With April 22 being Earth Day this year, Waste Management, which handles trash disposal and recycling in Rio Rancho under contract with the city, has 22 tips for making a positive difference for the planet and yourself.

  1. Ground yourself: Shed those shoes. Physical contact with the earth is said to ground a person’s energy and is known as “earthing.”
  2. Smell the roses: Spend more time in nature. Studies have shown that quiet time outside can lower stress, improve mental attention and improve mood.
  3. Sow seeds: Whether you plant a tree, cultivate a vegetable garden or grow herbs in pots on a windowsill, planting something green is a way to honor Mother Nature. Humans take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, while plants generate oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.
  4. Keep the garden organic: If you can’t commit to full organics composing at home, consider saving coffee grounds and eggshells to scatter in the garden to provide nutrients for plants. Use only eco-friendly garden products to manage weeds and insects.
  5. Feed the birds: Making winged guests welcome in your neck of the urban woods can support pollination and help control insects and weeds. Watching the movement of feasting birds can calm, educate and entertain.
  6. Recycle right: The rules of recycling are fundamentally simple, so don’t over-think them. Put only clean cardboard, paper, metal cans and plastic containers shaped like bottles, jugs, tubs and jars into recycling bins. To learn more, visit wm.com/RecycleRight.
  7. Keep recycling clean: Trash-free recycling makes for successful community recycling programs. Never put plastic bags or plastic packaging into recycling bins. Never bag up recyclables. Keep food, liquids and organic material out of recycling.
  8. Stash totes in the trunk: If you keep reusable tote bags handy, you’re more likely to grab them when you head into the store. Estimated benefits vary, but the regular use of a single tote bag can annually replace upward of 500 plastic bags.
  9. BYO cup: Take your own travel tumbler when you pick up morning coffee or invest in the refillable soft-drink cup accepted at your favorite convenience store. If you pick up one beverage every business day this year, by opting not to use disposable cups, you will save 260 cups.
  10. Pass on packaging: To help reduce the amount of waste you generate, seek out products that use less packaging or have sustainable packaging. A few starter ideas are laundry detergent sheets, dish soap blocks, shampoo soap bars and tablets designed to be dropped into a reusable bottle with tap water to make your own cleaning products.
  11. Forego hard copies: Visions of the paperless office have not yet been achieved, considering the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year. Being mindful to only print documents truly needed in hard copy form saves paper, which saves trees.
  12. Read labels: Check the label to see if consumer goods are made from recycled materials or have sustainable packaging. There is a growing selection of paper products, clothing, shoes, carpeting, building materials, home décor and more made from recycled materials.
  13. Frequent a little library: Books are not intended to be single-use reads. If there is a Little Library in your neighborhood, pick up a new-to-you book and leave behind one you’ve finished.
  14. Upcycle something: The practice of reusing an item to give it a new purpose can be a one-off project or a way of life. If you are a beginner, start small and repurpose a plastic bottle into a planter or make a bird feeder out of junk you have lying around the house.
  15. Donate clothing: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans annually generate 16 million tons of textile waste, which equates to 6 percent of all municipal waste. So, if those unwanted clothes and household textiles have life left in them, donate them to a thrift shop instead of tossing them in the trash.
  16. Buy used: Buying used items for the home, garden or wardrobe saves resources and money. If you are skeptical, opt for a few items of gently used clothing to wear while you work on dirty projects, or take a previously owned table or hutch to refurbish.
  17. Rethink jeans – It takes 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make one pair of denim jeans. Limit your jean wardrobe to a few favorites or buy used jeans.
  18. Make Mondays meat-free – Reduced meat consumption equates to reduced air pollution. A third of all the Earth-heating greenhouse gases emitted come from food production. The raising and use of animals for meat creates twice the pollution plant-based food production generates.
  19. Reduce single-use plastic use – Invest in sustainable items that replace the need for single-use plastics. Reusable stretch covers for food containers and beeswax food wrap replace plastic film. Bamboo utensils and stainless-steel drink straws replace throw-away plastics. Glass mason jars and glass storage containers forgo the need for plastic containers that become unusable quickly.
  1. Time showers – Given that the shower heads often flow at a rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, a 15-minute shower uses 37.5 gallons. Reducing your shower time by five minutes can save 12 gallons of water.
  1. Unplug chargers – If left plugged in, chargers for mobile devices draw electricity even when not in use and can be a fire hazard. Consider installing a power strip in a common area for all household portable charges so it can be easily turned off when not in use.
  1. Volunteer for a Community Clean-Up – Spring cleaning comes in many forms, including community cleanups at parks, rivers, hiking trails and other open spaces. Check for events near you and commit a few hours to litter removal and beautification.