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Five Fast and Free Things to Do This Earth Day

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Earth Day 2019 hero graphic

Too busy to clean-up a beach or plant some trees this Earth Day? In this post, we cover five quick things you can do to support a brighter, greener future without leaving your computer.

Earth Day is the global annual event held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries, which are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. On this day, organizations around the world coordinate volunteer cleanups, festivals, educational events, rallies, and so on, each dedicated to solving climate change, ending pollution, and protecting endangered species, as well as growing the global environmental movement.

If you’re stuck at work or otherwise too busy to get involved with one of the thousands of events across the globe, we have compiled a few quick things you can do simply by typing a URL and making a few clicks. In addition to those mentioned below, the Earth Day Network offers dozens of other ways you can get involved. To date, they have logged 2,688,209,868 “acts of green”. Check out their Take Action page to create one of your own.

Also, some of the companies behind these resources are, like Mightybytes, also Certified B Corps, meaning they use a third-party assessment to achieve the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Buying from B Corps supports a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Here are five things you can do right now:

Run a Planet-Friendly Search

Fellow B Corp Ecosia is a search engine that uses its ad revenue to plant trees in areas where they are needed most. Their community has already planted millions of trees in Ethiopia, Brazil, Indonesia, Spain, and many other biodiversity hotspots.

Ecosia homepage

While you can run searches via their website, Ecosia also has a Chrome extension which makes it your default search engine and customizes new tabs to utilize their product. Not only does Ecosia plant a tree for every search performed, they also don’t save your search data, track websites you visit, or sell data to advertisers. The company also publishes monthly financial reports and tree-planting receipts on their websites so you can track their progress. Plus, thanks to their solar plant and Ecosia forests around the world, every search you perform actually removes 1 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Get Ecosia >>

Estimate Your Website’s Carbon Footprint

Every time someone loads a web page, it emits an average of 6 grams of carbon dioxide. Spread across billions of users, the internet produces 2% of global annual carbon emissions every year. It has an environmental impact larger than that of the commercial airline industry. To help users better understand their website’s environmental footprint, our friends at fellow B Corp and 1% for the Planet members Wholegrain Digital have created a website carbon calculator.

Wholegrain Digital's Website Carbon Calculator

To use the calculator, simply input your website address and (optionally) monthly page views, then hit ‘calculate’. The service provides an estimate of how many grams of CO2 per page view your site emits as well as how it compares to other websites tested. It also offers handy comparisons to help you more easily understand your website’s environmental impact. When you’re done estimating website carbon, head over to our own website sustainability tool Ecograder to learn some things you can do to improve your site’s environmental impact.

For more information about Wholegrain Digital’s website carbon calculator, check out their post on B the Change titled Why We Built the World’s First Website Carbon Calculator.

Estimate Your Website’s Emissions >>

Shop Your Values

Want to buy something you found online but curious if a more ethical or sustainable alternative exists? Fellow B Corp DoneGood’s free Chrome extension automatically recommends the best ethical, sustainable brands as you shop on Amazon, Google, or other retail websites.

DoneGood Chrome browser extension

Using their online assistant, you can also find exclusive offers and discount codes for 25% off or more. The extension includes alerts about companies that support Trump as well. DoneGood lets you shop your values while saving money at the same time.

Get the DoneGood Extension >>

Browse Emissions-Free

Earth Mode’s browser extension for Chrome helps you switch to carbon-neutral web browsing. The extension tracks your energy use while browsing the internet and provides helpful insights so that you can easily equate your usage with relevant environmental impacts. A partnership with Carbon Analytics (Yup, another B Corp!) and Johnnie Walker, Earth Mode also tells you how many trees will be planted to offset your annual carbon footprint. Johnnie Walker will plant up to 75,000 trees as part of Earth Day Network’s Canopy Project, which has planted more than three million trees since 2011 in areas in need of reforestation, such as in East Africa.  

Earth Mode Chrome extension

If you’d like to track your browsing emissions across specific cloud-based applications, the Cloud Carbon Chrome extension gives you specific figures for Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, and overall computer use.

Get Earth Mode >>

Advocate for Renewable Energy

Greenpeace’s Click Clean campaign tells you which of your favorite apps are powered by renewables or dirty energy. Available in multiple languages, the website covers the most popular products and services in streaming media and messaging, grading each on its energy mix and policies. You can also share messages about each company’s scorecard via Twitter, What’sApp, or Facebook.

Click Clean Twitter Scorecard

Of course, online platforms like Care2 have entire sections devoted to environmental advocacy, so if reaching out to tech companies isn’t your thing, there are plenty of environmental organizations that could use your help. To make a political difference, you can also support the Green New Deal by signing Sunrise’s petition or making a call to your local representative using 350.org’s handy script.

Click Clean >>

Now, Opt Outside

Sure, this post covers some things you can do to support a better planet without leaving your computer, but we really, really hope you’ll spend at least some time outside this Earth Day (and every day). According to a 2018 study by the University of East Anglia:

Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits.

The study, which gathered data from over 140 other studies involving more than 290 million people, reports that exposure to green space reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, and increases sleep duration. In addition to physical health, Harvard University notes that getting out in nature can boost your mental state as well, reducing chances of anxiety, depression, and stress. Plus, stepping away from your computer can lead to creative breakthroughs and improve your creativity overall. So why not take that break with a walk through the local park?

Tim Frick is the author of four books including, most recently, Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services, from O'Reilly Media. He is @timfrick on Twitter. Mightybytes is a full-service creative firm for conscious companies and a certified B Corporation. Connect with us on Twitter or fill out our contact form.