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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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:
- VELDT Inc LUXTURE AARDE Watch
- BAGGU Resuable Grocery Bags
- Swaggr Recycled Socks
- Love Beauty and Planet Muru Muru Shampoo Bars
- YIHONG Reusable Stainless Steel Metal Straws
- To-Go Ware Bamboo Travel Utensils
- S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle
- Croon Cleansing Fibers
- AGOLDE Criss Cross Upsized Short
- Antidote Mykilim Dune Handbag
Rethink the way you view transportation.
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.
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.
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)
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Joce Blake is a womanist who loves fashion, Beyonce and Hot Cheetos. The sophistiratchet enthusiast is based in Brooklyn, NY but has southern belle roots as she was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Keep up with her on Instagram @joce_blake and on Twitter @SaraJessicaBee.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
Featured image by LumiNola/Getty Images