It’s one of my favorite days of the year – Earth Day! I grew up with a dad who was very focused on green living long before it was popular, and as a result this is a topic I am very passionate about. We recently returned from a spring break trip to Seattle and other areas of Washington state (more about this later), and it made me fall in love with Mother Nature all over again. Being where you can see the mountains, ocean, and amazing forests all in one place was completely awe inspiring.

Every year around Earth Day, I take some time to reflect on the things we are already doing that help the environment and also consider where there is room for improvement (there is always room for improvement!)  Last year we drastically reduced our use of disposable paper towels and napkins by purchasing reusable versions. We used to go through a lot of paper towels but no longer! I’m very proud of the changes we have made.

This year my goal is to buy much more of our produce as possible from farmers markets. Even though I adore the market, in the past this hasn’t always been feasible for me due to a variety of factors (primarily my busy schedule), but at this point in time I have a little bit more flexibility to make this happen.  As with so many things, I think just making the initial adjustment will go a long way toward making this into a habit that sticks.  I’m also trying to look at where we could conserve in a more general sense, and make do with what we already have.  I need to ponder this more often than I do.

Updated: I just remembered one other thing I have been working on the past few months. We get a ridiculous number of catalogs in the mail that we never signed up for.  We used to immediately recycle them, but it’s still a waste of paper nonetheless.  Lately I have been making a habit of saving them up, then going to each company’s website and filling out the form to end or drastically reduce their catalog mailings. It takes some time, but I’m hoping it helps cut down on waste a bit.

Sometimes the enormity of caring for our world can seem overwhelming.  It helps to realize that there are many small changes we can make in our day to day lives. Even one person making a change will have an impact, but just imagine if we all committed to a greener lifestyle what an amazing result it could have.  Our eating habits and home kitchens are one of the places where we have the potential to create a lot of waste, and therefore have a lot of room for making an impact by conserving resources.

Some things you can do: 

  • Use reusable grocery bags (and don’t forget reusable produce bags as well!)  No need for plastic. For all those who own reusable bags but forget to bring them to the store, put them back into your car IMMEDIATELY after you unpack the groceries.  Then you’ll never be without them.
  • Recycle as much as possible.
  • Buy local, eat local.  Supporting local farms and food providers benefits you, them, and the entire local economy. (Check this site to find farmers markets near you!)
  • Cook at home instead of going out to eat. So many benefits I can’t begin to list them here!
  • On a related note, bring your lunch to school or work instead of buying food.  It wastes less packaging, tastes better, and is usually healthier. (My Let’s Do Lunch series was created for this purpose.)
  • Give up paper towels, napkins, and disposable dishes or utensils.  Stock up on reusable alternatives – they’ll last you a long time and save money in the long run.
  • Don’t use plastic water bottles.  Buy a reusable bottle and refill it instead.  (And don’t drink other things that come in plastic bottles such as soda or juice – they aren’t good for you anyway.)
  • Start a garden and grow your own food.  So fun and rewarding!
  • Can and preserve your own foods so you can buy less processed food and its associated packaging.
  • Give up your daily coffee shop trips and brew your own treats at home. (Here are a few things I make at home to avoid the coffee shop.)
  • Make your own yogurt and fruit mix-ins to avoid the waste of all those individual yogurt containers.
  • If you have kids, set the example and teach them all of these behaviors. Teach them to love and care for this earth because they will inherit it from us. 

My other favorite thing about Earth Day here on the blog is getting the opportunity to share some of my favorite items and resources that have helped me live a greener lifestyle.  Check out the many giveaway opportunities below:
All US Residents: 

Indy residents only:

What are you doing to celebrate this wonderful Earth today?

  • Kerry Cooks

    Great post Annie! It’s nice to see someone who’s so conscious about the environment, unfortunately its still a long way from the norm! I often have to take items out of plastic bags and hand them back in shops as it’s still automatic to hand them out, even if you have a reusable bag.

  • Great post! I do many of these things, both for ecological–and like you mentioned–health reasons. We’re hooked on seltzer in our house, so buying a Soda Stream maker has saved us from having to dump five-six 2-liter bottles in the recycling bin each week. Thanks for a great, informative post:).

  • annieseats

    So true! It drives me crazy that even if I buy a single item or a few small items that I can easily carry with no bag, the norm is still to put them in a bag. It makes no sense!

