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Earth Day Activities and Beyond: How to Help the Earth
Why Do We Need To Help The Earth?
The earth is facing increasing pressures from a burgeoning human population. As well, an increasing consumer society especially in developed countries means more pressure on precious resources that dwindle at an alarming rate. Thus, Earth Day activities, as well as activities to help the earth beyond Earth Day should be a priority. A number of key issues threaten the stability of our earth ecosystem:
1. Depletion of the world's forests and especially rain forests are having a dramatic effect on our earth.Photosynthesis in trees has a dramatic impact on:
- global warming,
- control of severe wind speeds and the
- distribution of water worldwide through the global water cycle.
2. Global warming is being accelerated due to extreme fossil fuel consumption for a number of reasons:
- increased transportation due to urban sprawl,
- consumerism and over use of product packaging,
- inefficient heating and cooling systems.
3. Stripping of the earth's natural resources and the resulting pollution and stress on the earth's natural systems.
4. Dumping of wastes into the ground and ocean.
Things We Can Do To Help The Earth On Earth Day And Every Day
There are a number of key areas in our personal and work lives where we and our children can make a difference. The pressures on the earth can at least be slowed if not reversed by individual action. It takes example-setting and education to make change. But, it all starts with the action of individuals that eventually spill over until a new trend develops. From there, hopefully, comes new government policy and worldwide change of mindset. Look at the lists below and see where you can make a difference!
Helping The Environment At The Market
- Utilize reusable bags when purchasing groceries or making other purchases.
- Buy items with minimal packaging when you can.
- Avoid using throwaway cameras, flashlights and shaving razors.
- Buy in bulk when and if you can.
- Buy used goods from yard sales, second hand stores.
- Avoid Styrofoam and plastic and disposable plates, utensils and cups.
Helping The Earth At Home
- Get off junk mail lists and sign up for paperless bills when you can.
- Recycle used motor oil.
- Compost food waste and yard debris and reduce impact on your local landfill.
- Mend and repair household items when possible.
- Participate in your local recycling program and reduce pressure on landfills.
- Use rags instead of paper towels by recycling old socks and towels.
- Where possible use biodegradable soaps and detergents.
- Use cleaning products such as vinegar and baking soda which are non-toxic.
- Use rechargeable batteries.
- Properly dispose of household hazardous waste or appliances/electronics containing hazardous materials.
Home Energy Use
- Wash clothes in cold water when you can.
- Monitor your energy consumption.
- Clean air filters so your heating system works more efficiently.
- Use a programmable thermostat so that your house temperature is set lower when everyone is at work and school and also at night when everyone is sleeping.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Unplug appliances when they are not in use.
- Properly insulate, calk and weatherstrip your home.
- Replace single-paned windows with double-paned windows.
- Wear warmer clothing instead of raising the house temperature.
- Use energy-efficient appliances.
- When it is feasible, use fluorescent rather than incandescent bulbs.
- Hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.
- Plant deciduous trees in a sunny spot to shade your house in summer and yet encourage heating of the home in winter in temperate climates.
- When using your dryer, keep the lint screen clean as well as the outside exhaust.
- Install a solar water heater if feasible for your geographic area.
- As much as possible eat lower on the food chain such as a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, grains and free range poultry and beef.
- Buy organic food where possible to reduce exposure and dependency on pesticides.
- Grow your own food when and if possible.
- Support your local food co-ops and farmers' markets.
- Prepare food amounts based on family consumption and if there are leftovers use them as work or school lunches or in creative dishes for later in the week.
- Monitor car and gasoline usage.
- If possible, leave your car at home and walk or ride your bike to work.
- Combine errands together for longer single trips into town instead of several smaller ones.
- Keep your tires inflated properly so you maintain good fuel economy.
- Drive slower and smarter by using cruise control to maintain a consistent speed and drive 60 mph instead of 70 mph which can save up to 4 miles per gallon in fuel costs.
- Choose products with little or no paper packaging.
- Recycle paper - reuse envelopes for writing notes, create a GOOS (good on one side) box and reuse the other side of papers when possible.
- Plant trees in your yard or neighborhood - take part in or organize a community replanting program.
- Avoid buying products made from tropical hardwoods.
- Monitor how you use water.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Fix a leaky toilet or tap.
- Drink tap water instead of bottled water.
- Install a water-saving shower head.
- Install low flow toilets or a space occupier in existing toilets.
- Wash your car with a bucket of water rather than a continually running hose.
- Water plants and the lawn either in the early morning or late afternoon to minimize evaporation.
- Plant perennials when possible which tend to be more drought resistant than annual plants.
Activism: It Is Not Just An Earth Day Activity
- Get educated on environmental issues by reading or talking to your kids who often learn of these issues in class.
- When possible, purchase from companies which have environment conscious accreditation.
- Learn about and enjoy the natural areas in your community.
- Get involved in local community projects such as stream rejuvenation, trash clean-up or forest revitalization projects.
- Participate in your local government especially regarding environmental policy decisions.
- Model green practices in your own life for your children, family and neighbors. It may create a cascade effect!