This Sunday is Earth Day, and while most of the attention in our industry is focused on how we celebrate and message the day to our customers, it’s also very worthwhile to contemplate how we spend the day personally, and what sort of activities we wish to engage in to acknowledge the day. In case you’ve been too busy to think along these lines, here are a few recommendations for how to celebrate Earth Day, keeping in mind that Earth Day is a perfect time to reflect about what you are doing to help protect the environment:
– Plant Trees: As the date also roughly coincides with U.S. Arbor Day, over time Earth Day has taken on the role of tree-planting. Planting trees helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cleans pollution, secures soil in place to prevent erosion, and provides homes for a lot of biodiversity. If planting trees seems like too much of a project, plant some flowers or shrubs, or even throw down a few seeds of grass. Everything matters.
– Learn More About the Environment: Earth Day is a good time to make a commitment to learning more about the environment and how you can help to protect it. Read up on an issue such as pollution, endangered species, water shortages, recycling, and climate change. Or, learn about a region you’ve never considered before, like the Arctic, the deserts, or the rainforests. Think about the issues that concern you the most and if you haven’t done so already, join a local group that undertakes activities to help protect the environment in your area.
– Reduce, Reuse, Recycle All Day Long: Buy as little as possible and avoid items that come in lots of packaging. Support local growers and producers of food and products. Take your drink container with you, and don’t use any disposable plates or cutlery. Recycle all the things you do use for the day or find other uses for things that you no longer use. Carry a cloth bag for carrying things in and recycle your plastic bags.
– Clean up Litter from our Roadways: Many groups use the weekend of Earth Day to clear roadways, highways and neighborhood streets of litter that has accumulated since the last clean-up day. Many companies donate gloves and bags for clean-up groups and villages organize bag pick ups. Once the group has collected the trash and placed the recycled bags along the road, get the village public works department to pick the bags up. It’s a wonderful community project.
– Ride Your Bike or Use Public Transportation: Use your bicycle or other forms of human powered transportation to commute to work , to run errands, or for play. If you don’t have a bike, at least give your automobile a rest for the day, and use some form of public transportation.
– Cook a Special Earth Day Meal: Plan a menu that uses locally produced foods, is healthy, and has minimal impact on the environment. Use as much organic food as possible.
– Set up a Compost Bin: So much stuff that we throw away can actually be composted instead of trashed, and compost is an ideal way to fertilize your outdoor space. And once you set up a composting system — basically a bin in your kitchen to put in compostable waste, and a bin in your yard where it can decay — all of that rich fertilizer is free.
– Update Your Lightbulbs: Been putting off switching your incandescent lightbulbs to energy-saving fluorescents? Well, you’re going to have to do it in the next few years, with many governments (including Britain, the United States, India and Australia) looking to phase out energy-hogging incandescent bulbs by the end of 2012. And there’s no time like Earth Day to make a change you’re going to have to make anyway.
– Pay Your Bills Online: Lots of people have started paying credit card bills and viewing statements online instead of through the mail. It’s faster than writing checks, and you don’t have to store all that paper. And if everybody in the United States started dealing with money online, it would save almost 19 millions trees every year.
– Skip a Shower or Bath: This may be a tough one for some, but if you consider all the water shortages around the world, the amount of water we use to keep ourselves squeaky clean can seem a bit shocking. A daily shower isn’t a matter of health; it’s a matter of comfort. And for the comfort of a 10-minute shower, we consume up to 50 gallons (189 liters) of water according to the EPA]. To relax in a nice bath, it takes up to 70 gallons (264 liters). A typical family in Africa gets by on a tenth of that for an entire day, including drinking water. So on Earth Day, stay a little dirty. In addition to saving up to 70 gallons of water for the people who really need it, you may even find it makes you look and feel healthier: showering every day can wash away the natural oils that our skin and hair need to glow and can deprive the immune system of the germs it needs to fully develop.
These are just a few things you can do to celebrate and embrace Earth Day, and perhaps these changes will remain as part of your daily lifestyle. There are many more that I’m sure you have thought of and I hope you embrace moving forward. One other recommendation is to watch the BBC Special on Saturday, April 21. It’s entitled “Planet Earth” and will most likely be airing on your local PBS station throughout the day. It’s a beautiful and remarkable look at our planet.
Have a wonderful Earth Day Celebration. I will leave you with the amazing wisdom of Margaret Mead, who said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.