6 simple actions we can take from home this Earth Day

Climate Change & Disaster Recovery | Clinton Climate Initiative, Too Small to Fail

What positive action will you take at home to make an impact on the environment this Earth Day?

In the context of COVID-19 while many people are under advice to stay home and social distance, the Clinton Climate Initiative and the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail initiative has prepared a simple list of several actions that you and your family can take today to help support the environment.

1. Slow the spread with an environmentally-friendly facial covering

A person folds a bandana into a face mask
A bandanna, hair ties, and a few folds are all it takes to make your own mask.

Earth Day celebrations and COVID-19 precautions do not have to be mutually exclusive. Without many shopping options available and saving the professional gear for the professionals, a quick and environmentally friendly way to fashion a face covering is to repurpose commonly found household items. A bandana and a couple of hair ties are one of the simplest and easiest methods if you do not have a sewing kit or machine. Just remember to wash these items frequently!

Here’s a quick step-by-step from Ashley Echols, who works in the Clinton Climate Initiative. You just need a bandana, two hair-ties, and a little creativity.

2. Talk about planet earth with the littlest learner in your life

Illustration with a globe in the center that says "let's talk about the earth." Around it are illustrated animals and various conversation prompts.

A new resource focused on the environment and mother earth is now available from our Too Small to Fail Initiative! You can find it at TalkingIsTeaching.org.

It’s a great tool to start educating the youngest minds on the impact we can all have on taking care of our common home and ensuring a bright future for everyone.

3. Turn off your water and lights!

Close-up of a hand turning off a light
Photo: WendellandCarolyn — Getty Images

One simple way to reduce the amount of electricity used in your home is by turning off lights when you leave a room. If every household in all of New York City turned off 1 light for an extra hour a day, it could save as much as 154 million kWh annually, the equivalent of taking 23,600 cars off the road for an entire year!

The average household has anywhere between 20–40 electronic devices plugged in during the day. Even if these devices are not switched on they are still drawing what’s called “phantom power”. As many of us are working from home, remember to not only turn off devices at the end of the day but also unplug them when you can. It will help lower your energy bill, too.

Water also plays a major role in our daily lives. The average American household uses more than 300 gallons of water every day. While it may seem that our planet has an abundance of water, less than 1% of that is actually fresh and accessible for human use. A single person can save more than 4,000 gallons of water per year by turning it off while brushing their teeth or washing their hands (for a full 20 seconds).

4. Switch out single-use plastics for reusable alternatives

Close-up of person walking on beach with plastic debris
Photo: Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

Single-use plastics are harmful to all of the earth’s inhabitants and takes years to break down once disposed of. Many state and local governments acknowledge these dangers and have begun to ban these items. Making simple swaps like reusable water bottles and bags can do a world of good when we all pitch in.

5. Celebrate the great outdoors — virtually!

A wide shot of a wind turbine on an island
The Clinton Climate Initiative works to support island states to transition to renewable energy. Some of the most scenic locations in the world are leading the way forward.

Because we live in a technology-driven world, we don’t even have to leave our homes to experience nature. A fun and easy way to “get outside” while cooped up in the house is to explore the street views of Google Maps or using Google Arts & Culture.

You and your families can also take a “virtual vacation” swimming in the Great Barrier Reef, trekking through the Amazon Rainforest, or falling asleep under the Northern Lights.

These experiences can be valuable educational tools for children and adults, alike. They can also scratch that travel itch many of us have been feeling lately.

6. Go green — start a garden and compost

An individual stands in a garden and holds up plants
Clinton Global Initiative partner Para la Naturaleza demonstrates how they are raising saplings to reforest areas in Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Gardening is not only a fun hobby to try at home, but is also a great way to protect the environment and reduce your carbon footprint. The plants and vegetables we grow enrich the air with oxygen while reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. A quick start guide to composting can be found at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Growing your own vegetables, especially during stay-at-home orders and in efforts to socially distance, can also reduce the number of trips you and your family will have to take to the grocery store. If you live in a city or a small space and don’t have access to an outdoor area, growing herbs on a windowsill is an excellent alternative.

Bonus: Foundation partners are spearheading programs to improve overall environmental health and celebrate our planet – see how you can support:

  • Para la Naturaleza has created reforestation and habitat restoration programs focused on the recovery of the vital ecosystems of Puerto Rico that were decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
  • The Timberland Company and Smallholder Farmers Alliance are coordinating and executing the planting of 25 million trees in Haiti over the next five years while expanding their social enterprise model to support an additional 12,000 smallholder farmers.
  • The Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance is coordinating and executing the planting and maintenance of one million trees across the Caribbean region.
  • The 5 Minute Beach Cleanup Foundation, through the Ocean Heroes program, is educating elementary students about reducing plastic pollution in oceans and how students can become agents of change to impact their community.