*April 22 is Earth Day. It’s not a hallowed observance but it should be. It’s the planet that sustains our life. That is worth celebrating.

This year, Earth Day is themed after  “A Billion Acts of Green,”  the largest environmental service campaign in the world whose  initiatives further the goal of measurably reducing carbon emissions and supporting sustainability. Their goal is to register one billion acts of green in advance of the global Earth Summit in Rio in 2012. So far over 100,500,000 people have pledged to do things from not using bottle water anymore to riding their bikes to work. You can take the pledge at http://act.earthday.org/.

Earth Day began as a grass roots movement aimed at inspiring us to appreciate the planet and protect it from human harm. Each year it grows in importance and in new initiatives. And each subsequent generation embraces the charge to protect our climate, conserve energy, recycle and reduce waste, and create more sustainability in our homes, schools and business.

I’m committed to doing my part to help preserve our planet. And calculating my carbon foot print was a good place to start.

A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact that our daily activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases we produce, which is measured in units of carbon dioxide.

I found out that my carbon footprint is 5.4 tons a year. The national average is 9.44. I’ve also learned there is even more I can do to decrease my carbon imprint and help make the planet a healthier place. It’s a lot easier than you might think. Here are just a few easy suggestions:

Use electronic invitations. Some of us use to balk at getting an email invitation. It seemed so impersonal and cold. But the reality is most of us spend a large portion of our day managing our professional and personal business on-line. The benefit of electronic invitations are they save time, money and trees. Some of my favorite sites are https://www.greenvelope.com , http://www.pingg.com/, and  http://evite.com the site that most of us are familiar with.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle. This reduces the excessive amounts of fossil fuels and hydropower required to dispose of these materials. And those bottles and cans amount to dollars and cents and who couldn’t use a little extra change in this economy. Don’t forget about recycling your d old computers, cell phones, televisions and gadgets because they are our biggest source of waste. But you can turn them in and get dollars for them. Just visit www.gazelle.com and find out how you can turn your trash into cash

Install a Faucet Mount Filter System. By switching from bottled water to a faucet mount filter system, you will not only save money, but you can help save the planet. Consumers use 1.5 million tons of plastic water bottles each year and only 50% of that plastic is recyclable. It’s a big win for the planet and money in your bank account. They retail for about $50 and each replacement filter produces about 100 gallons of 99.9% filtered water.

Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). CFLs reduce the release of greenhouse gas emissions and are safer because they burn at a significantly lower temperature than incandescent and halogen lights. They also last 10 times longer and use 66% less energy than incandescent bulbs while delivering the same light levels. CFLs accrue a net savings between $30 and $45 over their lifetimes.

Turn down the hot water heater and your house thermostat during the winter. Set your water heater to 130° F and thermostat to 55° F in the winter months when you go to bed or leave home. These simple changes can prevent the emission of more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of a year, while cutting your energy bill by more than 10%t.

Inflate your car tires. It can improve your gas mileage by about 3.3 percent — a savings of about 7 cents per gallon. With gas prices hitting record highs, you can’t afford not to keep your ties inflated.

Purchase Energy Star-labeled appliances. Energy Star products are the most efficient appliances and can provide a 30% return or better through lower utility bills. I recently purchase an energy star refrigerator and I have notice a savings on my utility bill. And my new stainless steel retro fridge looks great in my county French kitchen.

Wash and rinse your clothes in cold water. If we all used the cold water setting on our washers, we could save about 30 million tons of carbon dioxide each year — and more than $3 billion in energy costs, collectively.  By the way, cold water cleans your laundry just as well as hot water.

Get out of your car. I did it. I’ve gone Metro and have saved a ton of money and hopefully a ton of carbon dioxide too. Our cars are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Walk, bike, carpool or use public transportation where you can. It’s a lot easier to go green than you think. If you’d like to calculate your carbon footprint and learn more about other ways to go green, visit http://green.yahoo.com/calculator.

(If you have comments about Veronica’s View, email them to [email protected])