There’s never been a more crucial year to celebrate World Earth Day. As the climate emergency deepens and Covid puts the vulnerability of the planet in the spotlight, it’s never been more important to stop, look around us and mark a global day of environmental action.
World Earth Day falls on April 22, with an estimated one billion people - a seventh of the world’s population - across 192 countries taking part in Earth Day activities every year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
This year’s theme is Restore Our Earth - a fitting focus after the last 12 months. According to statistics, global CO2 emissions are now back at above pre-pandemic levels, despite lockdown’s 70 per cent reduction in vehicle emissions and pledges to do things differently post-pandemic.
Given the estimation that we need to cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 to keep global warming at 1.5°C, the challenge is real: “we are at the edge of a cliff,” Kathleen Rogers, president of earthday.org, has told Vogue. “If we don’t act now to reduce carbon emissions, there will be no way back.”
So how can you help? Here are 12 ways you can show your support.
One of the most important things we can do to help protect the planet is start at our own front door and helpfully, Earth Day organisers have produced a global map to show what’s happening in your postcode.
Filter by age group, language, event type and date range then zoom into your area for colourful suggestions. In London, events range from a virtual insight session around feature film Cheetah and Q&A with conservationists on Saturday, a children’s botany workshop from the South London Botanical Institute, and a webinar on achieving your organisation’s sustainability goals by 2030.
Spread the word
Organisers are keen for participants to be ambassadors and take messaging into their own hands, so Earth Day’s online toolkit includes all necessary materials to post on social media, write your own op-ed, or send a note to your network.
There’s are sections on organising teach-ins and clean-ups, and a graphics area with images to download for your poster or Instagram post. Organisers have even written some example paragraphs for using on your story or in your caption. For example: “Join me, and EARTHDAY.ORG in the fight to #RestoreOurEarth. We have the solutions, now we need you. Get started today by checking out the many resources here: http://ow.ly/oTBf50Dmcae.”
Suggested hashtags include #RestoreOurEarth #EarthDay #earthdayeveryday #plasticpollution #climateliteracy #takeaction and #Farmers4Earth.
Take a walk with Jane Fonda
If you’re an Apple Fitness+ user you’ll have known about its Time to Walk episodes for a while now. Each episode a celebrity guest takes listeners on one of their favourite walks as they share thoughtful stories, photos and music.
So far, the A-list line-up has included everyone from Dolly Parton to Shawn Mendes and this week’s guest is a very special star. To celebrate Earth Day, actor, producer, author and activist Jane Fonda will be putting on her walking boots, talking about everything from standing up to her fears to the power of taking action to fight climate change. Tune in for Apple’s greenest and most inspiring walk yet.
Interested to see what impact your lifestyle is actually having on the environment? Sign up for a Tred card. The sustainable banking company has just raised more than £1 million in crowdfunding and wants to be like Monzo for your carbon footprint - link your existing bank cards or switch to Tred’s green debit card (made out of recycled ocean plastic, obviously) and its app will instantly convert every pound you spend into the amount of CO2 emitted. It’ll then group your carbon footprint into useful categories like groceries and flights so you can see which aspects of your lifestyle contribute to climate change the most.
The idea is you can adjust your habits accordingly, and Tred lets you neutralise your emissions, too. The card’s personalised carbon offsetting subscription is tailored to your spending that month and offers the chance to offset your emissions through certified tree-planting schemes in Scotland. If you’ve had a planet-friendly month, it’ll plant a couple of trees. If you’ve had a travel-heavy month, it’ll plant a lot more.
Clean up your workout wardrobe
Burn calories, not bottles. Much of the flattering, figure-hugging activewear you see on the high street is made using non-biodegradable synthetic fabrics that are energy-intensive to produce and rely on fossil fuels. The fitness-wear industry hasn’t traditionally been kind to the environment but the good news is a new wave of sustainable labels are offering more planet-friendly alternative.
