Earth Day is here again, and with it new inspiration to "Save the Planet!" But to really have an impact, efforts must go further than one day of conservation. Let today be the start of a personal commitment to do more for the environment. No moving to the woods in seclusion isn't necessary, just incorporate some of these simple practices into daily life and make your own beneficial impact on the environment. It is never too late to do your part!
Pauperize plastic. Consciously reduce the amount of plastic products you buy. Avoid buying items packaged in plastic. Whenever available, look for produce and other items that aren’t over-packaged. Look for food in glass jars rather than plastic ones, and detergents in boxes rather than bottles. Not only are you reducing the plastic you use, you’re sending a powerful message to the makers of those products that you don’t like plastic packaging.
Plant a Tree (or a whole forest)! According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “record wildfire seasons in recent years have destroyed millions of trees in forests around the country. Many areas have burned so severely that replanting is necessary. Yet much of the U.S. Forest Service budget has been diverted to simply fighting these massive fires, with much less funding left for replanting. The Forest Service has identified a backlog of more than one million acres of America's national forests that need to be replanted. And each year, with every wildfire, storm, or insect epidemic, the backlog steadily increases.” Please note that Designated National Wilderness areas and areas that may regenerate naturally are not included in this backlog. If you cannot plant a tree today, try to plant one on National Arbor Day, Friday, April 25th.
Attend an event or even better, volunteer. Even if you have to work today there are many online events that will help draw attention to the many issues facing our environment. The EPA is holding a Thunderclap event online today and is looking for participants. To get the word out about what can be done to reduce carbon pollution, the EPA is choosing to employ a new tool called Thunderclap, which is like a virtual flash mob.
Here’s how it works: you agree to let Thunderclap send a specific, one-time message on your behalf to your social networks at on Earth Day April 22 at 12:00 pm EDT. If 500 or more people agree, the message will go out on everyone’s walls and feeds at the same time. But if fewer than 500 agree, nothing happens.
Here’s the message that Thuderclap will use: "For Earth Day, I commit to protect the climate. Take small actions that add up! http://epa.gov/climatechange/wycd #ActOnClimate"
For additional event information, please visit, www.epa.gov/earthday/events.html
Eat less meat. If you are not ready to give up meat altogether, take the Meatless Monday pledge. Over the last 10 years alone, total global meat consumption has grown by 20%. This global increase translates to the meat industry generating nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide, which equals out to more than the entire transportation sector, according to The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization! Eating less meat, even just one day a week, can really make an impact. For instance, if over the course of a year, if one less burger a week was consumed, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles. Skip steak once a week with your family, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for nearly three months.
TAKE THE MEATLESS MONDAY PLEDGE
Clean Green. You come into contact with chemicals every day. This is called chemical exposure. While some chemical exposures are deemed safe, others are not. Illness can happen when a certain amount of a harmful chemicals enters the body. Harmful chemicals can get into the body by inhalation, food & drink or through physical contact in which the chemicals are then absorbed by the skin.
Green cleaning methods and products create healthier surroundings by helping to improve indoor air quality and reduce health problems that traditional products and methods can cause. This means fewer incidences of irritations or sensitivities to the indoor environment. Additionally, implementing a green cleaning regimen can reduce the negative effect your cleaning has on the environment. Using environmentally friendly methods and products in the proper manner helps decrease air pollution, water pollution, ozone depletion and global climate change. Green practices also promote recycling, reducing the use of raw materials and minimize toxic products requiring disposal.
Use non-toxic essential oils to add fragrance to your green cleaning products.
Get hooked on glass. “According to a 2001 report of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), roughly 1.5 million tons of plastic are expended in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year. Besides, the sheer number of plastic bottles produced each year, the energy required to manufacture and transport these bottles to market severely drains limited fossil fuels. Bottled water companies, due to their unregulated use of valuable resources and their production of billions of plastic bottles have presented a significant strain on the environment.” http://www.allaboutwater.org/environment.html
BYOB. Bring your own bag. Some estimates suggest that purchasing a single set of reusable shopping bags and using them every time you go shopping could eliminate the disposal of as many as 20,000 disposable plastic bags. If you purchase quality cloth shopping bags, they will be reusable for years to come. Making plastic shopping bags requires the burning of fossil fuels, the cutting down of trees and, in some cases, the use of unfair labor practices.
Eat organic & local. Locally grown food reduces the modern average of 1,300 miles food travels from “field to plate.” According to the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), “Transporting food long distances uses tremendous energy: it takes 435 fossil-fuel calories to fly a 5 calorie strawberry from California to New York.” The Organic Trade Association notes that if every farmer in the U.S. converted to organic production, we could eliminate 500 million pounds of persistent and harmful pesticides from entering the environment annually.
Upcycle (up•cy•cle) is defined as a verb and means to process (used goods or waste material) so as to produce something that is often better than the original.
Need some inspiration? Just check out Pinterest for myriads of upcycling ideas. Even those who are not so crafty can find easy and stylish ways to reuse old stuff, like this simple upcycle craft which turns keys from a computer keyboard into hip magnets that would be a great gift for any technology lover.
Save your scraps. Start a compost pile. Compost enriches soils and the ability to help regenerate poor soils while also helping to clean up contaminated soil. The composting process encourages the production of beneficial micro-organisms which in turn break down the organic matter to create humus. Humus increases the nutrient content in soils and helps soils retain moisture. Compost has also been shown to help suppress plant diseases and pests, reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers, and promote higher yields of agricultural crops. Composting organic materials that have been diverted from landfills ultimately avoids the production of methane and leachate formulation in the landfills. Compost has the ability to prevent pollutants in storm water runoff from reaching surface water resources. Compost has also been shown to prevent erosion and silting on embankments parallel to creeks, lakes, and rivers, and prevents erosion and turf loss on roadsides, hillsides, playing fields, and golf courses