April 21st is Earth Day. You’ll no doubt see lots of articles and social media posts about it (including this one of course 😉 ), but what is Earth Day and do the actions we take today really make any difference?
Started back in 1970, Earth Day developed as a environmental campaign following an oil spill off the Californian coast that caused enormous damage to the ocean, coast and the wildlife that lived there. It’s now a huge environmental movement with thousands of partners around the world all working towards protecting the Earth. Which is fabulous. But since it first started 51 years ago, the Earth has continued to be damaged and we now find ourselves at crisis point – climate crisis! So is there any point to Earth Day?
Well yes, as if we all just throw in the towel, things will only get worse, not better! And as global awareness arises along with the temperature, then more effective action can be taken at government level, like in the US today where President Biden is holding a climate summit which is also good news, although obtaining consensus from different countries, followed by action is much harder than just sitting down and talking about it!
So is there any point in us as individuals taking action? The issue is so huge, does it really make a difference?
Well, yes, I believe it does. Because if everyone makes changes, even small ones, then it has a large collective effect. After all, we can only really be responsible for ourselves, not anyone else. But when we change, the world changes around us. Gandhi’s infamously misquoted quote is true 😉
There are many movements like Earth Day where you can find information, inspiration and guidelines for making a difference. Personally, I refer to The Earth Charter, 16 principles that are connected with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and promote health and protection to all life living on our beautiful planet. You can find out more on their website here.
So what changes can you make this Earth Day? Well, if you’re already eating a plant-based diet then you’re already making a massive difference. Although agriculture uses lots of resources and is far from perfect, it’s way less than animal agriculture* – plus a high percentage of crops are grown to feed livestock rather than people! If you’re not plant-based, then any reduction in animal product consumption makes a difference – that’s to your own health as well as the planet’s!
But if you’re already plant-based then that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done. Here’s a few things to be mindful of and actions you can take that will have a positive impact.
* eat seasonal
* grow your own (if you have space)
* eat locally produced products including crops like ancient wheats, traditional beans and seeds
* avoid fresh food flown across the world
* reduce your food waste by getting creative with leftovers or using apps like Olio to give excess to others
* buy dried products from refill shops to avoid plastic
* compost your veg scraps in your garden or use a community or council composting service
* use a veg box service or buy from a greengrocer with loose produce not packaged
* buy organic if you can – chemicals used in agriculture are devastating bee populations and ecosystem
Another really effective action is just to talk to others about why you’ve gone plant-based or reduced your animal intake. Having conversations really can make a huge difference; never assume that someone sees things the same way you do! I find making delicious plant-based food a real ice breaker – especially cake. Everything is easier with cake 😉
Of course there’s much more that can be done; these are just a few things that popped into my head. One of my key principles as The Sensitive Foodie is being sensitive to the world around me so I’m always trying to reduce my personal footprint. I’m always keen to hear of new ideas and suggestions, so please do share more for this list.
If we all take action, however small, it’s a positive contribution to caring for this beautiful world we live on. Not just for ourselves now, but more importantly for our future generations – we need to make sure that every day is Earth Day.
* For more information check out the EatLancet Report