  • Meghan

    Love this post, Annie! It’s motivated me to be better about using my mesh produce bags and cutting back on paper waste. Didn’t you post a link to an Esty site a while back that you use for reusable paper towels on a roll? I did a quick search, but would love a recommendation if you have one. Thanks!

  • annieseats

    Yes! Unfortunately their shop is closed for vacation at the moment, otherwise I was going to link to them (and actually do a giveaway of those towels too). Mine aren’t on a roll, just loose cloths, but I still love them. We’ve had them over a year and they are still working very well for us. The Etsy shop is Natural Linens and it is their “unpaper towels” that I have.

  • Those are the most gorgeous pictures! I have such a desire to visit the Pacific Northwest someday. :)

  • Alyssa D

    Thank you!! I am glad I am not the only one who feels this way. Some cashiers look at me like I have two heads when I say “no bag please”….I’ve got two arms for a reason!

  • Catherine

    I love your passion for the Earth! As a fifth grade teacher, I find myself at the photo copier often. I always initially limit myself to only what I need. Of course, I constantly find myself in a rut: students often need an extra copy of an assignment so I make another trip to the copier to make more, or I end up with more copies than needed, wasting paper in both instances. My school is not very fortunate with technology, but I do make it a point to use it for paperless assignments when I can. I am adamant about using the recycling bins in my classroom. I remind my students to recycle their unwanted or unneeded papers on a daily basis. In fact, my students volunteer with the school recycling each week, and love it!

  • Rachel Taylor

    I love your lunch series! I always love inspiration in breaking out of the normal lunches I turn to every week. Thanks!

  • Melinda Z.

    Love this! My environmental history class always starts with an “environmental tip of the day”. I think I’ll offer your suggestion about reusable napkins and towels today, as well as move toward doing that myself. I’m cringing right now at how many paper towels I go through when I’m cleaning. :/

  • Alex

    Love this and love the pictures!

  • Erin

    We are going to do a neighborhood clean up and plant some veggies today!

  • annieseats

    You should, it is amazing! We loved it.

  • Megan Anne Alderman

    Going to pick up local hiking trails with my YogaServes group! Do you have a certain brand of reusable paper towels/napkins that you like?

  • annieseats


    Yes, the towels I bought and love are from an Etsy shop called Natural Linens. They are currently closed on vacation but will reopen soon. They are the “unpaper towels”. We’ve had ours over a year now and they still work well.

  • Shae Tilson

    Love it when you do your Earth Day giveaways! The Green Bean Delivery link doesn’t seem to be working, however. :( GBD fans here!

  • annieseats

    Crap! Sorry about that. Just fixed it :) Thanks for letting me know!

  • Terry Dugan

    Love this so much! Just bought some flowers to plant with my 3 year old daughter tonight to celebrate Earth day. :) :) :)

  • Aimee

    I won the Rume bags in last year’s giveaway. They are small enough to store in my purse so I’m never without them but can hold up to 50 lbs. each. I loved them so much, I got a second set. Thank you so much for introducing me to them!

  • tara

    I do the same! Especially at the mall with small things like makeup. And I swear for one pair of underwear victoria secret uses a huge bag and 10 things of tissue. What a waste. Especially when I have other bags !

  • annieseats

    Woohoo! I am so glad to hear you love them as much as we do. I hope you have them for a long, long time!

  • Pat T

    The pictures are amazing! What a beautiful country we live in. I always grab my reusable bags when I shop. I like the idea of reusable paper towels and will check it out. If we don’t take care of our environment what will our grandchildren have?

  • Lakeisha Bing

    I bought the unpaper towels last year and I LOVE THEM, I need to order more when the store re-opens :). I will get the mesh produce bags, I fall short there. You’ve inspired me these past years and I so appreciate it Annie. You’re pictures are gorgeous! Looking for solutions to refill water bottles for girls while they’re in school. I’m at a loss there. Don’t like water fountains……..and I will try your syrups too!!! Thanks for always sharing, you INSPIRE!!!!!

  • Susan

    I leave my reusable grocery bags in my car, but I’ve seen articles that say this (heat in the car) encourages bacteria growth. Thoughts?

  • Angie

    I have always ALWAYS wanted to go to Seattle, and these pictures aren’t helping!

    Question – do you ever use the unpaper towels for really dirty/grimy/flat out nasty clean ups? What specifically made me think of this was cleaning up after a cat chewing on yet again another piece of plastic. I know I could use a cotton/cloth towel, but that kind of grosses me out. Maybe I’d get over that though?!

