Today is Earth Day. It is a day recognized worldwide to bring awareness and support for protection of the environment. Earth Day brings attention to a large number of issues that need to be addressed, such as pollution of the ocean, debris left over on land, climate change, conservation of the Earth’s ecosystems, energy conservation, soil corruption, corrosion, overpopulation, nuclear issues, the depletion of the ozone layer, the depletion of the earth’s natural resources, the introduction of wastes and toxicants into the wilderness and the seas, nanotechnology, deforestation of rain forests, and the endangerment of many species.
This seems like a lot, and it is – but don’t be discouraged. Every little bit helps protect our earth.
Here are 9 simple things that most anybody can do.
1. Eliminate single use plastics. It may only seem like one bottle of water when you are reaching for something to drink. But that plastic bottle will most likely end up in a landfill or waterway instead of being recycled. Invest in a filtered water system and a good insulated reusable water bottle and get in the habit of carrying it with you. Read this post about other single-use plastics and what you can do instead.
2. Use public transit, carpool or ride your bike. If you are one of millions of people who drive to work every day, take a look around to see how many other people are in their cars alone. Taking public transit instead of driving can reduce your annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 30%. If you’re reluctant to give up the comfort and convenience of your car, start by taking transit one or two days a week. Keep in mind that taking public transit offers personal benefits as well, such as cost savings. Instead of getting stressed over traffic, you can read a book, knit, or catch up on email.
3. Make the switch. If you leave a room, turn off the light. Some people believe that it takes more energy to turn lights on and off than to leave them burning, but that’s not true for incandescent lighting. To make a bigger environmental impact, switch to compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) lighting. CFL bulbs last 6 to 15 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. LED bulbs last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 80% less energy.
4. Bring your own bags and containers. It’s estimated that 1 million birds, turtles, and other ocean animals die each year after ingesting plastic bags. Plastic bags make up 10% of the debris that washes up along the US coastlines. And the petroleum used to make just 14 plastic bags can propel a car for one mile. Many stores will recycle used plastic bags. Invest in reusable bags or totes for grocery store shopping and bring your own containers for bulk items that you may buy.
5. Cut back on meat. Greenhouse gases contribute to climate change. Raising livestock takes up 30% of the land surface of the entire planet. It also produces 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It’s been estimated that the standard US diet requires 4,200 US gallons of water a day to sustain livestock production (to irrigate crops for feed, provide drinking water for animals, etc.). A vegan diet requires only 300 US gallons of water a day. Even going meatless 2 days a week can have a positive impact on the environment.
6. Eat more veggies. Besides the environmental benefits of eating less meat, eating more veggies provides health benefits too. Some people opt for a vegan diet while others choose from a variety of vegetarian diets. But overall, a plant-based diet helps protect against cardiovascular disease, lowers blood pressure, and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Many people start with Meatless Monday. Check out our healthy recipes for many vegetarian and vegan options.
7. Buy local. Farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture programs, and roadside farm stands are ways to support the local economy and ensure the food you buy is fresh. Fresh-picked produce retains the nutrients that can be lost by shipping and simply tastes better.
8. Collect rainwater. This one may be more difficult for those that live in apartments, but if you have property this idea is a good one. During the hot summers, many areas of the US were affected by water shortages. We came to appreciate how much we depend on water to keep our lawns and gardens green and healthy. The rain that collects in roof gutters can be channeled through downspouts into a rain barrel or other storage device. Rain water can be used to water plants, wash your car or pet, refill a fountain or fish pond, and clean sidewalks and driveways. One inch of rainfall per 100 square feet of collection surface will yield 235 liters of water.
9. Protect our species. This year’s campaign is focused on protecting endangered species from coral reefs to giraffes. Bees are one of these endangered species. They are known as a keystone species, which means other species (including us humans!) are dependent on them to survive. Many species of animals depend on bees for their survival because their food sources, including nuts, berries, seeds, and fruits, rely on insect pollination. Protect our honey bees by planting bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in your garden and yard. Leave dandelions and clover alone. They provide food for bees. And, please don’t use chemicals and pesticides to treat your lawn or garden.
At Village Green, we do our best to support Earth Day every day. We are proud to have been recently recertified with a Gold certification from Green America and have also met the requirements for the Montgomery County Green Business Program. The Gold certification means that we exceed the already rigorous standards set by Green America. This includes assurance that we are environmentally responsible in the way we source our products and run our operations and facilities.