Earth Day. Have you ever really thought about what it really means? If you’re like most people, you observe this day set aside for the conservation of our natural resources but you don’t really connect with it on most levels. In fact, it probably never crosses your mind at all.
Earth day is more than just conservation. It is a significant reminder of our impact on the earth. Of all the land on the earth, we have a direct impact on 83% of it. That leaves only 17% of the land unaffected and unharmed by our very existence. What’s worse is the fact that we begin to destroy the earth from the very first day we are born. Of course, in the first few years of life the choice isn’t exactly ours, but it is these early years that form the base of the justification of our treatment of the planet afterward.
Many of the items we carelessly throw away, including vacuums and other household goods, contain plastics. Plastics take a very long time to biodegrade (3-5 hundred years) because they contain crude oil-which is what gives them the waterproof property we desire. Even disposable infant diapers contain the crude oil so that our children don’t soil us. This leads to happy parents, but a huge demand on a natural resource that is commonly known for its role in the automotive industry.
Basically, Earth Day is meant for us to become aware of our footprints. It is supposed to inspire us to recycle, reuse, reduce, and be kind to the planet all year long. When you consider some of the statistics of what we use during our lifetime, it’s easy to see how we can make a difference.
Below are some ideas that we can use each and every day to preserve the resources our earth gives to us. They aren’t hard to do and only take a few minutes out of our day. But, best of all, these simple steps can make a difference in the quality of life we live and in the conservation of nature for both us and future generations.
1. Packaging is a major problem. Most packages use plastic. Purchase items with the least amount of packaging to reduce the amount of waste. (i.e. Buy socks that aren’t in a plastic package but are instead wrapped with only a small connecting tag for store display)
2. Purchase organic vegetables and produce items that are free of packaging from farmer’s markets. Not only are you saving the planet from wrapping waste, but organic foods don’t use chemical pesticides or preservatives. It’s a great way to eat healthier and to encourage more farmers to avoid the poisonous compounds that add to the pollution of our planet.
3. Recycle trash. This seems simple enough, but most of what finds its way into our dumps could be reused if it had been sorted. Paper, plastic, glass, and metal can all be remelted,molded, or reshaped into a new product that doesn’t require us to use more of our natural resources.
4. If you live two miles or closer to where you work, walk or take a bicycle. Both are excellent forms of exercise that improve your health and emissions are not secreted into the air. This reduces both health insurance and air pollution.
5. Instead of cleaners that rely heavily on chemicals, choose the ones with all natural ingredients. For example, find toilet bowl cleaners that use helpful micro-organisims to degrade waste in sewer systems. Vinegar and water are wonderful for cleaning windows. There’s even several commercial cleaners that are now environmentally safe if you prefer ready made cleaning solutions for your needs.
6. Instead of reading your newspaper on newsprint, which requires a lot of trees for production, try listening to the news on an audible recording or reading it on the Internet. Most stories in the daily news can be had this way and don’t use any trees to make. Two of the best newspapers to offer audible recordings of daily news are The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. (And, if you’re wondering why trees are so important: Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis. We breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants, such as trees, intake carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.)
7. When choosing how to diaper your baby, consider the use of cloth diapers. These are washable and reusable, made from natural fibers, and are better for your baby’s skin. By choosing a more natural method, our dumps can see a dramatic decrease in use as the average baby will need almost 3,000 diaper changes in the first two years of life. That’s a lot of waste not going into landfills.
8. Reuse plastic bottles! Instead of buying a cleaner in a plastic spray bottle every time you need a new supply of the cleaner, purchase a concentrated refill that can be mixed with water in the original bottle from the first purchase. The amount of waste is greatly reduced and the spray bottle doesn’t find its way into a landfill.
9. If you purchase milk in a plastic jug, it doesn’t have to be thrown away when the milk is gone. These make great banks for loose change and planters. I love to let the kids decorate the jugs with other items that would normally end up in the trash such as colorful wrappers from cookies and chips. They love the unique banks they make and it helps the planet. The plants serve to help clean up the air in my home and it doesn’t cost me much to reuse what I already have.
10. Clothes also litter the landfills. Consider donating the gently worn items to Good Will or another charity in your area. For those items not so gently worn, consider making them into something else. Old socks make great puppets and cleaning cloths. Old jeans work well as oil rags for working on your car or in the garage. Also, if there is a quilting guild or sewing group in your area, see if they would be interested in clothing not suitable for donation. Many times, these groups will use them as scraps and create beautiful products from what you believed worthless.
There are many other ways to help save our planet and to conserve the natural resources we’ve come to take for granted. Don’t be afraid to try them out. Not only will the amount of trash and pollution decrease, but you may find some enjoyment from creating and being inventive.
Just think what a truly wonderful world we would live in if everyone did their part to conserve the beauty all around us.