  • annieseats

    I would need to see the specific article to consider its scientific validity, but most articles I tend to see spread across the internet regarding bacterial growth on (fill in the blank) are pseudoscience at best. Bacteria already grow everywhere and cover pretty much everything. The type of bacteria would be important to know, because I’m guessing they were just normal bacteria that grow in the environment and not human pathogens. Unless your bags were filthy to begin with, I really can’t imagine this being a legitimate issue. In any case, I’ve had my bags a long time, wash them every couple of months, and they never smell or seem dirty in any way.

  • annieseats

    I guess I haven’t really had a situation like that yet. Our cat is outside only, and other messes in our house are generally kitchen messes. I mean, we still keep paper towels around and maybe would use them for something really gross, but the unpaper towels have replaced them for the most part.

  • Angie

    Cool. Eventually I’ll buy some, and I’ll keep a roll of paper towels around just in case something gross comes up. From an environmental perspective I wish I could handle the gross cleanups, but I just want to toss and forget they happened!

  • kelly kay

    As soon as I saw the post photo, I thought “this can’t be in Indiana?”. I live in Seattle and would recognize that scenery anywhere. Looks like you had a nice time in my neck of the woods.

  • Shelby Chubb

    Hi Annie, not sure if someone else already suggested this: but have you ever considered signing up for a CSA? I did it for the past two years since I lived in apartments and couldn’t garden (this year, I’m gardening). I loved it! Every week I got what was in season for 20+ weeks through the growing months. It can be a bit frustrating sometimes to have to figure out what to do with MORE kale when it’s kale season, but I like the challenge of eating what’s in season as well as locally. I noticed my husband even started eating more veggies because we hated seeing anything go to waste since would have another batch of veggies EACH WEEK, which can really sneak up on you if you have a busy week and don’t cook as much as usual. I’ve learned lots of new recipes, cooking and storing techniques thanks to having a CSA.

  • annieseats

    Right now we use an organic produce delivery service that does use local produce when available. I have considered CSAs but what you are describing (ending up with a mountain of kale) is exactly why I probably won’t sign up for one. With our kids and the fact that I run a blog centered around food, I need to be able to customize what produce we are getting each week. Our current service lets me do that.

    However, there are some local CSAs that let you customize your order and I’m considering that. But just a traditional CSA model really doesn’t quite work for our family’s needs.

  • Stephanie Coleman

    Hi Annie,
    Thanks, for this post, it really opened me up to a lot of new ideas. I had no idea unpaper towels existed, but I am looking into the now! Do you have any idea where to find a large glass water bottle? I drink a LOT of water throughout the day, usually drinking a 50 oz Smart Water bottle. I would love to switch to glass, but there is no option to refill my water bottle throughout the day. We don’t have a water cooler or fountain and I don’t trust that a water bottle with a filter could make even our tap water safe for drinking. Any ideas you may have would be helpful. Thanks again :)

  • annieseats

    I don’t know anything about one quite that large, and I also think it would be really heavy and more likely to break if it existed. If you need that much, I would probably just buy two or three. (They do have at least one larger size than the one I use/posted about, so you could maybe get two of those.) It stinks when you are in a place without access to filtered water!

  • Dawn

    Inspiring post and gorgeous pictures. We’re going to Seattle in a couple of weeks, so I hope you post more about your vacation soon!

  • Elise Gahan

    Have you read the book Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat? It is a fun read about the many, many positive effect of choosing to eat local and grow your own food. I would definitely recommend it if you would ever consider non-fiction for pleasure reading!

  • Lauren

    So glad you are taking the time to get rid of the magazines before they hit the recycling. Most people don’t realize it, but recycling paper is actually worse for the environment than creating paper from trees! And so few towns recycle glass, which is one of the most earth friendly things to recycle.

  • annieseats

    I haven’t yet but I will add it to my list. It sounds great. Thanks for the rec!

  • Cheryl Duss

    As I was reading your post and then some of the comments about earth day love, it occurred to me what an incredible legacy you are establishing for your kids (and future generations of your family). I am sure that as your kids get older and look back on these experiences, they’ll see how inspiring you have been to so many people, and how thoughtful you are as a person who takes the time to care about the little things too, like making your own yogurt to avoid the waste of all those individual containers — genius! Really, when we reflect on how we would like to be remembered, I can’t think of a better answer.

  • annieseats

    Cheryl, thank you so much. You are so kind.