Earth Day to environmentalists is like Christmas to a toddler.
I can’t sit still, I lost sleep last night thinking about my goals for this upcoming year, and I get so darn pumped about all the little things we can do to make this World a better place!
I’m so EXCITED about Earth Day!
Do you happen to know what Earth Day represents or means?
Earth Day is a celebration of the environmental movement that started in the 1970’s. During the 60’s and 70’s gas guzzling V8 engines and polluting smoke stacks on industrial buildings reined supreme.
“Although mainstream America largely remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.
Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.” –www.earthday.org
The concept of Earth Day was created by founder Gaylord Nelson in 1969.
“Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.”
Then on April 22nd, 1970, millions of people joined together and marched. They gave demonstrations and raised awareness about environmental issues.
“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.”
There is a lot more history and back story to Earth Day, but what I would really like to focus on here is how
can make a difference this year and hopefully for the rest of your life.
1) Use Your Car Less
-Vehicles are one of our main sources of pollution today. With the average US household having 2 vehicles (1.9 to be exact), and 124.6 million households in the United States, that’s a lot of pollution potential. Instead:
-Use public transportation
-Combine multiple trips into 1.
2) Use Less Water
-We’ve all heard this one, right? Water shortages and droughts are a constant issue on the news today. We hear about water pollution and aquifers drying up. It is a sad day when I hear about ground water being polluted by agricultural and industrial waste. It absolutely breaks my heart. One of the LEADING sources of wasted water is in agricultural practices. Globally, the agricultural sector consumes about 70% of the planet’s accessible freshwater. That’s more than TWICE that of industry (23%), and dwarfing household use (8%). Did you know that beef has an overall water footprint of roughly FOUR MILLION gallons per ton produced. By contrast, the water footprint for “sugar crops” like sugar beets is about 52,000 gallons per ton; for vegetables it’s 85,000 gallons per ton; and for starchy roots it’s about 102,200 gallons per ton. (For more information please see this link).
That is A WHOLE LOT of water for an unnecessary item in our diet.
Leaky irrigation systems, planting crops that normally do not grow in a certain climate, and over watering also leads to dramatic numbers on water waste in the agriculture sector.
It seems daunting, but a MAJOR overhaul is needed in the agricultural sector before we start seeing changes happen. There is a huge deficit on awareness, regulations, and funding in the area of agricultural water waste.
Although it might seem like you can not make a difference, you can!
Household water use still makes up for 8% of water wasted, and if you start raising awareness in your surrounding areas, you might drop that number down to 2 or 3%, and save your communities rivers and streams. Here are some ways to help:
-Consume less meat.
-Don’t irrigate your lawns.
-Collect rain water to water plants and gardens.
-Install drip irrigation systems instead of overhead watering everything.
-Take fewer and shorter showers.
-Turn off the faucets when you’re brushing your teeth.
-Fill your sink only half way with water while washing dishes. Turn the faucet off while washing and rinse dishes all at once.
-Dishwashers (newer) use less water than washing dishes by hand.
-Use a refillable water bottle for your daily consumption.
-Wash clothes in cool water.
-Use and install a WaterSense shower head.
-FIX THOSE LEAKS.
-Adjust your lawn mower to the height of 3.5 to 4 inches. Taller grass shades roots and holds soil moisture better than short grass.
There is also a ridiculously long list on this website if you want to check it out!! It’s pretty great!
3) Plant SOMETHING: Be Outside
What a great way to spend and celebrate Earth Day! Actually get out in your yard and planting something! Trees and native plants have a great impact on our environment and help keep our local ecosystems stable. Have a place where erosion is a problem? Find plants for your area that have deep webbing roots that will prevent erosion. Hate mowing your lawn? Plant ground covers suitable for your climate and never mow again!
4) Set Up a Compost Bin
I’ve heard this before, “Well food and paper bio-degrade in the garbage, so why should I be so worried about putting in my trash?”
