With Earth Day coming up Sunday, April 22, this is a good weekend to fine-tune your home’s energy efficiency, try a buy-nothing day and participate in a local nature cleanup. And with milder weather on the way (depending on where you live — we hear you, Michigan), it’s also a smart time to jettison clutter and start planning for that big home project on your to-do list this year.
1. Pick one (or more) simple earth-friendly tweaks to up your energy-efficiency game. Something as simple as remembering to always shut off lights and unplug devices when you leave a room can add up to energy savings over the course of a year. Other easy tweaks to make right away include swapping traditional bulbs for compact fluorescent or LED bulbs, sealing up holes and cracks around the house, and installing low-flow fixtures.
2. Buy nothing (new) for a day. Reduce consumption and save cash by intentionally avoiding unnecessary shopping for a day this weekend. If you do have a need for an item, opt for secondhand, thrift or antiques stores over your regular go-to shops. Want to take it a step further? Join a local Buy Nothing group and swap goods with neighbors to avoid unnecessary purchases.
3. Pare back your book collection. If the weather is looking less than springlike in your area, keep busy indoors with a decluttering project. Bolster yourself with good music and start filling a bin with books to give away or sell.
4. Find a good home for hard-to-donate items. Whether it’s a stash of leftover yarn, spare building materials or unused personal care products, when your go-to local charity won’t accept an item, it can be hard to know what to do — which usually means these things pile up in closets and cupboards. Ferret out your stashes of stuff you’ve been holding on to for far too long, and track down a good home for it.
It’s always a good idea to call a potential donation spot first, as policies vary by location. The tips below can get you started.
- Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores take building materials and furniture.
- Some homeless and women’s shelters accept unopened personal care products.
- Senior centers are often happy to accept donated yarn.
5. Set up your kitchen for a rise-and-shine Monday. Combat that case of the Mondays by doing a little extra prep on Sunday evening. Fill a blender with smoothie ingredients and store it in the fridge, fill the coffee pot with water, and make sure everything is neat and tidy. You may not have little birds helping you get dressed in the morning, but at least you’ll have something good to drink.
6. Start planning for house painting. Spring and summer are prime times for house painting, and if you’re hiring pros, it helps to get on their schedule early. Start searching for painters, checking references and scoping out paint colors so you (and your house) are ready to go when it’s painting time.
7. Help clean up a natural area. Earth Day offers lots of opportunities to pitch in and make our parks, beaches, forests and wetlands cleaner, safer places for wildlife. Search for a cleanup event happening near you, or gather with friends and family to clean up a favorite nature spot on your own. Even when cleaning up, remember to stay on marked trails and carry out everything you bring in.