My Birthday is on Earth Day: Here's What That Means to Me

For my seventh birthday, at my mom’s encouragement (she loves a good party theme), I asked for plants to put in our backyard instead of presents. It was April 22, after all. I put on my favorite Lorax shirt, headed downstairs and grabbed a shovel to help out in giving the lovely leaves their new home. It wasn’t just a fun moment, it was a formative one.

As a kid, I always thought it was cool to be born on Earth Day. It’s not a holiday where my friends would be away on vacation, and I was never shorted presents like my brother, a December baby. Because it became a defining aspect of who I was, I invested time into learning more about Earth Day.

Earth Day began April 22, 1970, as people protested in the streets against the harmful effects of 150 years of industrial development with no care for the environment. You would think my trajectory would be to become an environmental activist as I got older. Then, middle school came.

Ah, middle school. A time when everyone is terrified of looking like they care too much, if at all, about anything. Twelve-year-old me had to run away from that “nerd” label. As I looked at the list of clubs available, my eyes hovered over the Go Green team, but I avoided it like the plague.

The best solution was to not get involved in anything in my book. It was a new school, and I was desperately afraid of pigeonholing myself. So, for three years, my interest in the environment waned as I tried to be whatever I felt the other kids thought I should be.

Now, however, I’m unafraid to let my passions be known. I’m confident in being a writer, a feminist and absolutely an environmentalist. It pains me that I’m only now finally ready to adopt a personality trait I had previously been embarrassed about and become active in the fight for the Earth.

If you, too, are just getting into the environmentalist game and want to make changes in your life to become more aware, here are some easy fixes you can do in your daily routine:

1. Stop using products that use plastic microbeads.

Some face washes and toothpaste brands use these harmful beads. These microplastics absorb toxins in the environment and are consumed by sea creatures after you wash them down the drain.

Lots of companies make alternative face washes without microbeads that have the same effect on your skin; check out St. Ive’s products that use apricot seeds.

2. Skip plastic straws when you’re out to eat.

These mindless pieces of plastic we’ve come to expect in our drinks are thrown out after one use and contribute to pollution. Say no to straws and encourage your friends and family to do so, too.

3. Eat less meat.

You might not even realize it, but eating meat is one of the heaviest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions when you take into account the amount of land, food and water it takes to raise these animals.

By cutting down your meat consumption, not only are you protesting animal suffering, but you are also cutting down on the 51 percent of global greenhouse emissions that animal agriculture causes.

Never be afraid to let your green flag fly, and have an awesome Earth Day!