*First I want to wish you a belated Happy Earth Day, which was April 22, 2013. It’s the 43nd observance of the “little day that could” grow into a global movement and have a soaring impact on behaviors and policies that protect our climate, conserve energy, recycle and reduce waste, and create more sustainability in our homes, schools and business. It’s a grass roots movement that grew into a stately tree.
It’s never too late to say “Happy Earth Day.” In fact, I might be right on time. To my surprise, earlier this week I heard that it was Earth Week. Then just last night on an NPR station, the announcer wished his listeners a Happy Earth Month. No matter if it’s Earth Day, week or month, it’s worth celebrating 365 days a year.
I’m committed to doing my part to help preserve our planet. Here are just a few easy suggestions to implement in honor of Earth Day and the other 364 days of the year:
Eat more foods that are processed, packaged and grown locally. When food doesn’t have to travel far, it is not only fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances from other states or countries; it reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials. A great first step is visiting your local Farmer’s Market. Knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown or raised enables you to choose safe food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seed in their operations. Local farmers can offer produce varieties bred for taste and freshness rather than for shipping and long shelf life. Buying local food also helps to make farming more profitable and selling farmland for development less attractive. For a list of Farmer’s Markets in your area visit The Eat Well Guide at http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home.
Grow your own food. What better way to celebrate Earth Day, week or month than getting close to the earth – literally. Think about it: there is nothing more local than growing food in your own backyard, windowsill or in containers. Join the club and you won’t be alone. Eatable gardens are growing. According to the 2013 Winter Gardening Trends Research Report, “Among the 68 million gardening households that have a lawn, garden or grow plants in containers, 81.5% (approximately 55.5 million households) have grown edible plants (fruits/vegetables/herbs) since 2009.” Why the bumper crop of home grown veggies, herbs and produce? Because when you grow your own food you know where it came from and how it was treated. The move back to organics and the wealth of organic gardening tips and products has made it a snap. Besides you save money, get exercise digging in the dirt, and gardening is a great stress reliever and relationship builder with your family. Visit Organic Gardening for more tips and my new favorite site LA Green Grounds.
Use electronic invitations. Some of us use to balk at getting an email invitation. It seemed so impersonal and tacky. But the reality is most of us spend a large portion of our day managing our professional and personal business on-line. The benefits of electronic invitations are they save time, money and trees. Some of my favorite sites are Green Envelope https://www.greenvelope.com, Pingg http://www.pingg.com/, and Evite http://evite.com the site that most of us are familiar with.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. This is an easy way to make a big impact. When you find ways to reduce, reuse and recycle waste, 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 old computers, cell phones, televisions and gadgets because they are our biggest source of waste. Here are a few sites. Some turn your trash into cash; others are great places to offload the excess.
- Gazelle is a reCommerce service that helps you sell your used electronics. They buy Apple iPhones, Apple Laptops, HTC Cell Phones, Nokia Cell Phones, Apple iPads, Apple Desktops, Motorola Cell Phones, Apple iPods, Apple Displays, Samsung Cell Phones, Apple TVs, Blackberry Cell Phones, and LG Cell Phones to mention a few.
- 1-800-Recycling.com.This site is a one stop shop for all things recycling, from household and yard waste to hazardous waste and electronics. You can find links to municipal resources and community programs, and recycling locations for just about anything there.
- e-Stewards.The e-Stewards Initiative is a project of the Basel Action Network (BAN), which is a 501(c)3 non-profit, charitable organization. Their site has extensive information about the growing problem of e-waste and a tool to help you find certified e-Stewards Recyclers near you.
- The Consumer Electronics Association’s Greener Gadgets. This site is a great source for information about buying green as well as a nationwide list of certified e-cycling locations.
Install a Faucet Mount Filter System. By switching from bottled water to a mounted faucet 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 pocket. The systems 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. This simple act 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. Since I purchased my energy star refrigerator a few years ago I have noticed a savings on my utility bill.
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 because of the advent of high performance detergents.
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. At least three days a week I park and ride. Our cars are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Walk, bike, carpool or use public transportation where you can.
Let me leave you with this: “A Billion Acts of Green,” is the largest environmental service campaign in the world whose initiatives celebrate Earth Day by advancing the goal of measurably reducing carbon emissions and supporting sustainability. Over 1,019,862,718 people have pledged to do things from not using bottled water anymore to riding their bikes to work. Their goal is to reach 2 billion people. You can help them reach their goal by taking the pledge at http://act.earthday.org/.
So whether it’s Earth Day, Earth Week or Earth Month, it’s our planet and what better time to show Mother Earth a little love than now. Go forth and do good fellow Earthlings.
Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. She is the owner of Bromont Avenue Foods. She is the author of “Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning Heart Healthy Recipes.” Visit http://bromontavefoods.com for more information. For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected].