Yesterday— April 22nd, was Earth Day; a day that has been observed since 1970, when on that day 20 million Americans took to the streets from coast-to-coast to rally for a healthy, sustainable environment. The founder of Earth Day and the coordinator of these rallies was Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin senator whom had witnessed the environmental damage that was caused by the massive 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he hoped he could use their unity and energy to also raise public awareness on air and water pollution. Nelson reached out to the media, letting them know he was planning a ‘national teach in on the environment’, then building up a nation-wide staff to speak and promote his teach-ins.
So many different walks of life rallied together across the United States, and as these individuals stood together they realized they all had a common goal and common values. Many different environmental groups fighting specific problems such as oil spills and factory pollution realized they were all fighting for a common goal. As a result of the national teach-in, by the end of 1970 the United States Environmental Protection Agency had been founded and the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts were passed. Earth Day remembers and celebrates the beginning of the environmental movement.
Jump forward to 2018; though we all have the ability to live more eco-friendly lifestyles with the advances in technology and the knowledge now available to us, many of us have very busy lives and may feel as if there is just no time to make any changes, or may be overwhelmed by the idea of change all-together. No matter what the excuse is, there are always small steps we can all take to be more environmentally conscious with very low effort, even when it comes to the cannabis industry! Every change we make to live sustainable lifestyles, no matter how small, effects our carbon footprint and helps keep the Earth a greener, healthier place for us all to live.
One of our hugest issues environmentally is plastic pollution. Plastic is not biodegradable and lasts hundreds to thousands of years, breaking down yes— but into smaller, micro-plastic pieces, carrying and absorbing toxins, polluting and harming entire ecosystems and the animals within it. Plastic pollution especially threatens marine life and ecosystems, with over 70 million pounds of plastic currently polluting our ocean’s largest currents. Marine life consume the plastics and micro-plastics that contain toxins such as petroleum, DDT and flame retardants, and in turn down the chain we are effected as we consume these animals or use them for products.
A simple step to take to be more environmentally conscious is to replace your household plastic products with sustainable alternatives! Silicone is a great replacement for common plastic household items like straws, storage containers and ice cube trays as it is biodegradable! Plastic straws, something we use at most restaurants, bars, coffee shops and fast-food chains, take up to 500 years to break down. Imagine how many straws just you have used in your lifetime that will still be around, ever-so-slowly breaking down and polluting our planet after you are long gone. Make a simple change and buy sustainable straws, and encourage your local businesses to switch to using non-plastic alternatives! Just the refusal to use plastic straws makes a huge environmental impact!
Some more steps you can take everyday to make an environmental impact include: walking or biking to work instead of taking transportation when possible, recycling any and all products you can, buying local and in-season products, growing your own food when possible, consuming less meat and diary products, minimizing waste by making a compost pile, checking that your appliances are all energy efficient and unplugping any unused appliances, using eco-friendly household products, taking shorter showers, washing full loads of laundry (using cold water when you can), hanging dry clothes when possible, unsubscribing to snail mail and switching to electronic statements, using reusable bags, buying products without unnecessary packaging and switching to sustainable energy sources (solar, wind) when possible.
Most of those steps you’ve probably heard of at one point or another, I know I have. Though this past Earth Day inspired me to learn about it’s origins and to read into how to live a more sustainable lifestyle, as I read I wondered what I could do as a cannabis patient and consumer to reduce my carbon footprint further. One major thing that first came to mind is the lighting and energy that is used when cannabis is grown indoors; to make more conscious cannabis purchasing decisions, buy outdoor/greenhouse grown when possible or indoor grows that use LED lighting, which is much more energy efficient. Packaging wise, buy from companies using sustainable packaging such as silicone and glass containers. If your favourite company uses plastic packaging, message them and suggest to them making the switch to more a more eco-friendly option!
There are so many more steps other than mentioned that you can take to live a better lifestyle for yourself and for our planet, and I hope by reading you’ve been inspired to do further research and to do your part (even if slowly) and change your lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint. Begin by buying a silicone or glass straw to take around to use instead of using plastic straws, it will make a giant difference! Just look at the next straw you see and remember, it will be around for 500 years. Wake up with intent each day to live a more sustainable lifestyle, make even the smallest effort each day to practice that and in turn the Earth will continue to give back and care for us as it always has for a bit longer.