British clothing brand Tide + Seek ethically handmakes its planet-friendly leggings in Bali using high-tech Repreve fabric, with each pair containing 25 recycled water bottles, and affordable activewear brand Tala makes its best-selling collection, SkinLuxe, using 76 per cent recycled nylon. Meanwhile luxury activewear brand Silou, founded by former model Tatiana Kovylina and yogi Phoebe Greenacre, and Manchester-born activewear brand Contur both use econyl yarn, which is made of recycled fishing nets and ocean plastic.
Many of the big players are supporting Earth Day, too. Asics has just released a new fitness collection for Earth Day, with around five tonnes of textile waste - the equivalent of 25,000 t-shirts - recycled into new shoes. Look out for products with a sunflower icon symbolising the brand’s commitment to preserving the planet.
Meanwhile if you need a new bag for getting back to the gym, Built for Athletes has partnered with Ecologi to plant a tree for every one of its bags purchased. The latest edition, the Hero 2.0 backpack range, are fully water-proof and rip-proof and Ecologi’s work has seen 8,245 trees planted to date - a near six tonne carbon reduction.
Try some plant-based recipes
You’re cutting down on meat and re-considering your fish intake after Netflix’s hard-hitting Seaspiracy documentary. The next step to greenifying your diet: switching in more plant-based foods, or at least a couple of times a week at first.
Vegan recipes can sound intimidating but the key is finding ones you love that aren’t just lettuce and boiled vegetables - and preferably don’t take hours in the kitchen.
If you’re a cheese-lover, rejoice, because vegan cheese alternative Violife has a whole range of recipes that take less than 10 minutes. Switch your morning porridge for the chia breakfast bowl, your lunchtime sandwich for these rainbow veggie wraps and evening lasagne for a purple potatoes frittata. You’ll be a convert in no time.
Plug into nature
You may not have time to get in the kitchen today but you probably have time to plug into a podcast on your way to the pub. Sex Education’s Tanya Reynolds and Kedar Williams-Stirling are the latest guests on the planet-focused Call of the Wild podcast with Cel Spellman and WWF, which looks at how we repair our relationship with the natural world and avert the environmental crisis. The theme of this episode is food and deforestation.
Friends of the Earth’s How To Save The Planet podcast has fascinating episodes on sustainability in fashion and the connection between climate and racism, while new series Mind The Green Space explores the connection between green spaces, mental health and exercise. The series is a collaboration with Pedal 4 Parks, a project that’ll see five friends from London taking on the challenge of cycling the length of the UK over land and sea to raise awareness of green spaces across the UK this summer. Follow their Instagram page for progress updates and their documentary coming later this year.
Switch up your beauty products
It’s expected that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. The beauty industry is a large contributor to the problem and currently produces 120 billion units of packaging each year. But with a little due diligence, we can turn out act around. The Evening Standard’s best eco-friendly buys includes the UK’s first carbon negative beauty brand, Neighbourhood Botanicals, and Ren Skincare, which partners with charities such as Surfers Against Sewage and is focused on creating marine life-friendly formulas.
Other brands are joining the revolution. Wild is your brand for eco-friendly deodorant, Colgate’s new RecyClean brush has a handle made of 100 per cent recycled plastic, and Waken’s mouthwash is carbon neutral certified and packaged in a combination of post-consumer recycled and sugarcane plastic.
For planet-friendly lip balm, Tropic’s new product Lip Love is made from 95 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic that’s 100 per cent recyclable, and let Clean Reserve be your sustainable fragrance. Its new perfume, Lush Fleur, is crafted with responsibly sourced ingredients and housed in eco-conscious packaging and the brand is currently sponsoring the Protect Our Species campaign for the second year to raise awareness of the importance of the planet’s pollinators - look out for the limited edition butterfly package design on some bottles.
Manage your eco-anxiety
Climate anxiety is on the rise, with The Lancet recognising that the climate crisis could precipitate new psychological conditions and worsen existing mental illnesses, especially amongst young people. Helpfully, tree-planting search engine Ecosia has teamed up with meditation app Insight Timer to create a new challenge, launching today to celebrate Earth Day, to help people find ways to manage their eco-anxiety and provide actionable takeaways to focus their concerns. The 10-day challenge features daily 10-minute courses with a different focus and an action to carry out such as volunteering. For each meditation milestone completed, such as meditating for three days in a row, Ecosia will plant one tree per person, up to a goal of 10,000 trees. Russell Brand is among the celebrities taking part.
