I don’t discuss my political and social viewpoints very often but I think it’s fitting on this day to perhaps give you a glimpse of at least a few of those ideals I hold. Today is Earth Day.
The first Earth Day was held April 22nd 1970 and was the brainchild of a US Senator from Wisconsin – Gaylord Nelson. From the earthday.net website –
Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, proposed the first nationwide environmental protest “to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda. ” “It was a gamble,” he recalls, “but it worked.”
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. Environment was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.
Earth Day 1970 turned that all around.
On April 22, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Denis Hayes, the national coordinator, and his youthful staff organized massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
While I was researching information to write this post today, I came across a lot of “stuff” that just doesn’t really do justice to the ideals that Earth Day is supposed to promote. In fact, the Earth Day Network website was sorely lacking in real, usable tools at first glance. The best information I found, actually, was Friday on Oprah where the guests shared about Green Living and ways we can help support the Earth and our environment.
Now, green living is something I’ve been doing much of my life. My mother was a young adult in the latter 60’s and early 70’s and I guess you could call her a hippie although she never did do drugs or live that particular lifestyle. She did, however, instill in me a deep love for our environment and healthy, green living.
Here are some ways that my family practices Living Green –
- Recycle. We must realize that garbage just doesn’t just “go away” – it actually goes SOMEWHERE. And that somewhere is a landfill or a dump that is likely many acres. Think of it as a huge trash can out on the outskirts of town. Visualize it. Check with your local waste management as to what is recyclable in your area. Some areas are more progressive than others and offer much more services. Recycle everything you possibly can!
- Turn off appliances when not in use. Now, this is really common sense but many people don’t realize that their small appliances and other electronics equipment don’t totally shut off when the not in use. If they are plugged in, they can still draw up to 20% of their power! If you have gadgets that go into “standby” mode (such as DVD players, computers, and the like) when you turn the power off, they’re really not off. Plug them into a circuit breaker-type power strip and shut the whole strip off.
- Use fabric napkins. Did you know the average person uses 6 or more napkins per day? Did you also know that you can save over a million trees per year if you cut down by using just one less per day? Better yet, use fabric napkins and hand towels at home and only use paper napkins when absolutely necessary.
- Use non-toxic and environmentally safe cleaners and detergents. There are several companies out there who produce solutions to harsh chemicals. Not only are these products safer for the environment, they are safer for our families AND they are safer to produce and manufacture. Some companies/products worth using – Seventh Generation, Shaklee and Mrs. Meyer’s Cleaning Supplies.
- Use reusable canvas bags for your shopping needs. Did you know that it takes a plastic grocery bag 100 YEARS to break down? Even brown paper bags take years. Consider using reusable eco-friendly canvas “book” bags and totes. Oprah has designed one that she sells at cost on her website. You can also check out EcoBags. They offer several varieties of eco-friendly canvas bags and mesh bags. I have one mesh bag that holds about 10 pounds of produce and a couple of canvas bags that each hold 3-4 plastic bags worth of groceries.
- Use Organic produce. If possible, grow some of your own. If that’s not possible, buy organic produce and other items. Not only are they healthier for YOU as they don’t contain pesticides but because they don’t use pesticides, they are less costly for the growers to grow and are less damaging to the environment. Consider growing at least some of your favorite fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to have a big garden – small containers work well and you can use them nearly anywhere – even on your patio or in a window box. Some of our favorites are tomatoes, herbs, corn, carrots, green beans, sugar snap peas and potatoes. We do have a large yard so we also have apple and plum trees.
- Be conscientious of the packaging of those products you buy. Don’t buy products that waste or that have excessive amounts of packaging. Also try not to buy products that use environmentally unsafe packaging like Styrofoam, which again, takes hundreds of years to break down.
- Use foil rather than plastic wrap. Aluminum foil is reusable, washable and recyclable – if you’re careful with it. Also use plastic containers that can be reused and are recyclable at the end of their usability.
- Drink coffee? Buy a travel mug and take that with you to your morning latte stop rather than using one of their paper cups. It’s not only reusable, of course, but many coffee shops and even restaurants will give you a small discount for using your own cup! Many espresso stands even sell these mugs with their logo or other pictures on them.
There are MANY things you can do to help preserve our planet and create a healthier environment for future generations. Start small if you find it too overwhelming but at least, START. You’ll be helping Mother Earth as well as yourself live better.
Blessings and Happy Earth Day!