50 Actions for 50 Years Challenge

50 Actions for 50 Years

50 Actions for 50 Year celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by highlighting individual sustainable actions we can take while at home. This list was inspired by similar projects from schools in the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium (NECSC), who were looking for ways to keep students, faculty and staff engaged in Earth Day activities during COVID-19. The Sustainability Interns and Eco-Reps worked with Facilities, Communications, and the Paulson Initiative to create a list tailored to Wellesley. The list focuses on actions that can be done individually or with family while practicing social distancing guidelines. We encourage you to try as many actions as you can, and learn ways to reduce waste, conserve natural resources, appreciate nature, and practice wellness. 


50 Actions for 50 Years

  1. Sign up for Wellesley’s sustainability-related newsletters to stay in the loop and get info on virtual events, campaigns, and more! You can sign up for the Paulson Initiative and Center for the Environment ones online, and email Wellesley Facilities and EnAct to sign up for theirs.

  2. Support a food bank, small business, or mutual aid network in your community. Here are a few suggestions for the Boston Area. A quick Google search should be able to connect you to others in your area.

  3. Connect with friends, family, and neighbors while practicing social distancing. Write a letter, make a phone call, schedule a video chat, or send a text to stay in touch.

  4. Utilize online resources from your local library and Wellesley’s! There are numerous ebooks available to help keep calm and carry on.

  5. Listen to a podcast about the environment or climate change.

  6. Register to vote. Showing up at the polls is the best way to help ensure that your community is represented by leaders who will act on climate change.

  7. If you are a Wellesley student, participate in an EnAct meeting! EnAct is Wellesley’s environmental action student organization. Meetings are continuing via Zoom every Wednesday at 7 pm EDT. Email EnAct for meeting information. Also, join EnAct’s WEngage and Facebook pages!

  8. Start an Eco-Challenge team with your family and friends! This program helps motivate you to commit to habits that are better for the environment. 

  9. Take a break to read an article or study about climate change. Check out sources like Yale Climate Connections, NY Times Climate and Environment, and Grist.

  10. Tune into an episode of Global Weirding, a YouTube series by climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe.

  11. Explore activities, games, and videos from NASA Climate Kids with younger members of your family, or take a virtual tour of the Natural History Museum.

  12. Watch an environmental film or documentary. The DC Environmental Film Festival is a good place to find recommendations; some of their 2020 films are currently streaming online.

  13. Visit a local park. Being outside does not mean you have to be near other people; it can be a solitary activity or for immediate family only. Before heading out, check local guidelines and park closures to ensure the area is not crowded or closed. When choosing your path, avoid narrow trails to practice safe physical distance.

  14. If visiting a park isn’t feasible, you can virtually explore at least 30 National Parks from home with Google Earth Virtual National Park Tours. National Park week starts April 18!

  15. You can also try your hand at virtual birdwatching! All About Birds has numerous bird cams available or follow the Paulson Initiative (@wellesleypaulson) to follow spring emerging on campus.

  16. Or take a short walk around your immediate neighborhood. Look for signs of spring (flowers, animals, insects) and take pictures of them with your phone. Take part in the @wellesleypaulson Hug-a-Tree campaign! Studies show that short breaks outside have many benefits, such as better focus and improved health. Make sure to practice safe physical distancing.

  17. Document your neighborhood nature finds by signing up for the City Nature Challenge happening April 24th-27th! Follow the Paulson Initiative on Instagram (@wellesleypaulson) for more updates. 

  18. Go out for a bike ride. Biking is a great way to explore the outdoors with social distancing. Please wear a helmet! Our hospitals are already stretched thin, so make sure to review the biking rules of the road and take extra safety precautions. 

  19. If you’re inside, try to let in as much natural light as possible, and enjoy some fresh air by opening a window. 

  20. There are a number of herbs that will flourish indoors. Try growing basil, mint, or thyme from your windowsill.

  21. Move your body in a way that feels good. Feel energized and refreshed by walking, registering for an online PERA Zoom fitness class, or simply stretching for a few minutes. 

  22. Feeling stressed? Take a moment to pause. Wellesley College is offering online mindfulness classes on Zoom. John Bailes, the mindfulness instructor, has scheduled group classes on Mondays, and Wednesdays.

  23. You can also participate in the Paulson Initiatives' nature wellness practices! Follow @wellesleypaulson for more info! 

  24. Take a moment to thank yourself for taking a look at these actions and thinking about ways that you can help your community and our planet. You’re awesome.

  25. A weekly meal plan can help to reduce food waste and unnecessary purchases while allowing you to be creative in the kitchen! 
  26. Make a vegetable broth using vegetable scraps from your kitchen or reduce springtime food waste in other creative ways: try carrot-top pestocrispy potato skinscandied orange peels, or cauliflower stem dip
  27. Our food choices can have significant environmental impacts. Try a healthy and sustainable vegan or vegetarian meal to reduce your meat and dairy consumption!
  28. Try regrowing foods such as avocados, herbs, tomatoes, and potatoes from kitchen scraps.
  29. Start an at home composting program (Composting can be an option in the city and the suburbs).
  30. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Carry around a reusable water bottle as a reminder.
  31. Learn how to repair worn clothing with this easy mending guide
  32. Or learn how to repurpose old fabric scraps to make scrunchies, headbands, and other fun gifts!
  33. Try a shampoo bar or bamboo toothbrushes to reduce the use of plastic in your bathroom.
  34. Refresh your recycling knowledge by watching Wellesley College’s Recycling video or visiting your local municipality’s online recycling guide since guidelines change by state and even by town. 
  35. Audit your plastic waste for a week, taking pictures of what you use before recycling or throwing them away. This step will help you to visualize your plastic usage so that you can create a plan for a life without plastic.
  36. Once you’re aware of the plastic waste you generate every week, explore ways to break up with plastic for good and reduce your daily plastic use
  37. Recycle batteries from small appliances and your electronics. Use rechargeable batteries instead!
  38. Try your hand at making a simple non-toxic cleaning spray for your home.
  39. Calculate your personal carbon footprint with The Nature Conservancy to better understand the natural resources you use on a daily basis. 

  40. Reduce your showering time by 5 minutes or more. You could save more than 4,500 gallons of water annually.

  41. Turn off lights when you leave a room and unplug appliances and electronics that are not in use to prevent energy vampires.

  42. Run your dishwasher only when it’s full to save water and energy.

  43. Conserve water outdoors by only watering your lawn in the early morning or late at night. Use drought-resistant plants in dry areas.

  44. Move your heater thermostat down two degrees in winter and up two degrees in the summer to reduce your carbon footprint.

  45. Keep your tires properly inflated and get better gas mileage. Reduce your carbon footprint 20 pounds for each gallon of gas saved.

  46. Change your paper bills to online billing. Not only is this convenient in the long run, but you’ll be saving trees and the fuel it takes to deliver your bills by truck. Check your local service provider’s website to see if this is available.

  47. Take 15 minutes to stop junk mail for good and prevent clutter and paper use in the process.

  48. Reduce printing needs by reading documents online and enabling double-sided printing. To reduce eye strain, look into enabling night mode on your computer to limit blue light exposure.  

  49. Enable power-saving modes on your computers and printers (sleep or standby) and don’t forget to to power down your computers, monitors and printers at night. Check out LTS’ Sustainability page for tips on how to enable double-sided printing, energy-saver settings, and more!

  50. Bring your sustainable habits back to Wellesley when you return! Some ways to get involved could be to sign up for a Green Department Certification, become an Eco-Rep in your Res hall, or explore other ways to appreciate our beautiful campus!