Clean up your feed
If you’re looking for inspiration, Instagram is awash with environmental influencers raising awareness of the importance of environmental activism. There are over 10 million posts on Instagram exploring sustainable fashion and the #plasticfree hashtag pulls up more than three million posts with tips on how to have a zero-waste lifestyle.
Obviously, Greta Thunberg is the ultimate environmental campaigner and influencer, with 11 million followers. From starting a school strike to urging the Swedish government to act on climate change, the 17-year-old has since inspired millions to follow suit which has seen her meet with world leaders, sail across the Atlantic, and be named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019.
Other top accounts to follow include Londoner Immy Lucas, founder of the Low Impact Movement who offers tips on cutting down on waste from snacks to cosmetics; model, poet and activist Wilson Oryema, co-founder of Gen Z social change initiative Regenerative Futures; and Scotland’s Jen Brownlie who uses Instagram to showcase how you can follow a sustainable fashion lifestyle and still have a great wardrobe.
Commit to a plastic-free picnic
Don’t let your green goals go out of the window when the clock strikes five. Impulse post-pandemic picnics spark raids on supermarkets, and parks quickly become a sea of crisp packets, strawberry punnets and plastic bottles, later stuffed into the nearest bin. Apparently, we make waste while the sun shines: UK packaging company DS Smith recently reported that 18 per cent of Brits say recycling falls to the bottom of their priority list when the sun comes out, despite two thirds claiming it’s extremely important to them throughout the year.
But eating al fresco doesn’t have to cost the earth. A stainless steel tiffin tin is ideal and “the most important item of the picnic”, says Doug McMaster, founder of the UK’s first zero-waste restaurant, Silo, and Dabbadrop does the hard work for you if you don’t have the time or utensils at home. The London takeaway service bike-delivers vegetarian Indian food in the tins around east London every Friday night. Perfect for a post-work dinner in London Fields.
It’s not just food containers that can go plastic-free. London supper club queen Laura Jackson suggests making your own napkin set with leftover fabric - most dry cleaners do alterations if you don’t trust yourself with a needle - and when it comes to leftovers, McMaster’s second essential picnic item has it covered: a beeswax cling film for wrapping around bowls, tins and surplus foods. “It looks more like baking paper, lined with a malleable wax that sticks really well. You can reuse it for over a year, it’s natural and biodegradable - an incredible bit of ingenuity – and perfect for a picnic.”
Get your strawberries from Oddbox, which delivers fresh, local but slightly misshapen fruit and veg to your door, and choose chutney from Lambeth-based Rubies in the Rubble, which turns surplus food into high-end pickles, sauces and relishes. It even has an aquafaba mayo, made from the water drained from chickpeas instead of egg.
Raise a glass to eco-friendly booze
If you’re planning a Thursday night drink tonight, make it green. Arkbikie Distillery’s sustainable Nadar vodka claims to save more than 1.5kg of carbon dioxide emissions per bottle by turning garden peas into booze, award-winning Somerset wine Dunleavy wine uses sustainable agricultural practices to produce its bottles, and BAME female-led wine brand, Folc, grows, produces and bottles its wine in England using sustainable practices, with plant-based corks and biodegradable labelling and packaging.
Its award-winning winemakers are accredited through Wine GB’s sustainability scheme and the company’s aim is to become fully carbon neutral over the coming years.
For a planet-friendly cocktail, choose Scarfes Bar. The award-winning mixologists from Rosewood London have launched a limited edition bottled cocktail with Bruichladdich Whisky to celebrate Earth Day: called the Earth Laddie, it’s an earth and complex concoction that cleverly combines leftover produce to create a distinctive salinity evocative of the ocean.
Mixed with the tartness of fermented apples and the sweet woodiness of parsnips, the resulting liquid is smooth and delicate, with multiple layers of flavour. In a sensitive nod to the environment around us, the fruit and vegetables used in the drink have been rescued from local markets, where they were considered surplus and headed for refusal.