If you’re reading this, you’re probably already a bit of an eco-warrior. You carry a reusable water bottle, take public transportation when you can, pick up trash on trails, and recycle your paper and plastic. You might even be that person that bikes to their local grocery store with their reusable bag ready to fill with organic produce and mason jars of almond butter.
No matter how hardcore you are about saving the planet, this Earth Day you can challenge yourself to level up your sustainable practices for a cleaner and greener year.
Reusable Water Bottle → Reusable Mugs and Straws
It’s 2018, and buying plastic water bottles is becoming a thing of the past. In fact, most of us probably spend more time with our reusable water bottles than we do our significant others. If you’ve mastered the art of carrying a water bottle around, it’s time to expand to reusable coffee mugs and straws. Most of us use ceramic mugs for coffee at home or in the office, but what about when the call of the drive through coffee shop gets too strong? Instead of stacking up paper cups and plastic lids, keep a travel mug in your car and wash it out (and put it back) when you get to where you’re going. For those iced coffee cravings, invest in stainless steel straws to cut back on plastic straw waste - more than 500,000,000 plastic straws are used every day in the US alone. Indulge in your guilty pleasure Venti Coconut Milk Caramel Macchiato without feeling guilt about adding to a landfill.
Recycling → Composting
Composting may sound like a gross or smelly way to reduce waste at home, but it’s actually just as easy as hauling your paper and plastic to the recycling bin every week. Learn how to compost at home by taking a class or watching composting videos - it’s as easy as drilling holes into a plastic storage bin. A happy compost bin doesn’t smell at all, and if you decide to add worms you get the added fun of having a pet! Give back to the earth with healthy soil for your garden and less wasted food scraps.
Organic Soap → Bar Shampoos and Conditioners
You buy organic or local soap to be good to your body, but you can also be good to the earth with your bathroom purchases! Ditch the plastic containers and try bar shampoos, conditioners, and shaving creams that work just as well and last a long time. Perfect for traveling (get around that pesky TSA liquid limit!) or home use, bar shampoos lather like a bar soap and leave your hair squeaky clean without a big bottle to drop on your toe in the early morning.
Repair Old Gear → Donate Old Gear
Most outdoor gear shops offer gear repair, patching, or parts replacement programs. Getting the most use out of your gear is one of the best ways to conserve energy and reduce waste as an outdoor consumer. When you have gear that no longer fits or you’ve finally decided to upgrade, consider donating your usable outdoor gear to a local outdoor youth program or gear shop gear swap. For many people, the cost of new gear can be a barrier to getting outside, so donating gently used outdoor gear not only keeps good equipment out of the trash but gets more people out and enjoying nature.
Leave No Trace → Volunteer Trail Maintenance
Hopefully as an outdoor enthusiast you’ve mastered the Leave No Trace Seven Principles to make sure we leave our outdoor spaces protected for future generations. If you’d like to expand your impact on your favorite recreation areas, consider donating some time to trail maintenance or other conservation efforts. You can find ways to donate time or money to local organizations at the Patagonia Action Works site, or look for local efforts through our partners at The Conservation Alliance or Access Fund. Bring your friends to an event and take your practice of leaving recreation areas the way you found them to leave them better than the way you found them - and get a fun outdoor workout from handling that Pulaski.
Celebrating Earth Day and caring about the planet doesn’t require any chaining of yourself to things - small changes in your daily practices can make a big difference in how reducing energy usage and waste. Cheers to Mother Earth (in a reusable cup, of course)!