Whether this upcoming Earth Day (which is April 22) has inspired you to become more environmentally conscious or whether the imminent threat of global warming has you feeling some type of way, finding easy ways to help the environment is top of mind for many of us. To be fair, the push to “go green” isn’t new; from palm oil to microbeads, you’ve probably heard about all the ways your household goods are hurting the Earth. So, is the solution to stop buying products that aren't sustainable? It’s not necessarily that simple — but if you put in the work, making the right adjustments to your life can make a world of difference.
Even with the best intentions, conscious consumerism is tricky and not without criticism. Like this recent piece from Quartz points out, making individual ethical purchases doesn’t address the larger incentives companies get when they continue producing unsustainably. As Alden Wicker writes, “Choosing fashion made from hemp or grilling the waiter about how your fish was caught is no substitute for systematic change.” On the surface that seems disheartening, but changes at both a systemic and an individual level need to happen in order for any major societal shifts to occur.
Think about it in the context of racism. (Another complex and heavy issue, I know. But bear with me.) Are there larger systems in place that continue to benefit or disenfranchise people based on race? Very much so. But does that negate the importance in recognizing your own, individual racial biases? Does it mean we should stop worrying about saying racial slurs and feel free to judge people on the color of their skin as each of us sees fit? Of course not. When it comes to problems that impact people personally and humankind as a whole (from racism to environmental issues), the solution is always far from simple.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Far from it, in fact. Here are eight ways you can be more eco-friendly on both a small and big scale in honor of Earth Day and, well, the Earth in general.