
Put the garlic away, because we’re talking about the energy kind! In many homes, electronics are left plugged in all the time, secretly stealing ghost power, burning up fossil fuels, and hijacking your electric bill while you’re at work. That toaster doesn’t look so innocent now, does it? Fighting these vampires won’t require facing off with Dracula—no, instead you’ll have to vanquish an even scarier demon: your habits. So turn the lights off every time you leave a room, unplug all unused electronics, and consider investing in smart strips to get more control over your electrical usage. We know you already know this, but it's such a persistent issue that it bears repeating.
8. Commit to buying at least 50% of your food from local sources
When large swaths of rainforest are cut down every day to fill our plates, and then 1/3 of that gets wasted, it’s pretty clear that there’s a problem. You’re probably already getting at least some of your food locally, but with some smart tweaks, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a fully-fledged locavore. So support those local farmers and keep it simple—life is sweeter that way, after all.
9. Idle no more
We get it—in many parts of the world, cars are a necessary evil. Maybe you live rurally and lack access to reliable public transportation. Or maybe you’re just lazy (kidding!). Whatever the reason, you’ve got a car named Betsy and you ain’t letting her go. There are still tweaks that you can make to waste less gas and lower your impact if you drive a gas or diesel powered vehicle. They include regular maintenance and air pressure checks, unloading any heavy cargo asap, avoiding sharp acceleration and heavy braking (we see you, Mr. Road Rage), cooling down with open windows instead of AC, and turning off your engine any time you’re stuck in line for longer than 1 minute.
10. Skip a wash
No need to wash that pair of pants you wore to the office—just spot clean it if necessary. Most washing machines waste a lot of water, and most loads are filled with clothes that don’t need it. Do your part for nature and hold off on laundry day until you’ve got a full load of truly dirty garments. And while you're at it, go old school and string up a clothesline to save on dryer-induced electrical costs.
11. Plant all the trees
We know you love forests—you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t! Take your love to the next level and become a tree ambassador with us! Planting trees stabilizes the soil, slows the flow of water, moderates temperatures, provides a home for people and wildlife, and so much more!
We hope you enjoyed this list. Want to learn more about what we’re doing to help the earth? Check out our current projects!
We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?
by Meaghan Weeden