Celebrating Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22

The founder of Earth Day, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, first proposed a national environmental teach-in day to a conservation group in Seattle in September of 1969.  Denis Hayes was the principal organizer of the first Earth Day, which took place a few months later in 1970. Over 20 million people participated that first year.

To find out how to get involved, visit: earthday.org

Here are a few ways to green it up:

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 by fewer carbon emissions from one less car on the road.

COMPOST. It’s the law in some municipalities, and just something you should do.  More than a billion pounds of food are thrown away each year.  The most efficient way you can make a difference is to compost with your waste pickup service if composting is offered in your area.

RECYCLE YOUR E-WASTE. Did you know that more than 50 million tons of electronic waste are generated each year in the U.S. alone, and only 20 to 25 percent of your 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. Switch to online payments for all of your bills and use a company such as catalogchoice.org to help you opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers and other mailings.

BUY LOCAL PRODUCE AND EAT “LOW ON THE FOOD CHAIN. Increase healthy habits and help reduce your carbon footprint by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and buying your produce locally. More information about buying locally produced food and supporting area farmers can be found in this issue’s “Eating Local” article.

DONATE YOUR OLD CLOTHES. Much of your old, unused clothing can be given a second life by others who purchase secondhand; can be regenerated into textiles for other products such as cleaning cloths; or can be turned into fibers for insulation.  Goodwill holds an annual #BreakUp4Good Earth Day event, in which they encourage everyone to “break up” with clothes they no longer wear and donate them.

REDUCE ENERGY USE AT HOME. We’ve heard for years that we should use compact fluorescent bulbs. But now experts tell us that although LEDs are more expensive, they last longer, require less energy, are dimmable, and will actually save you money vs. CF bulbs over their lifetime.

More ways to reduce energy consumption around the house: 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); and completely unplug gaming consoles and DVR players when you’re out of town, as these types of electronics are drawing power even when turned off.