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Posts tagged ‘sustainable living’

Happy Earth Day!

This week, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Even after 50 years, Earth Day is more important than ever. Earth Day symbolizes a global desire to protect the planet and inspires thousands of actions – big and small – every year. Importantly, Earth Day serves as a reminder that collective action can make a difference.

50 Years of Earth Day

Following the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson joined forces with Denis Hayes, and other environmental activists to create a day dedicated to environmental stewardship. The first Earth Day included 20 million people across the country in peaceful demonstrations and actions for the environment. The event saw the creation of the recycling symbol; moreover, Earth Day sparked large-scale action to clean up pollution, protect wildlife, and, eventually, fight climate change.

The first Earth Day sent a signal to the U.S. government, demanding direct action to protect the planet. As a result of the demonstrations, the United States had the momentum and support needed to create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shortly thereafter, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were passed to empower the EPA with key protections for the environment.

With billions of participants celebrating every year by holding garbage clean ups, tree planting, and other volunteer efforts, Earth Day is one of the most significant days of environmental action.

And these efforts are more important than ever. We know that the health of the planet and the health of our communities are inter-connected. 

In 2020, climate action is society’s preeminent environmental issue and is the theme that the Earth Day Network dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

“The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.”

The Earth Day Network on the theme for Earth Day 2020.

Indeed, the impacts of climate change– on vulnerable populations, on infrastructure and institutions, on disease vectors, on food availability & access, on public health, on the financial system — are wide-ranging and not dissimilar from what is happening now with the coronavirus pandemic. This is scary, but the good news is that we are showing how quickly we can mobilize to take action! And that too is one of the lessons from the first Earth Day 50 years ago today.

Read more

Going Green at Home: 8 Sustainable Actions You Can Do From Home

Although staying at home during a beautiful Utah spring is hard, social distancing and isolation are critical to “flattening the curve” as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads. Read more about how to prepare for COVID-19 on the City’s webpage.

Even though we are spending more time inside, we can all take direct actions to help protect the environment this spring.

8 Sustainable actions from the comfort of your own home:

  1. Fix the thing on your Fix-it List: While Utah Recycling Alliance regularly hosts Fix-It Clinics for the more challenging appliances and tools, there are many ways to tackle the smaller tasks from home. Consider sewing that button back on your shirt or tinkering with your old record player. Any small action you take to make use out of the old rather than buying new will help the planet.
  2. Lights Out for Birds: Although Salt Lake City’s Tracy Aviary is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 concerns, you can still show your love for birds. Two-thirds of migratory bird species migrate at night. Take the Lights Out Salt Lake pledge and turn off your lights between 11:00pm and 6:00am during March-May and August-September to help the birds find their way.
  3. Recycle Right: Recycling is one of the most important ways individuals can reduce their impact on the environment. Because there is an expected increase in household waste while residents are practicing social distancing, it’s more important than ever to recycle right. Check out our curbside recycle guides for a refresher. You can also watch this video from Ashley on our Education Team explaining what goes into the blue and brown cans.
  4. Turn Your Garbage into Art: Art projects are a great way to engage with difficult subjects. For example, the Washed Ashore nonprofit turns ocean plastic into beautiful sculptures to draw attention to plastic pollution. Check out Clever Octopus, the local Creative Reuse Center, for more inspiration on how to make use of old materials.
  5. Don’t Waste Food: Food choices make up 25% of Utah’s household carbon footprint. Don’t let food go to waste. Find out more about Composting and Dining with Discretion here!
  6. Plant Trees – With Your Phone! You can help reforestation projects through social media. Starting April 22, Cities4Forests is hosting a global photo contest. They have pledged to plant 1 tree for every photo. Find the participation rules here. You can also try out Forest, an app that keeps you on task and helps plant trees. You even get to choose the species of trees you’re planting!
  7. Go Pesticide Free! As you gear up for spring gardening, help protect the environment by going pesticide free. Take the pledge here! (we will be delayed in delivering a sign to you, but will do so as soon as possible!)
  8. Keep Your Carbon Footprint Low: Limited travel means lower carbon footprints. For those teleworking or staying home to protect our community, take comfort in knowing you are protecting public health and reducing your travel-related carbon emissions. You can take things one step further by implementing some of these energy saving actions at home.

BONUS ACTIONS:

  • Take the 2020 Census! The U.S. Census helps determine federal funding and resources for our community. Help ensure that Salt Lake City counts! You will receive an invitation with a unique ID number in the mail. This number can be used to take the 2020 Census online. More information is available here.

Plastic Free July is Here!

Have you been wanting to reduce the amount of plastic waste in your life, but needed a push to get started? Plastic Free July is the perfect time to cut out those unnecessary plastics.

