Today is the 40th Earth Day. I know that pretty much every blog in the world will feature a post about Earth Day today, right? And I may have nothing really new to say, depending on how you live. But I just wanted to take a moment to encourage everyone to change one habit this year for Earth Day. Maybe it’s the first time you’ve recycled at all, or you’re switching to CFLs in all your lamps. Maybe you’re taking the bus to work now, or walking instead of driving. Maybe you carpool. Whatever it is, please think about your world and make a change to impact it for the better.
Brian and I are both pretty conservation-minded. Mostly because we were raised that way, by parents who respect the environment and want to leave it better than they found it. Daddy can tell you all about which deer are best to “harvest” each year to increase herd size and strength, and which ones should be allowed to live and breed. My mama used to say “Take only memories and leave only footprints” anytime we ever went to a park or beach. When recycling bins were first available here in the Burg, my parents jumped on board. Brian’s mom sits on the board of the solid waste committee in their town, and has helped make their community recycling center positively enviable (they have a thrift store!). So we both already recycled and conserved as much energy as we could before we even met. But we’ve decided as a couple to have as little a carbon footprint as we can reasonably have, without being militant. Here are a few things we’ve changed in our lives, and would encourage you to do, as well…..
Buy things that have less packaging to begin with. Reward those companies that are trying to do the right thing by purchasing their products over the ones that are shrink-wrapped and then cardboard boxed.
Cut out chemicals in your house! Seek out a phosphate- and sulfate-free laundry detergent. Clean with vinegar (add tea tree oil and lavender essential oil to increase the anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial benefits) and baking soda. I’ve yet to find anything that these two all natural products won’t clean. Stop using bleach – it’s a toxin! Switch to hydrogen peroxide for your bleaching needs.
Do make that switch to CFLs in your lamps. Sure they’re more energy efficient, but I also don’t remember the last time we changed a light bulb!
Turn off those lights, too! How often do you turn on a light simply out of habit, when natural light would do just as well. While you’re at it, unplug anything that’s not in use. You’ll reduce your energy use and save some money at the same time.
Open the windows, too. Cutting off that air conditioner for a while will greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
Buy local for everything possible, and buy produce that is in-season where you live. Less food and merchandise being trucked around the world means less pollution and oil use.
Use reusable anything as often as you can. Ease up on the throw-away packaging for leftover foods, think about switching away from disposable diapers, wipes, and sanitary pads. Do you really need to use five paper towels for that spill, or would one dish towel that you can throw in the wash be just as effective (or more so!)?
So what am I planning on doing for Earth Day 2010, the 40th anniversary? I’m going to cut down on my water usage. I let the faucet run too often, and I tend to run it full-bore when I’m washing my hands or rinsing my toothbrush. I know I shower too long and probably won’t be able to cut that back too much farther, but you can bet I’ll cut down on half-loads of dishes or laundry. So hopefully by next year I’ll be able to say that I’ve used less water than ever before!