Celebrate Earth Day… and Change the Way You Live

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd, and while most of us in our industry are focused on how we celebrate and message the day to our customers, it’s also very worthwhile to contemplate how we personally choose to acknowledge the day. In case you’ve been too busy to think along these lines, here are a few recommendations. Keep in mind that it’s a perfect time to reflect upon what you are doing in order to help protect our environment:


- Plant Trees: As the date also roughly coincides with U.S. Arbor Day, over time Earth Day has become synonymous with tree-planting. Planting trees helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cleans up pollution, secures soil in place to prevent erosion, and provides home for a lot of biodiversity. If planting a tree seems like too much of a project, plant some flowers or shrubs, or even throw down a few seeds of grass. Everything matters.


- Learn More About the Environment: Earth Day is a great time to make a commitment to learn more about the environment and how you can help protect it. Read up on issues such as pollution, endangered species, water shortages, recycling, and climate change. Or, learn about a region you’ve never considered before, like the Arctic, the deserts, or the rainforests. Think about the issues that concern you the most and if you haven’t done so already, join a local group that undertakes activities to help protect the environment in your area.


- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… All Day Long: Buy as little as possible and avoid items that come in lots of packaging. Support local growers and producers of food and products. Take your drink container with you, and don’t use any disposable plates or cutlery. Recycle all the things you do use during the day or find other uses for things that you no longer use. Carry a cloth bag for carrying things and recycle your plastic bags.


- Clean up Litter from our Roadways: Many groups use the Earth Day weekend to clear roadways, highways and neighborhood streets of litter that has accumulated since the last cleanup day. Many companies donate gloves and bags for cleanup groups and cities will organize bag pick-ups. It’s a wonderful community project.


- Ride Your Bike or Use Public Transportation: Use your bicycle or another form of human powered transportation to commute to work, run errands, or for play. If you don’t have a bike, at least give your automobile a rest for the day, and use some form of public transportation.


- Cook a Special Earth Day Meal: Plan a menu that uses locally produced foods, is healthy, and has minimal impact on the environment. Cook with as much organic food as possible.


- Set up a Compost Bin: So much of the stuff that we throw away can actually be composted instead of trashed. Set up a composting system — basically a bin in your kitchen where you put compostable waste, and a bin in your yard where it can decay — all of that rich fertilizer is free!


- Update Your Light Bulbs: Now that incandescent light bulbs have been phased out, make sure that all your bulbs are either Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), or light emitting diodes (LEDs). These choices use about 25 to 80 percent less energy and last three to 25 times longer than the typical incandescent bulb. An incandescent bulb will emit 60 watts of energy compared to 15 watts for CFL’s and 12.5 watts for LED’s. The projected lifespan for an incandescent bulb is 1,200 hours, while a CFL is 10,000 hours and an LED bulb is an amazing 50,000 hours.


- Pay Your Bills Online: Lots of people have started paying credit card bills and viewing statements online instead of receiving them through the mail. It’s faster than writing checks, and you don’t have to file away all that paper. And if everybody in the United States started paying bills and banking online, it would save almost 19 million trees every year.


- Skip a Shower or Bath: This may be a tough one for some, but if you consider the water shortages all around the world, the amount of water we use to keep ourselves squeaky clean can seem a bit shocking. A daily shower isn’t a matter of health; it’s a matter of comfort. And for the comfort of a 10-minute shower, we consume up to 50 gallons (189 liters) of water (according to the EPA). To relax in a nice bath takes up to 70 gallons (264 liters). A typical family in Africa gets by on a tenth of that for an entire day, including drinking water. So on Earth Day, Stay dirty. In addition to saving up to 70 gallons of water for the people who really need it, you may even find it makes you look and feel healthier: showering every day can wash away the natural oils that our skin and hair need to glow and can deprive the immune system of the germs it needs to fully develop.


These are just a few things you can do to celebrate and embrace Earth Day, and perhaps these changes will endure as part of your daily lifestyle. There are many more that I’m sure you have thought of and I hope you will embrace moving forward.


Another recommendation is to watch the BBC Special entitled “Planet Earth”. You can purchase it online – just engage Google and I’m sure you’ll find many options. You can also watch portions of the video on both the BBC and Discovery Channel websites. “Planet Earth,” is a nature series produced by the BBC that spans a five-year global odyssey around the world highlighting stunning and even miraculous imagery of our planet. It has the power to reconnect you with the beauty and glory that we share with nature and all of her inhabitants.


Have a wonderful Earth Day Celebration, and remember – if we all do the little things… they become big things. As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.