Can anything good come from an oil spill? Normally not. The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, however, compelled then U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to start a movement to cause people to be more environmentally aware. On April 22, 1970, people from all races and backgrounds gathered at parks and outdoor spaces across the nation to come together to promote the need for a healthier earth. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed, and conservation continued to be emphasized. For the 20th anniversary, the group took their efforts globally. This annual event has continued to propel changes to improve the earth’s environment.
Here are several suggestions with varying levels of involvement that you can make a difference in changing your own environment.
Easy Idea: Play outside today. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, just get outside and move! By enjoying the outdoors, you are automatically using less electricity.
An idea that takes more effort: While playing outdoors, take a selfie. Yes, you read that correctly. NASA is asking everyone to go outside and take a picture, then upload it using #GlobalSelfie They plan to make a giant collage showing everyone across the globe enjoying the outdoors.
True Commitment to Make a Change: Become involved in making a difference in your own neighborhood. Contact your city and ask if any parks need to be revived. Search out community revitalization projects in your area. While this does involve a time commitment, the dividends are so worthwhile.
What you eat
Easy: Go meatless one meal a week. According to Earthday.org, the increased amount of meaty meals over the last half century is taking its toll. For instance, simply by skipping steak once a week with your family, it would be the same as not driving your car for three months.
Harder: Skip the packaging. For one meal a week when you would normally eat out or buy prepackaged foods, cook instead. Not only will this save on waste, but it could also save on your waist as well.
Hardest: Grow a garden. By producing your own food, you can avoid using pesticides. You could even take that up a notch and compost your own fertilizer. Mother Earth News has a few easy suggestions on getting started on this project. Besides tasting better, fresh food will always be healthier. Not enough space or time for gardening? Visit a local farmer’s market to purchase your produce.
Easy: Be an example. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Turn off the water when you are brushing teeth. Set the thermostat slightly higher or lower than you would prefer to save energy. Encourage your children to do the same.
Harder: Teach your children an easy poem to remind them to save the earth. Allternative Learning suggestions five simply ways to teach children to reduce their carbon footprint and helps them remember the ideas by using their fingers.
Hardest: Make Earth Day a part of family night. Check out some ideas on Pinterest!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Easy: Choose to donate or give away as much as possible rather than throwing it away. Even if your clothes are worn, many local shelters can still recycle your clothing for cash.
Harder: Decide to buy items from secondhand stores. This could even be a fun place to find items for crafts or to outfit a room in your home. Visit the library for books rather than buying your own copy. Many libraries even have movies and games to check out – much less expensive than renting.
Hardest: Recycle! This option has been perhaps one of the most emphasized parts of saving the earth, and its benefits should still be emphasized. According to the EPA, for each pound of aluminum recovered, almost 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity can be produced. This generates enough to meet the electric needs of Pittsburgh for SIX years!
Once you get started, this is really not hard at all. Sometimes making a change that is better for the environment can even benefit you financially. Many places pay for aluminum. Some recycling centers give you fun gift certificates or bonuses if you pay to participate in their recycling programs. Get your kids involved in collecting aluminum to recycle and then let the proceeds be their “pocket money.” My boys love it when we make a trip to the recycling center; the last time they left with $38 in their pocket!
What other suggestions do you have? How are you going to celebrate Earth Day this year? Whether you choose an easy or harder activity, even you can make a difference in saving our planet!