What Will You Do to Celebrate Earth Day 2012?
One person can make a difference … 31+ steps you can take now to help the earth.
Each year Earth Day, April 22nd marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
Today, more than ever, we need to take time to consider the issues because the environmental problems facing the world are enormous.
Earth’s finite resources are being stretched to the limit by rapid population growth, air, water and soil pollution, and much more.
Global warming, spurred by our use of fossil fuels for energy and transportation as well as mass scale agriculture and other human activities, threatens to push our planet beyond its ability to support human life unless we can meet the growing need for food, energy and economic opportunity within a sustainable environment.
In the face of such huge global problems, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless, and to find ourselves asking …
What difference can one person make?
The answer is that one person can make ALL the difference in the world. Each of us has the power through our daily decisions and lifestyle choices to make our homes and communities more environmentally friendly.
Steps you can take today to help the earth
Fair warning … this is a longer post than usual, but I believe (hope) you’ll find the following information useful and inspirational.
Make the switch to reusable shopping bags
Plastic bags end up as litter and kill thousands of marine mammals every year that mistake the floating bags for food. Plastic bags that get buried in landfills may take up to 1,000 years to break down, and in the process they separate into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate soil and water. If all that weren’t bad enough, the production of plastic bags consume millions of gallons of oil that could be used for fuel and heating.
Many people opt for Paper bags in the belief they are better, but they carry their own set of environmental problems. For example, according to the American Forest and Paper Association, in 1999 the U.S. alone used 10 billion paper grocery bags, which adds up to a lot of trees.
What’s the answer? Reusable cloth bags.
Recycle paper, plastic, newspaper, glass and aluminum cans. If there isn’t a recycling program at your workplace, school, or in your community, ask about starting one. By recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
At the office … why not organize a shredding party and clean out your old files that loyally sit there year after year just gathering dust. You may not actually recycle a ton, but the paper will mount up. A cubic yard of stacked paper weighs about 600 pounds!
- Recycle old and unwanted glasses
- Recycle old and unused cell phones and other digital devices
- Donate gently used books to libraries, shelters for homeless or victims of abuse
Encourage your children to recycle their old toys and games
By giving their old toys and games to other children who could make use of them, your children learn two valuable lessons: One is about giving to others and the second is about reusing and recycling instead of throwing things away. Adults can also do this with clothes, electrical items, books and more.
Rid the roads of litter
Many groups use Earth Day to clear roadways, highways and neighborhood streets and local companies often sponsor the purchase of supplies such as gloves, bags and refreshments. Check your community calendar to see if there’s a highway clean up group you can join. You’ll meet some terrific people!
Live near a river? Participate in the National River Clean-up. Since its start in 1991, more than 1,045,000 volunteers have participated in thousands of cleanups across the country covering more than 205,500 miles of waterways. These cleanups have removed more than 13 million pounds of litter and debris from America’s rivers and streams. To learn more visit the American River’s website.
Reduce Junk Mail
Reducing the amount of junk mail you receive will save energy, natural resources, landfill space, tax dollars, and a lot of your personal time.
- 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in U.S. landfills annually. The average American household receives unsolicited junk mail equal to 1.5 trees every year—more than 100 million trees for all U.S. households combined.
- 44 percent of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but only half that much junk mail (22 percent) is recycled.
- Americans pay $370 million annually to dispose of junk mail that doesn’t get recycled. On average, Americans spend 8 months opening junk mail in the course of their lives.
Register Your Name to Reduce Junk Mail: OK, now that you’ve decided to reduce the volume of junk mail you receive, how do you go about it? Start by registering with the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). It won’t guarantee you a life free of junk mail, but it can make a big difference.
Get Off Junk Mail Lists: You can also go to OptOutPreScreen.com, which can enable you to remove your name from lists that mortgage, credit card and insurance companies use to mail you offers and solicitations. It’s a centralized website run by the four major credit bureaus in the United States: Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit bureaus to delete your name from their rented lists if you make the request.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are more energy efficient and less expensive to use than the traditional incandescent bulbs invented by Thomas Edison. For example, compact fluorescent light bulbs use at least two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and they last up to 10 times longer.
Eat locally grown food to reduce global warming
The average fresh food item on our dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there. Buying locally produced food eliminates the need for all that fuel-guzzling transportation. Another benefit of eating locally is helping the local economy. Farmers on average receive only 20 cents of each food dollar spent; the rest goes for transportation, processing, packaging, refrigeration and marketing. Additionally, eating locally encourages the use of local farmland for farming, thus keeping development in check while preserving open space. Talk about a win/win!
Visit a landfill near you
Ever been to your local landfill? Trust me, if you aren’t sold on recycling and reusing now, you WILL be after your visit … you’ll never think about trash in the same way again.
Attend an earth day event in your area
The centerpiece of Earth Day in the United States will be a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Sunday, April 22nd. Tens of thousands of environmentally-conscious people from all walks of life and all parts of the country will be joined by civic leaders and celebrities for this special event to galvanize the environmental movement. Check your community calendar to find an event near you.
Set an example for your children by creating your own Earth Day family event
Create a zero-carbon day by turning off the TV and spending time outside. Walk, take the bus or ride bikes wherever you go; play a game, or borrow some library books and as a family read up on an issue such as pollution, endangered species, water shortages, recycling, and climate change.
Plant a tree in your yard or the yard of an elderly or disabled friend or neighbor. Make a little ceremony out of it – it’ll be a fun family day, you’ll be setting a great example for the kids as well as helping to “green” your neighborhood.
Even more ideas …
- Recycle your old appliances or dispose of them properly.
- Clean the coils behind or underneath your refrigerator with a tapered appliance brush to keep it running efficiently.
- Take advantage of online bill paying options.
- Plant a tree and/or a garden
- Start washing larger loads, and when loads are smaller, choose a lower water level setting if your machine does not automatically do this.
- Dust off the slow cooker. You’ll use a lot less energy than cooking a meal across several burners and in the oven.
- Skip pre-rinsing dishes – you’ll save up to 6,500 gallons of water per year.
- Opt for the cold-water wash cycle, which will save you about $60 a year.
- Stop buying bottled water and learn about water crisis issues
- Give up drying cleaning.
- Instead of the electric dryer, hang laundry outside on warm days.
- Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F and insulate hot-water pipes to knock up to 5 percent off your energy bills.
- Install a low-flow showerhead. It will reduce hot-water use by up to 50 percent.
- Upgrade to a low-flow toilet to save 4,000 gallons per year.
- Drain your water heater to remove sediment, which can decrease efficiency.
- Fix a leaky faucet.
- Put your PC to sleep. Save $25 to $75 each year by using the system standby or hibernating feature on your computer.
- Plug electronics into a power strip so that you can turn them all off at once.
Spread the word
If you’re a blogger share your own creative thoughts on how to celebrate Earth Day. If you’re not, why not Tweet, “Like” or otherwise share this article to remind everyone you know about Earth Day and how we all can make a difference.
To learn more about Earth Day and more ways to get involved visit the Earth Day Network website here: http://www.earthday.org/2012
If you enjoyed this article or would like to contribute to the conversation, please take a moment to leave a comment, love to hear from you!
I hope you will consider joining the IGG Community! It only takes a couple of minutes to sign up, and then each new article will be conveniently delivered to your email inbox … and of course you’ll also receive your Free Welcome Gift.
To learn more – press here.