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6 Ways We're Doing Our Part For Earth Day 2020 & Beyond

April 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. This year's theme: climate action.

Life & Travel

Big Rona ain't stopping the show as we continue to be more eco-conscious in our daily lives. Since 1970, Earth Day's mission has been to build the world's largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet.

In my younger days, I remember looking forward to Earth Day at school because it forced me to think outside of my bubble and come up with my plans to save the planet. Once I got to high school, and all I cared about was fashion and boys, that fire I once had to make the planet a better place wasn't lit anymore. But now that I have a better understanding of what Earth Day really means and how climate action will effect generations to come, I have got to make this Earth Day count.

Our current state of normal includes a pandemic that took us by surprise. Before that, we were startled by the brushfires in Australia and then the locusts swarming Africa. These are all signs that we must take climate change more seriously. When we all make an effort, we make Mother Earth proud.

From shopping with a purpose to plastic audits to simply supporting your mental health, we have some feasible ways to show love to our beautiful planet.

Plant a tree or start a garden.

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We could all use some therapeutic activities while social distancing and one way to celebrate Earth Day is by planting a tree or starting a garden. Planting a tree helps reduce our carbon footprint but also provides beauty for nature. You have a slew of choices from Ash Trees to Cherry Trees. When planting a tree, it is essential to find a great location that will allow the tree to grow without interruption.

As for your new garden, it has endless benefits. Just ask our forever First Lady, Michelle Obama. She wrote an entire book on the impact gardens have on the well-being of our children. Looking for inspo? Read her book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. By starting your new garden, you can rest easy knowing your produce is free of pesticides and you'll have food right outside your door.

For a beginner's gardening starter kit, you'll need:

  • Seeds or young plants.
  • Compost.
  • Mulch.
  • Soil-tilling equipment.
  • A shovel and spade.
  • A garden hose.
  • Fencing materials.

For apartment-dwellers who still wish to give back to Mother Earth but can't plant a garden of their own, look into initiatives like One Tree Planted and Plant a Billion Trees for ways you can get involved. Your health and well-being can also flourish indoors with the help of house plants. Don't know where to begin? Check out our article "These Easy To Care For Plants Can Thrive With Little To No Sunlight".

Use refillable water products instead of plastic water bottles.

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Truth is, we have a love affair with garbage. We don't always think about how much we contribute to waste if it's not at the forefront of our minds. More than anything, being aware can change your outlook. Single-use plastic has to be the type of waste we dispose of the most and one feasible way to make a difference is to replace your plastic bottles with refillable water products. This simple but impactful change can be achieved through a reusable bottle made of stainless steel, glass, or safe aluminium, a filtration system like Brita or an advanced faucet water filter like PUR.

Shop smart and sustainable.

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Being home more makes you want to shop online more. But if you're going to shop, make sure it's sustainable. We found a few products that will do our planet some good. Many of these brands are dedicated to combating climate change by making their products compostable, keeping the consumer informed, donating to climate change foundations or using recycled plastic bottles to create sustainability:

  1. VELDT Inc LUXTURE AARDE Watch
  2. BAGGU Resuable Grocery Bags
  3. Swaggr Recycled Socks
  4. Love Beauty and Planet Muru Muru Shampoo Bars
  5. YIHONG Reusable Stainless Steel Metal Straws
  6. To-Go Ware Bamboo Travel Utensils
  7. S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle
  8. Croon Cleansing Fibers
  9. AGOLDE Criss Cross Upsized Short
  10. Antidote Mykilim Dune Handbag

Rethink the way you view transportation.

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One positive thing to emerge from the stay-at-home orders is the decrease in carbon emissions. Social distancing is low-key helping climate change because the whole world has been forced to flatten the curve. By not being on the roads in our vehicles and hopping on flights, we are reducing greenhouse gases. Right now, we are only using our cars to go out for essential runs. What if chose to bike instead to further drop air pollution? CNBC said that cleaner air has saved about 50,000 lives in China alone over these past few months. Biking also allows you to make your lungs and muscles healthier and stronger. We affirm that we are coming out of quarantine smarter and healthier by simply being intentional with the way we treat Mother Earth.

Go plant-based for one meal.

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I was today years old when I found out that factory farms in the U.S. produce 300 million tons of waste each year. That's just the United States. By choosing more plant-based meals, we can be more intentional about our carbon footprint and create a better climate environment for our children and our children's children. Try this easy but tasty recipe this week.

Support your mental health.

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We are living in unprecedented times. Never in a million years did I think we would be experiencing a pandemic like this. Everyone in the world is greatly effected by this one thing. Our mental health along with our physical health has to be the most important thing at this moment. Flattening the curve has costs us normalcy and there's no harm in grieving the loss of normalcy. With the weight of the pandemic and climate change weighing heavily on our hearts and mental, we have to be gentle with ourselves.

Be sure to do things that bring you joy. As we celebrate Earth Day, make sure they are eco-friendly. Check out some ideas below:

  • Do 15-minute daily meditations and keep a gratitude journal.
  • Hand-write letters.
  • Take time to stop, smell the roses and read the signs.
  • Watch movies with a friend (virtually).
  • Create some DIY house decorations.
  • Experiment with watercolors.

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Featured image courtesy of @thjeneralist/Instagram (gave permission)

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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