Before the pandemic struck, many of us were championing low-waste lifestyles and eco-friendly living.

Things took a turn with the closure of refill bulk bins and sanitation requirements that relied on lots of single-use plastic. Understandably, care for community health trumped zealous eco-consciousness. While this past year has set us back on some of our eco-friendly strides, Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to revisit our passion for the planet. If you can, implement some of the following to celebrate Earth Day:

Go Vegan!

Well, not really. Even if you choose one night or day of the week to cut down on your dairy and meat consumption, this habit can have great effects on the reduction of carbon emissions and water waste. According to multiple sources, animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. And your pound of beef? That took 2,400 gallons of water to produce!

Paper Over Plastic

While many grocery stores no longer accept reusable grocery bags, your choice of bag can still make a difference. As many of us know, it is estimated that plastic bags take up to 500 years to decompose. Your paper bags can simply be tossed in your compost or recycled. If you wind up with too many paper bags for your recycling or compost, you can repurpose them for trash can liners.

Shop Second Hand

Even though we have seen a reduction in the amount of garage sales, second hand stores and multiple online apps provide an avenue for second hand shopping. Shopping second hand isn’t just good for your wallet, it reduces waste. Your clothes, appliances, and furniture all take an enormous amount of resources to be produced. More often than not, these items will end up in landfills. Shopping second hand lessens the demand on resource-heavy items and gives would-be-landfill items another life.

Rethink Reusable Items

Our reusable grocery bags, to-go mugs, and water bottles have been sitting on the shelf since March of 2020. This, paired with the general dread of Covid, has pushed us towards feeling a little blasé about our carbon footprint. Even if you can’t bring your favorite reusable mug to the cafe, you can use household products that are reusable and more sustainable. Think of the items that you use that often end up in your trash. For example: q-tips, cotton pads, cling wrap, paper towels, and napkins. All of these items have a more sustainable counterpart. There are reusable versions of q-tips and cotton pads (that are washable!), “unpaper towels,” beeswax wraps to cover leftovers, and cloth napkins.

If you have lost progress on your environmental goals this past year, you are not alone. Implementing gentle changes to your routine to celebrate this Earth Day can have a transformative impact.