Today is Earth Day. Being that our planet houses us and allows us to live it seems like every day should be Earth Day, doesn’t it? Not too long ago, I was reading the cover of the Book Review section of the New York Times. The title article was called ‘Without a Trace’ and it was reviewing a book called ‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History’ by Elizabeth Kolbert. Kolbert’s book discusses the alarming rate at which climate change is affecting our planet. Of Kolbert’s book, The New York Times article says, “In lucid prose, she examines the role of man-made climate change in causing what biologists call the sixth mass extinction — the current spasm of plant and animal loss that threatens to eliminate 20 to 50 percent of all living species on earth within this century.” Yes, you read that correctly…20 to 50 percent of ALL LIVING SPECIES on this earth are threatened with extinction BY THE END OF THIS CENTURY!!! If you are currently saying, “Holy Crap!”, then you are not alone…I said as much myself. You can read the Times article here.
In a state of anxiety, I spent days thinking about this and trying to figure out what I, as one person, could do in the face of such an overwhelming situation. I thought to myself, “Yes, I can make a greater effort to go greener. Yes, I can do research on the matter to better inform myself of ways that my actions can help to make a greater impact.” Then I thought, “YES! I have the ability to spread the word to my readers…who in turn have the ability to spread the word to their networks.” While it may not be a lot, if everyone who takes the ten minutes to read this article makes even a few small changes and shares them with even a few people, it can only help.
I have compiled a list of simple things that we can all do to play our role in saving the planet for ourselves, for our children, and for the numerous wonderful creatures who share our planet with us (all of whom play a vital role in the delicate balance of our ecosystem). This list is compiled from practices many of us already incorporate, common sense and a bit of research on my part; some of the suggestions are obvious, some you may not have thought about yet:
GENERAL BEST PRACTICES:
- Recycle, Recycle, Recycle…it seems like a no-brainer, but stop and think about how often we really recycle everything that we can. If you are out and there is no recycling bin available, do you bring your waste home to recycle or do you just throw it out?
- Purchase Reusable Bags…then don’t forget them in your car while you shop! I am the QUEEN of having a car full of reusable bags and realizing this fact only after standing in the line at the store. One of my clients recently told me that in Russia (where she is from) they do not even offer bags in the grocery store…you must bring your own. Hmmm…good idea!
- Go Paperless…pay your bills on-line and you will save trees, protect our oxygen supply (trees and plants breathe in CO2 and breathe out O2), and save money on stamps.
- Buy a Reusable Water Bottle…and then use it! Make sure that it is BPA-free.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT:
- Buy Organic/Local Whenever You Can…purchasing organically helps the environment by supporting those who respect our earth by avoiding the use of pesticides and other chemicals in their produce, livestock and goods; it also sends a message to companies not using these methods that you would prefer not to support their methods. Buying locally produced foods and items helps to support your local economy. It also helps to reduce your “carbon footprint”…for example, how much gas/jet fuel was used to transport your goods 20 miles vs. 2,000 miles?
- Try Going Vegetarian (at least part-time)…all animals (that includes us) breathe in O2 and breathe out CO2. When we are breeding excessively for the purpose of the food supply chain, we are messing with nature and are largely increasing the amounts of CO2 going into our atmosphere. If you don’t want to go completely vegetarian, try replacing one or two meals a week with vegetarian fare…your wallet, your health, and the planet will thank you!
- Fill Your Home with Plants (the real kind, not the silk ones)…plants produce O2, so if you want to filter the air in your home and breathe cleaner then you want to fill your home with beautiful green plants!
- Avoid Using Disposable Items When You Have Other Alternatives…try to put your dishes, silverware, glasses and cloth napkins to use. Avoid using disposable items such as paper plates and plastic ware whenever possible.
- Switch to Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs…they last far longer than traditional lightbulbs which makes them more “budget-friendly”. Additionally, they use 60% less energy than traditional bulbs. This simple switch can prevent up to 300 lbs. of CO2 (carbon dioxide) from being released into the atmosphere each year. In fact, if every household in the U.S. made this simple change, we could eliminate up to 90 BILLION pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually!
- Choose Green Household Cleaning Products…for just a few extra dollars, you can help to protect the earth by using cleaning products which are safer for the planet and your family. Incidentally, we now use only green cleaning products at Balance Day Spa.
- Use Energy Star Appliances…when you need to replace an appliance in your home, look for those that have the Energy Star label. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency.” Energy Star appliances’ efficiency makes them great for your wallet too!
