Shedd Aquarium shares ways to help our planet from home for 50th anniversary of Earth Day

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Shedd Aquarium is sharing ways Illinois residents can help protect our planet from the safety of our own homes as people across the globe celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.

From making plant-based recipes to turning off the faucet while you wash your hands, all are encouraged to join the aquarium in taking climate actions together from our kitchens, homes and virtual communities to help fight climate change.

Themed around celebrating Earth Day inside throughout the month, Shedd's "Earth Month In" (#EarthMonthIn) effort activates the power of collective action, where individual actions done together can have a greater impact.

"Though we can't physically gather to celebrate Earth Day this year, we can still take action independently from our own homes that together help fight climate change and protect our planet," said Jaclyn Wegner, director of conservation action at Shedd Aquarium. "Just as we saw 50 years ago on the first Earth Day, collective action is incredibly effective and a proven method for driving positive change for people and wildlife alike."

In your kitchen

Making small changes to our habits in the kitchen can make big impacts on our carbon footprint.

Reduce food waste! Did you know that food that ends up in landfills emits greenhouse gases?

Cut down your food waste by creatively using parts of produce you may not typically cook (those broccoli stems are edible and delicious; mushroom stems make great broth!), repurposing take-out leftovers into something new and composting the food odds and ends you can't eat.

Eat more plant-based meals!

The meat and animal products industry is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, accounting for up to 78 percent of all food-related carbon emissions.

Replacing one meal a week with a vegetarian menu could, over the course of a year, save the equivalent of the greenhouse gases emitted by driving 1,160 miles.

Opt for locally sourced foods when you can to decrease the distance your food travels to reach your plate, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during transportation.

While there are currently restrictions to accessing some types of foods, many farmers markets are reinventing their operations while continuing to bring local foods to consumers.

For example, Green City Market Delivered in Chicago is offering a new service to bring locally sourced produce, meats and eggs to your doorstep.

In your home

Beyond the kitchen, there are more climate actions you can take around the house.

Shedd operates as sustainably as possible-from nurturing our organic, pesticide-free gardens to being smart about how we manage our use of water and energy-and you can too!

Green thumbs up!

There are lots of ways to be a climate-friendly gardener. With climate change, we are seeing more extreme weather events. You can help by installing a rain garden or a rain barrel to retain water and decrease harmful flooding in your area.

Spring is also a great time try your hand at growing fruits, veggies, or herbs in your windowsill planters or yard. Talk about a short farm-to-table distance.

Flip the switch!

Fossil fuels like coal and oilare burned to make energy, adding more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

At home, be sure to turn off the light when you leave a room. And if you haven't already, swap out your old incandescent light bulbs for energy-saving LED bulbs.

Turn off the tap!

Cutting back on water use means we don't have to use as much energy to treat used water.

As we've all become hand-washing superstars to reduce the spread of COVID-19, be sure to turn off the tap while you spend at least 20 seconds lathering up and singing a couple rounds of "Happy Birthday."

Also consider shortening your showers and only running the dishwasher or washing machine once it's full so you can limit water use.

In your community

Climate change affects aquatic animals in your community and around the globe. Join us in taking action in your communities and local natural areas.

Contribute to climate science-from your couch! Scientists at Shedd Aquarium conduct research to improve understanding of how a changing climate is affecting aquatic ecosystems and how animals respond to these changes. You can too!

Some of our favorite citizen science projects include Shedd's Great Lakes Fish Finder app and projects from our partners like Project Budburst and Zooniverse Penguin Watch.

Raise your voice!

Urge your federal representative to advance the national goal to protect 30 percent of land, sea and freshwater habitats by 2030 by supporting Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Deb Haaland's "Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature."

For more information on Shedd Aquarium's #EarthMonthIn movement, click here.
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