How can You Make A Difference?


Tess Satter is 19 years old and currently a sophomore at CU Boulder. She is a human rights activist who is also very concerned about environmental issues, and takes small steps in her daily life to reduce her carbon footprint. Tess loves learning new things every day and constantly wants to expand her knowledge on topics she is passionate about. For Earth Day 2022 she shares a few practical tips we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint.

Earth Day is upon us! It is important to keep in mind that it’s a day to celebrate the Earth, but also a day to find ways to protect it! Unfortunately, we are starting to see some of the repercussions of our actions in the United States – increased wildfires, stronger storms, hotter summers, etc.

This Earth Day, I want to help you think about what YOU can do to make a positive difference. I have compiled a small list of items to replace your single-use plastic items with more reusable options. You might think, “I already do enough; I recycle all my plastic!” But there is so much more we can do. Only 9% of our waste actually gets recycled (McClure, 2021). And, the items that you choose to use every day take hundreds of years to biodegrade. You might wonder, how can one person make a difference? But, if even ten people make small changes to their lives, it will come together to make one big difference.

The toothbrush that you only use for six months takes about 500 years to biodegrade (2021). And when that toothbrush does biodegrade, it doesn’t mean it is the end of the process. It takes 500 years to biodegrade into microplastics which end up in our food, the oceans, etc. That’s why you should replace your plastic toothbrush with a 100% biodegradable bamboo toothbrush.

Instead of using a plastic water bottle every day that takes 450 years or more (2021) to biodegrade, try using a reusable water bottle that you will use for years! Are you heading to the grocery store? Instead of relying on the bags provided for you that will take over 20 years (2021) to biodegrade into microplastics, grab a reusable bag (or a few) at home!

Are you celebrating a holiday or a birthday? Instead of using wrapping paper that will end up in the recycling bin immediately, wrap your presents in fabric or use a retailer’s reusable bag to give your next gift!

Lastly, instead of using shampoo and conditioner in bottles that take up to 400 years (“Environmental Factoids,” n.d.) to break down, many places sell shampoo and conditioner bars.

They are just like soap bars, but you lather your hair instead of lathering your body! I just started using this plastic-free option, and while it seems odd at first, it works just as well!

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