April 21, 2011

Happy Earth Day 2011

Earth Day is Friday April 22!

How will you show your support to save the Earth?

Think simple. 

If each of us does one small thing to help the environment this Earth Day, the world will be a much better place. Here are a few small ways that you can help make the world a better place to live in—and sustain it for future generations:

Give up bottled water. This is likely no news flash for you, but let's review: According to the Sierra Club, 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to make plastic water bottles every year in the United States. Bottled water has a huge carbon footprint--it's bottled at one location in small plastic bottles that were made at another location and shipped long distances. Many plastic water bottles are recycled, but most are not, making the footprint even bigger. Get yourself a reusable water bottle. Also, a lot of restaurants have made the switch from offering fancy bottled water, usually imported from an exotic source, to using in-house filtration systems that make tap water a good choice. Ask about it next time you dine out.

Practice your yoga in organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo clothing. The production of non-organic cotton is responsible for 25 percent of the United States' insecticide usage. Think of this for all your clothing, bedding, towels etc. And as long as you are shopping, think of buying something that doesn’t take new production…try consignment stores, thrift stores etc.

Exchange your PVC mat for an eco-mat. And make sure you re- use your old mat. Cut it up for shelf lining (especially good for shoes), extra padding on a hard chair, pads under the feet of furniture to save the floor. Glue pieces to the back of wall art to keep marks off your wall. Cut small it makes great re-usable packaging for fragile items. Cut pretty shapes out of it and use it for a bath mat. Be creative…. the possibilities are endless. Check out Bean Products for some great eco-friendly, locally made stuff. www.beanproducts.com

Be Green and Clean. Opt for an eco-friendly cleaning solution made of lemon juice, vinegar, and essential oils—instead of cleaners with harsh chemicals. This can make a difference in the environment and in your health. Use washable plates and glasses for events rather than disposable ones; and use hand towels, which can be washed and reused, rather than paper towels or napkins.

Pay Attention to Packaging. When out shopping, try to go to stores or co-ops that keep packaging to a minimum. For example, buy loose tomatoes rather than boxed or plastic-wrapped tomatoes. Also, avoid items, like cereals and crackers, that include a non-recyclable bag inside of a box, and you'll also avoid more heavily processed food. Take reusable bags to the grocery store, including reusable produce bags, which can save a countless amount of plastic!

Sign up for Green Power Here is probably the quickest and most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon emissions: Enroll in a green power program with your utility company. While the exact electricity mix varies from state to state, based on the average mix in the United States, by choosing green power from your utility you can reduce you carbon emission by some 7 tons per year. And at the same time send a message to your utility that it better start investing in some more wind farms, because more and more people are committed to greening the national power supply. Yes, a few minutes and one phone call can reduce your personal carbon emissions seven times as much as recycling.

Skip the flight.Simply skipping one mid-range flight (say from New York City to St. Louis, Missouri) reduces your emissions as much as one full year of recycling, by about 1970 pounds per flight on that route. If you travel frequently for work, investigate other options such as Amtrak or even video conferencing, and if you have family that live halfway across the country, try to combine smaller trips into one longer one or simply go less frequently.

Unplug it!
 Unplug appliances that you don't use frequently. Most electronics have a standby mode that siphons energy even when not in use. Cell phone chargers, laptops, televisions, stereos--there's a whole list of items that should be unplugged when not in use. Try using a power strip for groups of electronic items. One flick of the switch and it's all off.

Buy organic and local.
 Local food cuts down on miles and miles of traveling to get to your plate. And it's fresher than what's transported across the globe to your mega mart. Supermarket produce is often picked a week before it's ripe, and has to do its final ripening in transport. This also goes for that cup of joe--coffee beans have to travel long distances and go through a complicated production process before they even make it to your local coffee shop. Also, try eating at restaurants that serve locally produced or seasonal foods.

Go Vegetarian (or Vegan) Cutting meat out of your diet has a large impact on your lifestyle carbon emissions. And can lower your food bill by 20 percent to boot! The emissions and resources needed to raise animals for food are so much higher than for raising vegetables that by eating a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet you can save about one ton of carbon emissions each year compared to your carnivorous friends. Cut out eggs and cheese and save two tons per year. And by doing this you’ll also be practicing Ahimsa (non-violence), a basic tenet of Yoga…

Keep your car. What? How can keeping your car reduce carbon? Well, first try more eco-friendly modes of transport when possible, like buses, trains, a bicycle, telecommuting, or walking. But, with gas prices seemingly always on the rise, it's tempting to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle. However, if your older-model car is in good condition, you're better off keeping it in good running condition. Even hybrids create a big footprint when they're built, so consider driving that old clunker for a little while longer.

Use cold water.
 No, not in the shower... but maybe in the washer. Try using cold water to launder things that don't need to be cleaned in hot or warm water. It takes a lot of energy to heat up water -- multiply that by the number of loads, and that's a big footprint. Most major detergent makers sell detergents designed to have the same cleaning power as with regular soap. Try washing mixed loads in cold water, too.

Plant a tree in the rainforest. And finally this, from the National Recourses Defense Council. I’m inviting you to join thousands of others in planting a tree in a rainforest. It’s inexpensive ($10). It’s fast (a couple of mouse clicks). And it makes a big difference to our planet. (Each new tree can absorb up to a ton of carbon pollution in its lifetime.) 

Thanks to NRDC’s GreenGifts program, you can even plant the tree in someone’s name -- and we’ll send them an e-card letting them know about your Earth Day action. (You can write your own message on the card.) With GreenGifts, there are no more excuses for letting Earth Day pass without doing something small but important for Mother Earth. 

Plant a tree today - and breathe easier on Earth Day. NRDC - Frances Beinecke biogemsdefenders@savebiogems.org

So whatever you do know that you are doing good. Share your knowledge, your energy and your spirit to help save this beautiful earth. There has never been a more important time than the present moment.

Peace, and Happy Earth Day!!