Plastic Free July  logo.

What is Plastic Free July?

Most of us know that plastic is a big issue for the environment. Plastic pollutes our oceans, threatens wildlife, and introduces toxic chemicals into our environment. That’s where Plastic Free July comes in.

Plastic Free July is an international campaign that promotes reducing our use of single-use plastics. The movement began in Australia and has spread worldwide. Now, millions of participants are finding creative ways to substantially reduce the amount of plastic waste in their homes and communities.

Eco-friendly 4th of July

Summer is a time of celebration, picnics, and the 4th of July. Extra parties and holidays don’t have to mean extra waste. You can keep plastic out of your 4th of July festivities and all your summer celebrations!

Help make July plastic free by remembering these helpful tips:

  • Bring your own bags to the store: Whether you’re prepping your 4th of July barbecue or going on your normal grocery run, pack your reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags cannot be recycled in the blue bins, so bringing reusable bags makes a world of difference. While most people know to bring their own grocery bags, not everyone thinks to bring their own produce bags. Consider finding canvas or mesh bags for your fruits and veggies.
  • Use reusable containers/packaging: Another way to reduce your plastic use is by rethinking the packaging. You can pack meals in reusable beeswax wraps, or Tupperware containers. You can even bring your own containers when you’re shopping for bulk ingredients like nuts, trail mix, or baking supplies.
  • Bring your own reusable cutlery, glasses, and plates: Encourage guests to bring theirs from home, which saves you the dish washing.
  • Bake goods at home: Many snacks and desserts like chips, crackers, cookies, etc. come in individual plastic packaging. But remember: there’s nothing better than a homemade treat! Get creative in the kitchen and find a recipe online for tasty, homemade snacks for your gathering.
  • Make more eco-friendly swaps: Once you start to notice it, there are many plastic-free alternatives to the products we buy. For example, you can bring soda in cans instead of bottles or buy in bulk instead of individual packaging. If disposable plates/cups are an absolute must, use paper instead of plastic or Styrofoam.

Sustainable SLC

Going plastic free can seem daunting, especially when everything we buy seems to be wrapped in the stuff. It can be difficult to find places that accommodate a plastic free lifestyle. Thankfully, Salt Lake City has some great resources for your plastic free journey.

Hello! Bulk Markets

Hello Bulk is a package free grocery store where you bring your own containers and fill up on a variety of bulk goods. They carry the widest variety of bulk foods and household products in the area. They offer several options for baking goods, herbs and spices, beans and nuts, tea and coffee body care, cleaning supplies and a lot more. When you bring in your own container, Hello! Bulk will weigh the jar and get the tare. Then you fill up on all the goods, plastic free!  

Check out Hello! Bulk Markets at 355 N 500 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84116.

Animalia

A great local shop for all things sustainable is Animalia. Animalia boasts several handmade and sustainable goods, curated with conscious thought towards transparency in business, and artisans who take pride in their products. They feature several sustainable swaps to help you refuse plastic, from glass straws, produce bags, and reusable mugs. Animalia also has a refill station for body care and house cleaning items including shampoo, lotion, deodorant, dish soap, laundry detergent, and more.

You can visit Animalia at 280 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.

Animalia bulk items

Thrift Shops

Clothes might not seem like much of a culprit for plastic, but plastic shows up in surprising ways. Many synthetic fabrics including polyester, nylon, acrylic, faux leather, suede, and fur, are all actually plastic. Washing these fabrics releases tiny plastic fibers. These fibers can make their way into the ocean, threatening sea life and our food chain.

What’s worse is that many of these synthetic fabrics are used in fast fashion items – garments that are worn for a short amount of time and then never used again. Fast-fashion can be anything from a trendy branded sweatshirt, to a faux-leather statement bag.

While not specifically single-use, clothing still contributes to the plastic problem. Buying used from vintage and thrift stores is a great way to give old items new life, and prevent new plastics from entering the waste stream.

Your Local Grocer

There are many other grocery stores that offer items in bulk, mainly snacks, grains, and spices, including national chain stores such as Whole Foods, WinCo, Smith’s, and Sprouts. Some stores may have policies against bringing containers from home, however; so be sure to ask whether you’re allowed to bring your own container. Some people suggest bringing canvas or mesh bags instead of jars to help lighten the load.

Join the Plastic Free July Challenge

Go plastic free this month and join the millions of others dedicated to keeping our streets, oceans, and planet clean. Small actions done by many can make a huge difference in the long run.

Learn more about Plastic Free July at https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/ and take on the challenge. Find stories on how others have reduced their use of single-use plastics at home and in their communities. They also feature several helpful tips on how you can go plastic free this month (and year-round)!