Today is Earth Day. It is celebrated every year on April 22. And is held worldwide annually to demonstrate support for ecological awareness. But I say we need to make everyday Earth Day.
April 22 is designated as International Mother Earth Day in a resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2009 and is celebrated in more than 192 countries every year.
The truth is, we live a privileged life and by doing so we create a large ecological foot print. Do you know what yours is? Take a test to find out. I did and was amazed at how many of our planets resources I need to sustain my way of life! And I consider myself fairly conscious when it comes to ecological awareness.
What can we all do to reduce our footprint each and everyday?
- Buy organic and local-There’s a better chance the food was grown in an eco-friendly way, and if it’s locally grown, it didn’t have to travel that far. This also goes for those double lattes — coffee often has a large carbon footprint because of the distance those beans had to travel to get here, and how they were produced.
- Pay attention to packaging-When out shopping, try to go to stores or co-ops that keep packaging to a minimum. For example, you may chose to buy the loose tomatoes rather than boxed or plastic-wrapped tomatoes. Also, take reusable bags to the grocery store.
- Ditch bottled water-Bottled water has a huge carbon footprint — it’s bottled at one location in small plastic bottles and shipped all over. Try buying a reusable water bottle or canteen for your water. Also, a lot of restaurants have made the move from offering fancy bottled water, usually imported from an exotic source, to using in-house filtration systems that make tap water a good choice.
- Energy-proof your home-Make sure all of your windows close properly and that the attic in your home is properly insulated. Also, keep your heating and cooling systems properly maintained, and switch to reusable filters . Use LED lighting where ever possible.
- Go native-Use native plant species to landscape around your home or business. And remember, green plants are a good way to offset carbon. So plant something, anything — it helps.
- Window shop-If you have the urge to spend, try window shopping or browsing first. This helps ensure you are only buying things you really need, or really want, and you’re not just impulse buying. Remember, every item in a store, no matter how small, has a footprint.
- Take a direct flight-If you need to travel by airplane, try taking a direct flight when at all possible.
- Switch water heaters to vacation mode-Most water heaters have a “vacation” setting for when you are away from home for an extended period of time. Switching to that “away” mode still keeps the water warm.
- Unplug it-Unplug appliances that you don’t use frequently. Most electronics have a standby mode that siphons energy even when not in use. Try using a power strip for groups of electronic items. One flick of the switch and it’s all off.
- Keep your car-With gas prices seemingly always on the rise, it’s tempting to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle. But if your older-model car is in good condition, you’re better off keeping it in good running condition. Also, try more eco-friendly modes of transport, like buses, trains, a bicycle, telecommuting or even walking.
- Use cold water-No, not in the shower… but maybe in the washer. It takes a lot of energy to heat up water .
- Have the family over-Family gatherings are a good way to spend some quality time with loved ones, with very little carbon impact. Cooking and entertaining for larger groups is more efficient and, per person, a lot less expensive.
- Coordinate time for errands-A lot of us try to run errands in-between work and other commitments. Try bundling errands together to reduce how far you need to travel.
- The Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle-Try buying less, and reusing and fixing things when you can instead of buying new. And for a lot of people, recycling is as easy as rolling the trash bin to the curb. Just remember to do it at work, too.
This is just a partial list. For a more in depth list take a look at Oregon’s Environmental Council’s list. They break it down by home, shopping, school and work.
By becoming vigilant in our everyday life we can begin to make a difference! Won’t you join in turning every day into Earth Day? What can you do?