A few ideas for celebrating Earth Day in your home and your daily life:
Walk or bike to work. Reduce your footprint on the Earth by leaving your car at home whenever possible. You benefit from the heart-healthy exercise, and the Earth benefits because, with one less car on the road, there are fewer carbon emissions.
Recycle your e-waste. More than 50 million tons of electronic waste are generated each year in the U.S. alone, and only 20 to 25 percent of the waste is responsibly recycled. As a direct consequence, large amounts of hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and cadmium leach into our air and water, contaminating our communities. Go to e-stewards.org to find a facility that will help you recycle your e-waste in a safe and responsible manner.
Reduce junk mail. One hundred million trees are cut down each year to produce junk mail, and the resulting loss of trees takes a huge toll on the Earth. Return junk mail unopened to the sender by writing “Refused. Return to sender.” Opt out of prescreened credit offers permanently or for five years online at optoutprescreen.com. Decide what other mail you do not want to receive by going to DMAchoice.org.
Donate your old clothes. Much of your old, unused clothing can be given a second life by others who purchase secondhand; regenerated into textiles for other products such as cleaning cloths; or turned into fibers for insulation. Goodwill, Value Village, and the Salvation Army all participate in “threadcycling” programs and accept clothing in any condition except wet, mildewed or contaminated with hazardous materials.
Reduce energy use at home. Use the auto-brightness feature on your TV to lower the brightness in low light (nighttime); wash clothes in cold water and spin at the highest speed (removes the most moisture, which means less time in the dryer); completely unplug gaming consoles and DVRs when you’re out of town, as these types of electronics are drawing power even when turned off. Use small kitchen appliances such as a toaster oven instead of the stove. We’ve heard for years that we should use compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. LEDs are more expensive but last longer and will save you money over their lifetime.
Help end plastics pollution. Beginning to reduce your use of plastics can be as simple as telling your restaurant server that you don’t need a straw. Other simple ways include bringing your reusable bags with you to the grocery store; while there, select products without plastic packaging. Stay hydrated with a reusable water bottle.
Find a plastics footprint calculator and more at earthday.org