It’s a big deal, a very big deal that has now tied together the environment, climate change, even diet all under the Earth Day umbrella and its 3Rs, reduce, reuse, recycle. Just this week came Time Magazine’s “Earth, Inc.” and Nutrition Action’s “The Planet Lover’s Plate.”

It all started back on April 22, 1970 when then Senator Gaylord Nelson’s launched the first Earth Day and inspired some 20 million of us to fully appreciate Earth’s fragility and march in its name.

I was among them.

We were one that day, united in our concern for our “home.” At the time, the good senator said, “Our goal is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all human beings and all living creatures.”

Fifty-two years later, some one billion of us now recognize Earth Day with hopes that we we may one day find our way back to that goal and do our part. These sobering facts serve as a wake-up call:

  1. NASA says that Greenland lost 279 billion tons of ice every year between 1993 and 2019, while every year Antarctica lost about 148 billion tons.
  2. According to National Geographic, “15 billion trees are cut down worldwide each year.”
  3. National Geographic finds that it takes about 450 years for just one plastic bottle to break down.
  4. The World Health Organization tells us that “91% of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution exceeds WHO guidelines.”

We need to do better, each one of us in our own small way. For instance, we can…

  • Buy reusable grocery bags and shopping totes. Reportedly, just one “can prevent the use of 600 bags during its lifetime.”
  • Walk instead of driving when distance and weather permit. Walking just one mile prevents almost one pound of air pollution.
  • Go shopping—the in-person kind. COVID forced us to stay put for a long time and rely on tech to send all sorts of goodies our way. Convenient, yes, but impersonal and isolating, plus while transporting an item to a distribution center like FedEx or a brick-and-mortar store produces the same amount of carbon emissions, the similarities end there because:
    • 12% to 60% of home deliveries require more than one delivery attempt.
    • For next day delivery, airplanes are called into service, releasing more carbon emissions than any other mode of travel.
    • In a physical store, we get to touch, hold up, try on, and assess the quality, sizing, and comfort of an item. If it doesn’t measure up, it goes right back on the rack/shelf. A screen shot can’t do that and often disappoints upon arrival. Then back in the box for a costly return—40% vs. 7% of store-bought purchases.
    • Many returned items are tossed into the trash amounting to some 5 billion pounds of landfill waste.
    • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all those boxes “make up the largest share of packaging waste—some 33.3 million tons of it, 940,000 tons of it ending up in landfills.

Oh, yes, when you do head out, make it a “group chaining” trip. In other words, group all your errands and/or activities in one big trip, going in order of location.

And keep reducing, reusing, and recycling at home, school, and the workplace, Earth’s custodian.