For starters, yes, most food and paper products will biodegrade over time. But, you’re sill putting it in your garbage, which is still going to be dumped in a landfill somewhere and take up space. You can save money on your garbage by composting food and paper waste instead of filling up your cans with it. Composting also lowers the amount of warming gases created by organic material in our landfills. The EPA estimates that landfills are the single biggest emitters of toxic methane gases. If everyone composted, methane levels on our planet could be reduced drastically!
Compost turns garbage into gold! Even if you don’t have a garden, compost is insanely easy to produce, and you can put it on anything. Houseplants, yards, flower beds, trees, or give it away!
5) Recycle and Use Earth Friendly Products
Did you know that a plastic water bottle can take 450 years to decompose in the landfill? Disposable pads and baby diapers? A whopping 500-800 years!!!!
Although recycling isn’t the answer to all of our waste problems, it does help. I recycle, but I also go the extra mile to not even USE products that can’t be re-used. (Plastic and Styrofoam are what I stay away from mostly).
Here are some examples of how long something takes to decompose:
Cigarette Butts – 10-12 years
Monofilament Fishing Line – 600 years
Rubber-Boot Sole – 50-80 years
Foamed Plastic Cups – 50 years
Leather shoes – 25-40 years
Milk Cartons – 5 years
Plywood – 1-3 years
Painted board – 13 years
Cotton Glove – 3 months
Cardboard – 2 months
Styrofoam- It does not biodegrade
Nylon Fabric- 30-40 years
Tin can- 50 years
Ropes – 3-14 months
Waxed milk carton- 3 months
Aluminum cans- 200-250 years
Train tickets – two weeks
Canvas products – 1 year
Batteries – 100 years
Lumber- 10-15 years
Sanitary Pads – 500-800 years
Wool Clothing- 1-5 years
Tinfoil- It does not biodegrade
So how can you help?
-Always choose paper over plastic at the store, or better yet, don’t get a bag at all. OR purchase re-usable grocery bags. (I’ve had the same 8 bags for close to 4 years now)
-Buy products with little or no packaging
-Make your own products
-Use rags instead of paper towels to clean
-Avoid individually wrapped snacks and products
-Stop that junk mail
6) Stop Littering
I really hope that the people reading this will be mature individuals, who are already aware of how detrimental littering is.
The crazy thing is, some people litter and they don’t even know they’re doing it.
Cigarette Butts are the NUMBER ONE littered item in the World. One, why are still smoking? It’s 2016. Two, come on man!
There is a serious problem with cigarette butts, from bio-accumulation of poisons up the food chain to damage to commercial fisheries and water supplies. A recent study showed that cigarette waste easily meets standardized tests for city and state agencies to label a substance as toxic waste. This hazardous material persists in the environment for some time and is often ingested by aquatic creatures, wildlife, and pets, not to mention small children, who suffer serious health problems as a result. Cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate, a plastic that can break into smaller pieces, but will never biodegrade or disappear.
(I’m sorry if it seems like I’m being judgmental here…my husband smoked for 17 years before quitting, but I just can’t stress enough how toxic they are to the environment. Not to mention the UNTOLD and horrible effects they have on the body)
Here’s a nice picture to help you out on this one:
-Keep a garbage bag in your car
-Stop smoking. Like, yesterday. You can’t throw the butts away or recycle them. They’re literally just 100% waste and garbage.
7) God Calls Us to be Good Stewards of the Earth
I will freely admit that I am a tree hugger. I love plants and the soil about as much as I love ice cream. I also feel that God has placed a HUGE calling on my life, and all of our lives, to be good stewards of this Earth. The Bible says that God expects, even demands, that we be stewards of His creation. God created the different species of plants and animals, blessed them, protected them and made a covenant with them, and we have a responsibility to live according to what God says.
Here are some verses to help cement what I’m saying:
I highly suggest starting on one area that you would like to change this year.
For me, I simply started recycling…then it turned into buying an indoor worm composter for food and paper scraps, which turned into me using re-usable shopping bags, then using hardly any plastic at all, which led me to reduce our families water use. And now I’m just a full blown crazy environmentalist who loves plants and the Earth!!
You can make a difference.
You can change your community.
You can change your family.
Have any other suggestions for how to celebrate Earth Day and helping our Earth be a better place?
Comment below or email me!