Five Easy Things You Can Do to Celebrate Earth Day Any Day of the Year
April 22nd is Earth Day and for most people, this day will start and end just like any other day does. Perhaps this year will be the first time that you follow through with all of those environmentally friendly changes that you have been wanting to make. Maybe you will decide to take a walk to the hardware store and buy a package of Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. If you are feeling particularly brave, maybe you will go out of your way to purchase a set of LED bulbs. Or instead, you may decide that planting a tree or installing a solar water heater is more up your avenue. Or maybe you aren't planning on doing anything at all. This year, I challenge you to do at least one green thing to celebrate Earth Day. You could even involve the family and start a new tradition. It's a lot easier and less expensive than you think.
But why wait for Earth day to make these changes? You don't need a holiday to celebrate our one and only planet do you? Make everyday special - by making conscience decisions to do things that lessen the impact on our planet you can make a really big difference in this world.
Plant a Tree
Planting a tree is a very good way to celebrate your love for our planet (and thank them for life-giving oxygen that they produce). The best time to plant a tree is in the early spring, so choose a tree that is known for its summer time resilience. Selecting a tree that is native to your area will also help improve the odds of a successful transplant. Most small to medium trees can be purchase for less than $100 (some for as cheap as $20) and are relatively easy to plant. Be sure to fertilize, water, and provide lots of sunshine to your new yard companion so that it thrive. Tree planting can be a very rewarding experience and also makes for a great new family tradition.
Replace Your Incandescent Light Bulbs
Compact Fluorescent light bulbs use significantly less energy to produce light than the older style of bulbs. Less energy usage means a lower electric bill and lower dependence on fossil fueled (mostly coal) power plants. This in turn means that your carbon footprint will decrease (along with the impacts to climate change). This was one of the first things I did when I bought my current home. I spent around $50 and got 30 new bulbs to replace the incandescent ones that my home had.
Make a New and Continued Effort to Conserve Water
Water conservation has got to be one of the most important things you can do to help the environment. Water is our most vital and precious resource, and it's getting harder to find with each passing year. The environmental (and monetary) costs of creating or finding clean, drinkable water are also rising. This year, make an effort to do at least a few things from the following list to conserve water. Mother nature (and your wallet) will thank you.
- Limit your showers to 5 minutes or less. Plan and improve your washing technique so that your showers become more efficient.
- Install low-flow shower heads and faucet fixtures.
- Don't run the water while brushing your teeth.
- Use food dye to check if your toilets are leaking. If they are, make the necessary repairs.
- Install an instant water heater on your kitchen sink. This will ensure that you don't have to wait for the water to heat up.
- Insulate any exposed hot water pipes.
- Consider reusing towels when staying at hotels.
- Only wash full loads of laundry
- Water your plants in the early morning to avoid evaporating it
Participate in a Community Cleanup
Get with your neighbors, co-workers, and friends to initiate a community cleanup project. If you need help getting people together, speak with your local community leaders and see if they can assemble volunteers to help you. It's likely that someone else has already started to setup a cleanup event. If so, you can join them in their cleaning adventures. During the event, help each other gather all of the litter, trash, and old mattresses that line the streets and alleys of your neighborhood. Be sure to recycle the items that you can (you could even earn some money doing this). Perhaps there are some parks in your region that are in need of some clean up as well. Clean recreation areas will serve to raise the value of the community while also protecting nature.
Composting is a great way to recycle most of the organic waste that your family produces. This process will turn old banana peels and rotten tomatoes into a nutrient rich superfood for your garden or landscaping plants. Compost also serves to help the environment because it A) reduces waste that would otherwise go to a landfill, and B) reduces the use of artificial fertilizers that you would otherwise need for your plants.
Start your compost pile by selecting an adequate location to house the material. There are a variety of containers that exist for this application. It is said that the rotating drum containers provide the best (and easiest) means for creating good compost.
Do Not Compost
- Dairy Products
- Inked or chemically bleached paper
- Ashes from your BBQ
The next thing you will want to do is to gather some key ingredients to start the composting process. Left over fruits & vegetables, grass clippings, and leaves are ideal items to include in the pile. Ensure that the container has plenty of moisture and air to allow the microorganisms to do their job. Turning the pile (or rotating the drum) daily and adding water will help the process move along.
Composting is an art as well as science. Entire books have been written on the subject. With a little patience, and some knowledge from the internet, you can create your own free compost.
Bonus Tip: Start Buying Used Goods
Buying used items is a great way to help the Earth and your wallet all at the same time. There are many second hand stores around the country that are stuffed with things that you probably want/need to buy right now. Buying used goods prevents many still usable items from entering a landfill prematurely. It also helps to reduce our reliance on newly mined raw materials. So the next time you need a new picture frame, Halloween costume, or even a computer monitor, why not check out your local second hand store first?