Thursday, April 22, 2010

DO SOMETHING: 10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day EVERY Day!

I found this terrific article online (courtesy of Ode Magazine) that I thought it appropriate to share. Enjoy... and have a HAPPY EARTH DAY, EVERYBODY!!

10 ways to make every day an Earth Day

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, April 22nd is known worldwide simply as Earth Day. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the day to inspire year-round eco-awareness & appreciation. In our modern times, his message is still as vital as it was in 1970. Unfortunately, Earth Day’s meaning & depth are often lost on many of our planet’s citizens who see it as just one day to live a more conscious lifestyle, returning to damaging habits for the rest of the year.

Living with the Earth in mind is easier & more affordable than ever! Here are 10 simple, everyday things that have a powerful cumulative impact. The “go big or go home” mentality doesn’t apply here – any action is good action, as long as it’s consistent. Try your hand at integrating these eco-conscious habits into your daily life – you might be surprised by just how much money you save & fun you have.

1. Reduce

Less is more. This “rule” applies to not only living sustainably but just living. Numerous studies have shown that those who focus more on experiences & hobbies than what they buy or consume are exponentially happier. Smile and walk away from that new pair of shoes or MP3 player – try taking a walk, painting a picture, knitting a scarf, practicing yoga, or taking part in any hobby that brings you joy. Our new motto: do more, buy less. Check out the great blog, Mnmlist , for more ideas & advice on living simpler.

2. Reuse

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But what if it is “broke”? Then fix it! You may not see yourself as the DIY type, but thanks to the internet & your local library, there is an ever-growing collection of easy-to-follow guides (like Instructables to fixing or re-purposing just about anything you can get your hands on. Still hesitant? Team up with a friend – that’s what they’re for, isn’t it?

On another note, buying reusable items and, well, reusing them can save hundreds of thousands of tons of trash from ending up in our landfills every year. Even worse, much of said trash is made from non-biodegrable materials (a.k.a. it isn’t going anywhere). Think of the items you use on a daily basis: grocery bags, water bottles, coffee cups, lunch bags, napkins, paper towels – they all have a reusable alternative that can be easily washed and used for years. Consider replacing such frequently used items with stylish & functional alternatives: canvas bags, stainless steel water bottles, travel mugs, lunch totes, cloth napkins, and microfiber cleaning clothes … just to name a few.

3. Recycle

The last of a now-infamous green living trifecta, it is certainly the most popular. What’s easier than throwing your trash in a different bin & waving it goodbye? We’ve all learned by now that there is now “away” – all our trash & recycling ends up somewhere. Surprisingly, only about 28% of the waste in the USA is recycled. If you aren’t recycling, start. If you are recycling, visit Earth911 to find out the long list of items that can be recycled (batteries, printer cartridges, most electronics … etc.), along with where to take them.

4. Buy local

Local food, local businesses, local entertainment – keeping your money close to home benefits the entire community. The reduction of greenhouses gases involved in shipping & the benefit of knowing your shopkeeper face-to-face highly outweigh the slightly higher cost you may pay. Support a small business & help keep someone’s dream alive. Find unique local outlets via LocalHarvest and Etsy’s Shop Local feature.

5. Clean naturally

Water, borax, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice … you don’t need much more to make your house spotless. While it is tempting to just buy the pre-made stuff, you’ll save oodles & have a bigger (safer) impact on your local water system by going homemade. Bonus: you’ll reduce the amount of carcinogens in our air and soil, which is healthier for all plants & animals. Eartheasy has an extensive collection of easy recipes for at-home cleaners, no matter your task, or buy a kit from Eco-Me.

6. Update your showerhead

Everyone from major chain stores to local hardware outlets sell low-flow showerheads; they’re easy to find, affordable and a cinch to install. Bonus: using a low-flow showerhead can reduce your water bill by up to 50% - yeah, that’s half! Your skin and hair will still be completely clean & you will barely notice a reduction in water pressure.

7. Eat meat-free once a week

The concept is simple – one day a week, don’t eat any meat or fish. Pretty straightforward, no? Before you rebuff, saying it is just “impossible” for you to do, how would you know if you’ve never tried? The Meat Free Monday campaign has become a worldwide phenomenon, with many celebrity supporters and unique recipes. Simply eating less meat means better health for you and the planet, thanks to a reduction in pollution from animal farms.

8. Buy organic … sometimes

Contrary to the still widely-held belief, you don’t have to buy 100% organic. That would be very expensive and, more importantly, not worth it. The Environmental Working Group offers a guide to the fruits & vegetables you should always buy organic (due to their high pesticide content in traditional farming), and those that absorb or require little to no chemical assistance for growth. Print a copy of the Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 lists for yourself. Buying at a farmers’ market? Just ask them how they raise their crops – many are more than happy to answer any questions you have.

Note: For animal products, like cheese, milk, or meat, buy local and/or organic as much as possible. High levels of hormones are common in all traditionally-raised versions.

9. Use your feet

Less driving is always positive, even if you have a hybrid. Some errands and locations as easier to get to if you drive, but, when the choice is available, leave the car at home and walk, jog, run, or bicycle around. All you have to loose is your carbon footprint and maybe a few extra pounds (you’ll save money too!).

10. Unplug daily

Many of us are guilty of this eco-sin: leaving electronics plugged in, even when we aren’t using them. Even if they are “off”, many devices still continue to draw power from the grid – called “phantom power”. It accounts for at least 10% of your home’s electricity usage each month & can be easily prevented. Not using that coffee maker or cell phone charger? Just unplug it. For entertainment centers or home offices, connect all your devices to a power strip, which can halt all electricity consumption with a single flick of a switch.

This list is just the beginning of a great, greener lifestyle for you & those around you. Never be afraid to ask questions, do research, & make other sustainable changes. 

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