- Follow the Rule of Two…by keeping your home just 2 degrees warmer in the summer and two degrees cooler in the winter, you can save money and prevent 2,000 lbs. of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually!
- Insulate Your Home…thinking about a home re-modeling project? Did you know that by better insulating your home, you can reduce your heating bill by 25% and prevent 2,000 lbs. of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually!?!
- It’s Time for a Filter Change…periodically changing the filters on your furnace and air conditioning units can help to prevent 350 lbs. of CO2 being released in to the atmosphere annually.
- TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!…your parents probably yelled at you about this one many times when you were young…it turns out that they were right. You will save energy and money by turning off lights and other electrical appliances when they are not in use.
- Teach your children respect for the Earth and all its living things. Lead by example.
- Send your children’s school lunch in a reusable lunch bag; include a reusable water bottle and reusable food storage containers (avoid using plastic bags).
- Use “green” activities for family bonding time. Go for a hike/bike ride. Plant a vegetable garden. Cook/Bake together. Plan an “unplugged” night where you play board games. Go camping. Brainstorm “green” activities with your children…let their imaginations run wild!
- Plan a school/community fundraiser to support a worthy green cause! Get the kids involved!
- Switch to cloth diapers. Okay, so this is a really, really tough one. I realize that this seems crazy, but just think about how many diapers your children have gone through and then multiply that number by the countless children in the world who are also using disposable diapers!
- Use the “hand-me-down” system. Never throw away a properly functioning and safe: high-chair, stroller, crib, walker, etc.. Pass them along to a friend, a relative or else donate your items to a charity. Additionally, any toy that can be washed and sanitized can be enjoyed by another child. Pass along baby clothes too!
- Assign your children simple “green responsibilities”. Water the houseplants. Separate the paper and plastic recyclables. Wash the reusable water bottles. Help to weed the garden.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS:
- Plant a Flower Garden…not only will planting a flower garden beautify your home and add to you overall “curb appeal” (which can help to increase your home-selling potential) but it will also attract bees. If you think that this is a bad thing, think again. Bees are responsible for the cross-pollination of plants. Without them, our plant life begins to die, which compromises our O2 supply. Unfortunately, bees survival is currently becoming threatened. In plain English, if we lose the bees, then we are all in deep crap.
- Plant a Tree…trees are beautiful. Trees grace us with beauty, shade and so much more! One tree can absorb up to 48 lbs of CO2 annually…a mature tree can absorb up to a TON of CO2 in 40 years! One large tree can provide enough O2 for four people each day! Additionally, because of their root system, trees help to prevent soil erosion. Happy planting!
ON THE GO:
- Get Smart About Your Transportation…want to help save the planet? Starting a carpool, using mass transit, or even better yet biking will help to make a HUGE impact on the environment!
- Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated…believe it or not, when you maintain the appropriate tire pressure (which can usually be found on the inside of your driver’s side door frame or else in your owner’s manual) you will improve your car’s gas mileage by up to 3%. This will prevent up to 20 lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere for every gallon of gas that you save! This is good news for the earth and your wallet!
- Maintain Your Car…According to RainforestMaker, “If only 1% of automobile owners regularly maintained their car, they would prevent approximately one billion pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.”
- Buying a new car? Look for a fuel efficient vehicle with an Ultra-Low Emissions rating. Better yet consider purchasing a hybrid or an electric car.
GOING A STEP FARTHER:
- Clear Your Life of “Junk” Mail…tired of getting a bunch of junk in the mail that you do not use? You can save trees and energy by stopping your junk mail. The paper required to print junk mail uses over 100 million trees per year (that is our O2 supply people)! For tips on how to stop your junk mail, visit 41 Pounds.
- Support Companies That Take a Green Initiative…let companies that behave in an environmentally respectful manner know that you appreciate it!
- The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword…contact your elected officials and tell them that the time for environmental action is NOW!
THE BOTTOM LINE…
Let’s face it…if the current rate of climate-change continues our children and grandchildren may not have much hope for a future. We have the power to plant a seed by our actions. Our children have the power to make that seed grow through the lives they lead. We must not delay. Lead by example…start (or continue) today!
Now let’s all get out there and spread the word! Please SHARE this article! THANK YOU!!! 🙂
(Thank you so much for taking the time to read this important article. We each have a responsibility to play our role in preserving the planet. Today at Balance Day Spa, I am donating 15% of my overall revenue, for the day, to the World Wildlife Fund for their species conservation efforts. Additionally, the spa is using only green cleaning products; our menu is on-line and therefore is paperless. And, of course, we recycle. We will continue to develop greener practices wherever possible! xoxo, Allison)