By Genevieve Raushenbush
We are undeniably interconnected. From the past year we have again learned — from public health to politics to protecting our planet — just how crucial each of our actions are to our collective present and future.
For this year’s Earth Day, our team at SF Goodwill is consolidating these strands of adaptability, resilience, and self-determination into a variety of actionable sustainability resolutions. Many of these actions revolve around the power of consumer choice — and it makes sense to turn our dollars into change! Here are six of our favorite ways to use your money and purchasing power for good in 2021 with you:
1. Less meat, more greens. Let’s learn to cook three new staple meals — all without meat. Not only will a more vegetable-based diet help you save our world’s water, agricultural land, and limit greenhouse gas emissions — it will also spare your wallet and your health. Vegetarian sushi bowls, anyone?
2. Buy less, buy upcycled. What can we say — we’re excited to save the planet with style. Our current system of fast fashion results in a truck-full of textile waste being landfilled or incinerated every second; it’s a linear model of rapid production and wasteful elimination that strains our world’s resources, economies, and environment. We’re excited to make a circular economy fashionable — and have fun thrifting and mending old clothes creatively while we’re at it.
3. Wipe clean, wipe green. Toilet paper has been on the mind during this pandemic, especially during the early days — luckily, we’re not telling you to hoard it! The average American uses 57 squares of toilet paper a day, but the average American is likely unaware that most toilet paper comes from fresh trees that are cut down specifically to become our coveted bath tissue. Let’s stop supporting the clear-cutting of the Canadian Boreal Forest with every flush by switching to recycled, sustainable toilet paper brands– or using a bidet.
4. Shop safe, shop green. Have one too many tote bags, packaging boxes, or Trader Joes bags lying around your house? Now is the time to put them to use! Though some grocery stores still do not allow you to bring your own bags due to COVID restrictions, aim whenever possible to bag or box your own groceries. You can also show off how well you reuse old bags on a socially-distant picnic! Place those bags (and/or packaging boxes) in a convenient place by the door or in the trunk so you won’t forget them.
5. Planet aware self care. We agree — 2021 is the year to finally take care of your skin. Daily sunscreen use is going to make us positively glow when this pandemic is over! But did you know that common ingredients in chemical sunscreens damage the world’s coral reefs and marine life when they wash off your skin and enter our waterways? Take care of your skin and the planet by ensuring that the next sunscreen you buy is a physical sunscreen (also known as a mineral sunscreen).
6. Give structure to give more. We can accomplish what we make time for, from relaxation to acts of giving. Consider setting up monthly donations at a trusted nonprofit with a focus on the environment with the money you save from eating out less during the lockdowns. Or, consider scheduling a recurring virtual or COVID-safe volunteering gig — there are beach clean-ups and food banks in the Bay Area that can always appreciate extra hands.
Earth Day marks an opportunity for reflection, resiliency, and regeneration in response to the lessons of the past year. While we are all too familiar with the feelings of climate anxiety and helplessness in the face of the massive, global mess of climate change, we have no choice but to renew our faith in incremental progress, built on by the collective action of individuals. It may feel like an inconsequential action to choose to thrift an item rather than buy it new, or to choose to donate a bag of shoes rather than throw it away, but in the past year alone, SF Goodwill was able to divert 34 million pounds of clothes from the landfill through the many donations and thrift trips that each of you took. That’s our impact, made by each of us individually, together.
Will you do Good and share this post?