Progress has been made towards protecting our environment. According to the EPA, the aggregate emissions of six major air pollutants have dropped more than 60% since 1980. In 1972 only about 1/3 of the water in the U.S. was considered safe for swimming or fishing, now 2/3 of all water is considered safe. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent since 1980 to clean up hazardous waste sites.
There is still work to be done. In the 1970s environmental harm was easy to identify and it had bi-partisan support to address. Now, environmental issues are considered by many a partisan issue. It is difficult to identify pollutants and those doing lasting damage have a huge influence over those making the rules. So what can you do to protect the earth? Does Earth Day matter?
I would say Earth Day matters only in that it brings awareness to issues that need to be addressed. We have earth day celebrations that include discussions about climate change, alternative energy, pipelines, and energy efficiency. We hold clean-up events to pull trash out of our streams and creeks and along our roadways. So what are some ideas to celebrate Earth Day that moves beyond simply recycling?
1. Plant a tree – pick a tree and plant it. It will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cleanse pollution from the air, reduces erosion, and provides homes for animals.
2. Educate yourself on ways to reduce energy usage in your home or business.
3. Stop using disposable plastic water bottles. Think of it this way, bottled water production in the U.S. used the energy (barrels of oil) equivalent of the fuel needed to run 1.5 million cars for a year. Then 75% of those bottles get sent to a landfill instead of being recycled.
4. Shop local shops selling local products. It is good for the economy and for the environment. For every product that is created locally and sold locally, you are saving energy that would have to be invested in transportation.
5. Support businesses that are doing things to protect the environment. It is difficult to survive in business regardless of your industry. If a business is doing their part to create environmentally sensitive solutions they have taken a stand and should be supported by those with similar beliefs. Find the companies that are caring for creation and give them a high-five – virtually of course – by writing a positive review for them on a social media platform. Your endorsement does more for them than you could ever know.
6. Ride a bike or walk instead of driving to your next meeting. I love having an office downtown so I can walk to many of my meetings. Reducing the miles driven on a daily basis is certainly an easy way to care for creation.
7. Set up a compost bin. This pays dividends in reducing the amount of trash you produce each week or virtually eliminating what you send down the drain to the sewage treatment plant from the kitchen sink. It also will help you build a locally sourced food production center – a garden.
8. Set up a rainwater harvesting system.
9. Spread the good word about solar. The industry is growing quickly but there is still a lot of bad information out there about solar. Having the people who are using solar PV talk about it is a great way to get over the hump to further the alternative energy industry in our area. Tell your story – need a platform – let me know. I am glad to share your story on my blog.
10. Spread the message – share your ideas with others about the importance of caring for Creation. Taking care of our planet is fundamental for taking care of each other. If we don’t all join into the effort, it will be that much harder to make the positive changes needed for a vibrant and sustainable future.