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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McMaster chapter.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, everyone inevitably ponders the wonder of love. Some celebrate it with jubilation, some begrudge it with bitterness. Either way, we tend to get our human heads caught up in red hearts. But there’s one heart we tend to neglect; one we’ve been slowly breaking for decades… the Earth. Our beautiful blue planet shows us love everyday: in forests, flowers, waterfalls, deserts and oceans. We receive that love selfishly. But the truth is, our planet’s heart is on fire. If our world does not act now to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global warming will surpass 1.5°C in the coming decades, leading to irreversible loss of the most fragile ecosystems, and crisis after crisis for the most vulnerable people and societies, according to the IPPC report. How can we help? It turns out, we are much more powerful than we think. Here are 21 ways to shower our planet with love:

  1. Use reusable dish cloths! Throw away the J-cloths, and wash your dishes with reusable sponge cloths.
  2. Buy local! The more you can shorten delivery distance, the fewer carbon emissions are produced. For Ontario residents, check out Well.ca and The Nooks.
  3. Reuse plastic/glass containers! Whether you use them as plant pots, pen holders, flower vases or drinking glasses, there are so many ways to recycle.
  4. Switch to plastic-free deodorant! Attitude has a plastic-free, biodegradable deodorant line that smells divine.
  5. Buy it in bar form! Go naked, honey. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, and face cleanser can all come as a solid bar! No plastic packaging required!
  6. Refrain from buying new clothes, especially those composed of synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic.
  7. If you need new clothes, thrifting is the way to go.
  8. If you MUST buy brand new clothing, consider brands like Preloved that use recycled materials, or Tentree that plants trees to offset carbon emissions.
  9. Spread awareness! Climate activists like Greta Thunberg, Bonnie Wright, Kevin J. Patel and Emma Watson are waking up the world. Some other social media accounts to follow are @carbfix, @zerowastemcmaster, @chicksforclimate, @get.waste.ed, and @earth.rise.studio.
  10. Use the library! Borrowing items like books and movies instead of owning them is not only sustainable, it’s FREE!!
  11. Buy in bulk*.

* When I say buy in bulk, I mean buy products in large volume containers, NOT a 20 pk of small packages. This is an easy way to use less plastic.

  1. Use a reusable water bottle. If you still drink out of single-use plastic water bottles like Nestle or Aquafina, please stop!!!
  2. Use reusable shopping bags, ideally made out of natural material, but plastic works too.
  3. To my fellow menstruating humans—switch to plastic-free period products. Invest in a menstrual cup, washable pads, period underwear or cotton pads / tampons.
  4. Use wool dryer balls! It significantly reduces drying time, hence using up less energy.
  5.  Educate yourself! Some great books to start with: “No One is Too Small to Make A Difference” by Greta Thunberg, “The Climate Diet” by Paul Greenberg, “Make Your Place” by Raleigh Briggs, and “Go Gently” by Bonnie Wright.
  6. Use cloth napkins! Not only do they feel more bougie, they’re easy to clean and reusable!
  7. Plastic produce bags suck. Use your own reusable cotton bags to store produce when grocery shopping. Or better yet, don’t use a bag at all! Stay naked.
  8. Exchange disposable razors for a safety razor! It’s plastic-free and cost-effective, as you replace the blades and reuse the razor. I recommend the Zomchi Safety Razor and blade bank for safe disposal.
  9. Sad fact: most stickers are made out of plastic. I enjoy a sticker as much as the next person, but vinyl stickers are a massive contributor to the microplastic crisis. Get creative and print your own unique design on these eco-friendly stickers instead.
  10. Buy bamboo, baby! From eating utensils, phone cases, toothbrushes, to squatty potties, you can pretty much make anything out of bamboo. It’s the fastest growing plant on earth, it’s strong as hell, and it absorbs twice as much carbon dioxide as trees and other plants do.

Remember: even adopting just one of these tips will make a meaningful impact. Love is never perfect, almost always messy, and 100% worth giving– So make Mother Nature your valentine this year and show up for her everyday in simple acts of love.

Julianna is a final year Mechanical Engineering Student at McMaster. She is a struggling student by day and a singer/writer/foodie by night. If she had it her way she would be laying on a beach on Lake Huron, soaking up some rays and reading a good book. In her spare time, you may find Julianna daydreaming about bread, obsessing over the new F1 season, or absolutely destroying her glutes at the gym.