Earth Day during lockdown feels different. Many of us are consuming less and enjoying the green spaces in our neighborhoods more. There has been an environmental silver lining to having fewer cars on the road. According to a recent report from the World Economic Forum, NO₂ (nitrogen dioxide) levels over cities in Europe and China have dropped by over 40% in just a few months — the equivalent of removing almost 200,000 cars from roads. NO₂ emissions mainly come from cars and power plants and are responsible for a host of respiratory diseases such as asthma. This dramatic improvement in air quality demonstrates just what an impact our lifestyle choices can have on the planet.
There’s also been a reclamation of spaces by wild creatures. Here in Boulder, Colorado, mountain lions are roaming the streets while in California, coyotes and bears have taken over the trails and campgrounds of a now-deserted Yosemite National Park. We are starting to see first-hand the effects of modern life on our natural world and we have an opportunity to make positive changes that can last for generations.
Massive public celebrations were planned worldwide for this 50th anniversary of Earth Day. But, due to the coronavirus pandemic, all the the action has moved online (find out more here.) If you have the means, consider donating to the environmental organization of your choice this Earth Day, so we can keep our planet healthy long after social distancing has ended. For inspiration, here are some non-profits and sustainable products aligned with the four elements.
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A healthy Earth begins with healthy soil, which serves as a vital ecosystem that supports plants, animals, and humans. Nutrient-rich soil not only grows our food; it also helps to regulate and filter water and serves as a habitat for billions of organisms and bacteria. Did you know many of our antibiotics are derived from dirt? It’s vitally important we keep our soil healthy and safe from erosion. Plus, rich, healthy topsoil produces higher-yield, more nutrient-dense food.
Donate Now: The Rodale Institute trains farmers on how to switch to regenerative organic agriculture practices in order to improve soil health and food supply, and educate consumers about how organic farming protects the planet. rodaleinstitute.org
Beneficial Product: 1/3 of all methane gas, a significant contributor to climate change, comes from landfill food waste. Want to start composting at home, but don’t know how to start or how make your compost truly valuable? Based on a Japanese technique of composting, Kenkashi is an indoor compost probiotic treatment that ferments—rather than rots—your food scraps. You can take your kitchen compost and transfer it directly to your plants or veggie patch, or sprinkle the flowerbeds in your apartment complex. $12 for 2.5 liter bag, kenkashi.com
Our planet is 71 percent water and 96 percent of that water is contained in our oceans. Oceans produce over half of the world’s oxygen, absorb 25 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide, and help protect the planet from climate change. Three and a half billion people depend on the ocean for food.
Donate Now: Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization focused on safeguarding our oceans: preserving marine ecosystems and fish supply, protecting endangered species, and fighting pollution. oceana.org
Beneficial Product: The GOPure Pod filters your tap water anywhere. Simply grab a reusable bottle, your GOPure Pod, and drink water safely wherever you go. The pod filters out heavy metals and optimizes pH levels. One pod lasts six months or 264 gallons of tap water. $25. gopurepod.com
Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere adds to the greenhouse effect, trapping heat on the ground level, which prevents the air from cooling down at night. If the Earth cannot regulate heat effectively, ground and ocean temperatures rise, which contributes to global warming. Methane gas from the oil and gas industry and livestock is also a potent greenhouse gas, 34 times stronger than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.
Donate Now: Clean Air Task Force is dedicated to lowering carbon dioxide emissions through transitioning to renewable energy sources. catf.us
Beneficial Product: Reducing or completely removing animal products (most notably beef and cow milk) from your diet can significantly reduce your methane and carbon footprint. A subscription-based multivitamin specially formulated for established and aspiring vegans, Earthseed Multivitamin features nine essential, ethically-sourced nutrients lacking from a vegan diet so you can feel your best while doing some good. Bonus: packaging is 100% compostable. $35/month, earthseedmultivitamin.com
Fires are a natural and important part of the environmental lifecycle, but climate change combined with forest management practices have contributed to a spate of devastating wildfires across the world, most recently in Australia and Northern California. The 2018 wildfires in California cost 88 lives, 8.7 million acres of forests, and $24 billion in destruction of homes and infrastructure.
Donate Now: Disaster Relief at the American Red Cross, which shelters and feeds families, delivers relief supplies and provides medical care to victims. redcross.org
Helpful Product: Bring a little bit of spark to your home with these essential-oil-scented sustainable soy candles housed in recycled glass. $12 - $29, makanastudios.com