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What is Zero Emissions Day, and Why is it Important?

Zero Emissions Day is swiftly approaching on September 21st. Find out what Zero Emissions Day is, what the goals of the day are, and tips for how to participate and raise awareness.

What is Zero Emissions Day?

Zero Emissions Day, originally coined ZeDay, is an initiative created by Canadian activist Ken Wallace in 2008. The concept behind Zero Emissions Day is to "give the Earth a day off" from carbon emissions and environmental strain.  Zero Emissions Day was initially only observed in its place of origin, Nova Scotia, but the movement quickly gained traction and became a global phenomenon.

The goal of Zero Emissions Day is to make us more considerate about our energy usage and impact on our planet by not using fossil fuels for a full 24 hours. This day encourages participants to be deliberate in everyday actions, and reflect on ecological consequences that our behavior has. 

Fossil fuels are a finite source of energy, meaning one day they will run out. Life without fossil fuels is a future that humans will face one day, whether we like it or not. The graph below illustrates the amount of oil reserves per year at current usage. By motivating us to embrace more sustainable behaviors, Zero Emissions Day instills a greater consciousness of our energy consumption patterns. 

Graph of when various fossil fuels will run out

 Energy reserves in billion tonnes of oil equivalent (MAHB)


How to Celebrate Zero Emissions Day 

Commemorating Zero Emissions Day can be done in a lot of ways, both big and small. If you are truly committed, do as Wallace intended and go all day without using energy generated using fossil fuels. However, many people who want to celebrate Zero Emissions Day are unable to, as many essentials are ran on fossil fuels like energy, heat and transportation. 

Below are 10 ways that you can celebrate Zero Emissions Day and reduce carbon emissions, even if you can't commit to 0 fossil fuel usage.

  1. Change Up Your Commute: Transportation is a large contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. Utilize options such as public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking instead of driving alone. 

  2. Go Meatless for the Day: One of the large sources of greenhouse gas emissions is livestock farming. For ZeDay, try eating only plant-based meals in order to shrink your carbon footprint like these from nutritionist, Sarah Bond. 

  3. Plant a Tree: Trees are a valuable addition to communities, as they absorb carbon dioxide and generate to oxygen. Plant a tree or even organize a tree planting event to offset emissions and help combat deforestation.

  4. Raise Awareness: Organize a discussion, webinar, or panel to educate others about the importance of why it's important to reduce emissions and adopting more sustainable practices.

  5. Cut Down on Energy Usage: Try to go the day without using unnecessary energy by being conscious about lights, unplugging electronics and hand washing dishes.

  6. Calculate Your Carbon Footprint: For Zero Emissions Day, calculate your personal or household carbon emissions to identify where you can make improvements. Use online calculators (like this one from the Environmental Protection Agency) to help you through this process.

  7. Invest in Renewable Energy: If possible, invest in renewable energy sources like solar panels for your home. On a smaller scale, you could also research renewable energy initiatives in your town and support them.

  8. Try Upcycling: Upcycling is the process of creatively reusing old and unwanted items and making valuable new ones. Try having friends over for an upcycling craft day. Find easy upcycle projects here.

  9. Community Cleanup: Join or organize a community clean up organization. By restoring public areas like parks, streets and natural areas, you can help raise awareness about the impact of pollution. 

  10. Reach Out to Representatives: Use Zero Emissions Day to advocate for technology and initiatives that promote emissions reduction and climate action. Write letters or emails to your elected officials urging them to take meaningful steps toward a sustainable future.

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