Doing Your Part for Earth Day
Havasu Falls, the Bahamas, the Swiss Alps, the Grecian shores… Where is your favorite place on the planet?
Plant a Tree—or Several!
Trees are a crucial part of the ecosystem. They improve air quality by taking in carbon dioxide and providing us with oxygen. Trees are also important for sustaining wildlife and for soil preservation, among other things. According to the World Bank, more than half a million square miles of forest—a land mass larger than South Africa—were lost between 1990 and 2016.
Because change starts with you and me, this Earth Day, consider gathering your family, coworkers, religious organization, civic group, school, or community and have each member plant a tree. If just one person in 10 in the United States did this, we would have more than 32 million new trees.
Reducing Use of Tree-Based Products
Replace paper products—paper towels, toilet paper, etc.—with equivalents made of bamboo, which is much faster-growing than trees. One company whose mission is to provide products that are environmentally friendly—Grove Collaborative—offers replacements for traditionally tree-based products with their bamboo counterparts. They also offer cleaning products that don’t contain poisons that will leach into the ecosystem. Grove contributes a portion of the profits from every shipment to the Arbor Day Foundation, and their goal is to plant 1 million new trees in the next three years.
Also, consider eliminating your paper bills and switch to eco-friendly e-bills—this could save millions of trees every year. You can also buy recycled paper products, such as notebook paper.
Reduce Carbon Emissions
According to the EPA, 29% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US are due to the provision of goods, which includes extracting resources, production, manufacturing, packaging, transport, and the delivery of consumer products. When you buy used or upcycled products or recycle unwanted items, you are making a significant contribution toward reducing carbon emissions from the provision of goods. Read on for more ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.
There are plenty of simple ways to reduce CO2 emissions. Carpooling can make a big difference over time; or, if possible, walk or ride your bike to work. Consider switching to a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle, which can pay dividends in the form of tax credits, not to mention environmental benefits. Keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage as much as 3%, and properly maintaining your vehicle can make a significant impact; repairing compromised oxygen sensors can improve fuel efficiency up to 40%. Take advantage of cruise control, which uses less fuel, and avoid unnecessary acceleration.
Reducing or altogether avoiding air travel can make a big impact; consider replacing face-to-face meetings with videoconferencing. When it’s time for a vacation, consider a staycation or travel somewhere within a drivable distance. If you must fly, fly shorter distances and fly economy class (if it’s good enough for Prince William, it’s good enough for you!).
In the Home
Being eco-conscious goes hand-in-hand with being energy-conscious. Simple things, like turning off the lights when you leave the room, not wasting water, and keeping your thermostat at a reasonable temperature (not too high or too low) can go a long way. Make sure your home is insulated and sealed against drafts and air leaks. Replace shower heads, faucet heads, and toilets with water-efficient models.
When it comes to appliances, buy only those with an Energy Star rating. The Samsung 24 Cu. Ft. 3-Door French Door Refrigerator with Family Hub™ keeps you and your family connected and is Energy Star–certified. For a low cost, the Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor prevents what could potentially become expensive problems by detecting excess water coming from your sump pump.
Reduce your use of plastics wherever possible, replacing them with alternatives. New food wraps are on the market that replace plastic bags. They are washable and self-adhering, thanks to a beeswax coating, and are reusable up to a year or so. Some restaurants are beginning to replace plastic straws and lids with paper-based equivalents. If you dine in a restaurant that has not taken on this practice, consider making a suggestion to the management that they do so. And, replacing plastic water bottles with refillable/reusable bottles can make a big impact.
What’s on the Table
The EPA estimates that the production and transport of food is responsible for 13% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. You can reduce this by buying locally grown food and reducing your consumption of meat and dairy products, which involve the use of pesticides, fossil fuel–based fertilizers, and gasoline used in their production and transportation.
Beyond Earth Day
Because we live on Mother Earth 365 days per year, not just one, every day is Earth Day. There are steps that we all can take to improve the condition of our shared home. Think of it as giving back to the planet that provides for us every day of our lives.
Consider volunteering for organizations that are making contributions toward improving the environment and join groups whose core mission is to care for the planet. Buy products that are ethically sourced, buy organic, and buy local. Start supporting companies that are on a green mission—those that offer products and services that are environmentally friendly.
You can start an environmental pledge board at your workplace, school, community center, or place of worship. People can post notes to the board stating what they pledge to do for the environment for the next 3 months, year, or other designated time frame.
Does your community offer a recycling program? If not, contact local lawmakers and suggest that such a plan be implemented, and look into anything else you can do to help start the program. Attend community events for Earth Day and those that are environmentally-centered; simply attending is a show of support, and while there, you can connect with eco-conscious people and organizations. If the programs or events in your area are nonexistent or lacking, consider setting something up; it could be a community clean-up, a fair, or an awareness campaign. You might also consider reaching out to schools with your ideas about getting kids in on environmental efforts.
Reach out to local, state, and national lawmakers to express your concerns. Before you write, consider what subjects are the most pressing and what can be done to address them, whether it’s the implementation of policies, programs, or something else. Offer specific solutions and details of programs and policies that you would like to see and that would directly address the issues and concerns you raise.