Happy Earth Day to us!
So we’ve all seen it on the TV, on the web and probably heard about it on the radio and from friends. But I don’t think I ever knew the (un)official definition of what Earth Day really is. Sure I knew it was a good thing, I mean we all need to step up and do our part for our planet, but what are the specifics?
Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970. Many communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. The first Earth Week originated in Philadelphia in 1970 (starting April 16 and culminating on Earth Day, April 22.) Earth Day Network, a group that wishes to become the coordinator of Earth Day globally, asserts that Earth Day is now observed on April 22 on virtually every country on Earth.”
So now that you are so well informed, what are you going to do with that info? I’ll assume most of us will just think “green” but not change too much. Hopefully though there are some of you out there that will maybe make a change. The change doesn’t have to be big, just a small one will do. If you need some help deciding on what something simple might be, here’s a basic list of 10 of my favorite which I try to follow regularly.
1. CHANGE YOUR LIGHT BULBS (or a all of them!)
If every household in the United State replaced one regular lightbulb with one of those new compact fluorescent bulbs, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.
Don’t like the color of light? Use these bulbs for closets, laundry rooms and other places where it won’t irk you as much.
2. TURN OFF COMPUTERS AT NIGHT
By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year. If you don’t want to wait for your computer to start up, set it to turn on automatically a few minutes before you get to work, or boot up while you’re pouring your morning cup ‘o joe.
3. RECYCLE (or almost everything you use!!!)
Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn’t recycled it can take a million years to decompose. (my personal note… almost everyone has this at their fingertips now. It’s always sad to see people’s trash sitting by the road overflowing, and noticing they don’t have a recycling bin next to their can. Or if that bin is almost empty. If you don’t have a pick-up, then check your local area as there are tons of places that can take stuff.)
Twenty recycled aluminium cans can be made with the energy it takes to manufacture one brand new one.
Every ton of glass recycled saves the equivalent of nine gallons of fuel oil needed to make glass from virgin materials.
4. GO VEGETARIAN ONCE A WEEK (one of my favorites – but I go 7 days a week!)
One less meat-based meal a week helps the planet and your diet. For example: It requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. You will also also save some trees. For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed.
5. BRUSH WITHOUT RUNNING (I think I learned this from the Cosby Show or Fat Albert!)
You’ve heard this one before, but maybe you still do it. You’ll conserve up to five gallons per day if you stop. Daily savings in the U.S. alone could add up to 1.5 billion gallons–more water than folks use in the Big Apple.
6. RETHINK BOTTLED WATER
Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, instead taking thousands of years to decompose. Buy a reusable container and fill it with tap water, a great choice for the environment, your wallet, and possibly your health. The EPA’s standards for tap water are more stringent than the FDA’s standards for bottled water.
7. TURN OFF LIGHTS (love this one, especially if no one is around)
Always turn off incandescent bulbs when you leave a room. Fluorescent bulbs are more affected by the number of times it is switched on and off, so turn them off when you leave a room for 15 minutes or more. You’ll save energy on the bulb itself, but also on cooling costs, as lights contribute heat to a room.
8. GIVE IT AWAY (we’ve done this and it’s very fulfilling in the end)
Before you throw something away, think about if someone else might need it. Either donate to a charitable organization or post it on a web site designed to connect people and things, such as Freecycle.org.
9. PLASTIC BAGS SUCK (I think we all know this by now right?)
Each year the U.S. uses 84 billion plastic bags, a significant portion of the 500 billion used worldwide. They are not biodegradable, and are making their way into our oceans, and subsequently, the food chain. Stronger, reusable bags are an inexpensive and readily available option.
10. RECYCLE UNWANTED WIRE HANGERS (my wife is too smart, she’s been doing this for years!)
Wire hangers are generally made of steel, which is often not accepted by some recycling programs. So what do you do with them? Most dry cleaners will accept them back to reuse or recycle. (Cue Joan Crawford.)
Ok, so this is a simple list which almost any of us can do. I borrowed these ideas from a nice little site called 50 Ways to Help the Planet.
We’d love to hear your comments on things you do to help the Earth. There’s a million and one ways to be creative, learn some yourself and teach them to your friends, family and kids.
Thanks and Happy Earth Day