A blue heron dining out on the sunny Sunshine Coast at Sechelt, BC.
- Choose biodegradable sunscreen that, unlike many traditional chemical sunscreens, does not harm coral reefs and other marine plants and animals. According to National Geographic News, 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of chemical sunscreens wash off swimmers' bodies annually, significantly contributing to the growing worldwide coral bleaching problem.
- Refuse excessive packaging and choose recycled packaging whenever possible. With increasing consumer demand, more and more companies are coming up with consumer packaging alternatives made with recycled and recyclable materials. Companies are also rethinking the direct impact of their packaging on our health, as seen with Campbell's recent announcement to introduce BPA-free soup cans.
- Opt for reusable straws over disposable plastic straws that often end up as potential choking hazards for wildlife. Plastics do not biodegrade, they photo degrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil, oceans and entering the food chain when eaten by animals. Scientists estimate each plastic item could last in the environment anywhere between 400 to 1000 years. A non-toxic option for reusables are stainless steel straws.
- Reduce plastic bag use. You may have mastered the art of remembering your reusable shopping bags on grocery runs, but what about all those plastic produce bags? Reusable produce and bulk bags are the next step we can take to help reduce the profileration of plastic bags in our landfills and oceans - bags that never go away. In the ocean, many marine animals mistake plastic bags for food and swallow them, with painful and often fatal consequences.
- Commit to doing something for the earth on Earth Day. Pick up a piece of litter, or 20. Make a meal with wholly organic and local foods or these all natural, organic Earth Day cookies. Walk instead of drive. Join an organized event or group dedicated to the environment like the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. It's a great way to do your bit, teach your kids by example -- and recognize the importance of keeping in mind the impact of your actions on the planet on Earth Day and every day beyond.